Blog Design / Blogging Tips / Building a Better Blog / Comments and commenting / themes / Tips Theme Choice: Twenty Eleven

1 responsinator viewBetween 2011 – 2012 I noted those visiting my blog using mobiles and tablets were on the rise. I also noted the affects the mobile explosion was having on blog design and learned either selecting a mobile friendly theme or responsive width theme was a choice I could make. That’s when I began experimenting with all of the free responsive width themes.

I have now tested all of the free responsive width themes and have used Able Adelle, Blaskan, Misty Lake SightSundance, Twenty Eleven, Twenty Twelve, Twenty Thirteen, Visual and Yoko on my blogs.

3 theme choices
Although I will continue to try new free themes as they are added to the Themes Showcase in my test blogs, I stopped searching for the perfect theme. I have made the decision to stick with the Twenty Eleven theme for the time being.

It’s an attractive responsive width theme with many useful features. Most of all I like how it displays. Click to view how one cool site displays in 9 different mobile and tablet devices. While visiting The Responinator site why not check out how your blog displays in those mobile and tablet devices too?

On Twenty Eleven your front page can be a complex page that includes both static and dynamic content. – The workings of Twenty Eleven/Duster

It was my aim to make new visitors aware of the fact that this blog has over 860 posts. I disabled infinite scroll, set up the Twenty Eleven Showcase template and added featured posts. Truth be told I didn’t like the Showcase page template lay out. After I made the change to setting a static front page by setting up the Showcase template which disabled infinite scroll I noticed my traffic stats were low. I don’t know why my blog traffic dropped or if there was a connection with the theme layout change or not.

Infinite scrolling is a new interface technique you’ll find popping up on various websites. It allows users to browse through content without clicking on pagination links. Instead, all users have to do is scroll to the bottom of the page and new content will automatically load on the current page. – Infinite Scrolling Best Practices

Reader Feedback Invited

I have now disabled the showcase template and re-enabled infinite scroll on this blog while I consider what to do next. Any feedback you would like to share on the theme change, layout, background, header and navigation will be valued.

  1. How quickly does it load for you?
  2. How is the quality of design compared to other blogs with similar content?
  3. Does the theme and layout showcase the content well?
    • Do you consider the layout to be organized and inviting?
    • Are pages being used effectively?
    • How useful is the sidebar?
  4. Is it easy to locate content that’s not on the front page?
  5. Is the color scheme eye pleasing? Does it make you feel like lingering to read or does it make you want to leave very soon?
  6. Is there anything lacking or anything that annoys you?

Please don’t hesitate to speak up and let me know what you like or dislike and what works for you as well as what doesn’t.

Related posts found in this blog:
Twelve Step Blog Evaluation
How to select a theme Part 1
Select a theme Part 2 
Select a WordPress theme Part 3

76 thoughts on “ Theme Choice: Twenty Eleven

  1. Hi there! I have a Fashion Blog in Pilcrow wordpress but I would like to make my potos a bit wider. I have been doing some research and it looks like Twenty Twelve is the winner! Whats the difference with Twenty Eleven? Although any tips on other themes would be much appreciated. Tks!

  2. Thank you for the Responsinator link – what fun, and how helpful!

    I think your site looks clean, crisp, and very easy to navigate, and I can’t wait to see how the background and menu images change, presuming you will keep that going!

    One change I would make is to delete the “Recent Posts” widget, it is redundant since they are all on your page, and with infinite scroll enabled, all posts are by default. I find the tag cloud widget distracting and the ballooned words always look unprofessional to me – I’d rather see a drop down menu.

    I’m a fan of Twenty Eleven, it is what I have used since the beginning. I tested all of the free themes and test all of the new free ones, but nothing gives me all that Twenty Eleven does. I know at some point this was the most popular theme (likely because it was the default!) and used to be “Duster”. Timethief, in your experience do we have to worry about WP deleting this theme any time soon, and if so, do they give warning?

    I’m curious why you chose to keep infinite scroll enabled after you disabled the Showcase? I know WP loves infinite scroll, but I’m not a fan.

    Thank you for this great post, and your thinking behind the theme choice!

    • Oh my! I must have thought I was in my test blog and set up the Recent Posts widget here in error. I did not intend that. Off to nuke it as it’s redundant! I’ll be back to respond to the rest when the phone at work stops ringing.

      Gosh it’s bedtime and I’m frapped.

      I find the tag cloud widget distracting and the ballooned words always look unprofessional to me – I’d rather see a drop down menu.

      It’s a category cloud widget and I’m using it because the category widget drop-down setting makes the widget too wide for the sidebar in this theme so I had to compromise.

      Timethief, in your experience do we have to worry about WP deleting this theme any time soon, and if so, do they give warning?

      There is no warning when themes are retired but themes aren’t retired until when they no longer support features and I don’t think Twenty Eleven is in any danger of becoming retired any time soon. :)

      I wasn’t a fan of infinite scroll until I observed others viewing blogs on tablets and mobiles. That opened an whole new way of thinking for me as I’m a desktop blogger.

      It was great to hear from you. Thanks for commenting.

      P.S. Re: header and background changes are inevitable on my blogs. I bore easily. I take no sense of comfort from seeing the same images frozen in time on any blog. To me the same old same old implies being stuck in a rut. What blows my mind is how many bloggers never change theirs and tend to have text widgets containing junk like awards and mile long blogrolls in their sidebars that they never chnage. If it doesn’t serve a useful purpose for visitors re: locating content or related resources then I say: “Put it on a page or give it the deep six.”

  3. I like it – clean, clear and easy to read.

    I have a personal preference (which is probably odd and not shared by many…or any!) for seeing lots of archive post titles in blogs – I find titles catch my eye and lead me into interesting reading I’d otherwise miss. I don’t want to just see ‘most popular’ posts as many blogs display.
    And I find some colour combinations almost impossible to read, which puts me off even if the content is attractive.

    • Every archived post title on the front page of a blog is a link and there comes a point when they are excessive. As this blog has a Sitemap which is an index to every post published on the blog and as the blog is set to infinite scrolling I don’t post use a Recent Posts widget.

      I’m sad to read you don’t use my Popular Posts page. I don’t use the widget because the Top posts and Pages in this blog are not the best posts – period. They are not useful to those who are either just starting to blog or those seeking to improve their blogging skills. I select each and every post I place on the Popular Posts and Basic Blogging pages.

      I wince at some of the color combinations I see on blogs. As an artist I’m extremely color critical and hyper-sensitive. I’m likewise put off by any adult blogger who feels the need to have a rainbow cascade of colored fonts in their posts. It only takes a single click to leave and I don’t hesitate to click. :)

      • Thanks, I’ve learned several important things – up till now I assumed popular posts (on any blog) was ‘most read’ posts – which are by no means always those most worth reading, or I know that’s certainly true of mine! – but it sounds like the widget *is* that but your pages aren’t. I will explore and also look into your advice re sitemap and font page links!

  4. Looks good! Personally I’m not a fan of infinite scroll, but I don’t know exactly why. Maybe just habit — I like and expect pages to have endings.

    Your post reminded me I hadn’t checked my blog’s loading time in quite a while. Imagine my distress when I went to Pingdom and discovered it’s no longer free. I’m upset. I loved Pingdom.

    • You don’t need an account to use pingdom tools. They are free. I use the Pingdom Website Speed Test almost every day when answering forum questions and I frequently use it multiple times daily. I also use Test network connectivity to a server (Enter a host name or IP address to perform a Ping or a Traceroute) and sometimes I use Test DNS servers and settings for a domain name (Enter a domain name to check if its DNS servers are configured correctly) when I’m answering support forum questions.

  5. Pingback: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes! | I Want Ice Water!

  6. The Responsinator is very useful. Thanks very much for sharing.

    Q. How quickly does the site load?
    A. No problems

    Q. How is the quality of design compared to other blogs with similar content?
    A. I have always liked the cosmological tree growing on a rock floating in the void.

    Q. Does the theme and layout showcase the content well?
    A. Yes, the concentration is on the content and it’s very readable.

    Q.Do you consider the layout to be organized and inviting?
    A. Yes

    Q.Are pages being used effectively?
    A. Yes.

    Q.How useful is the sidebar?
    A. The sidebar doesn’t appear when viewing individual posts. As far as the homepage of the site is concerned, I hardly see the sidebar and I think that is because I am focussed on the text.

    Q. Is it easy to locate content that’s not on the front page?
    A. I use the search box if I am looking for something.

    Q. Is the color scheme eye pleasing? Does it make you feel like lingering to read or does it make you want to leave very soon?
    A. It’s pleasing and I enjoy the content.

    Q. Is there anything lacking or anything that annoys you?
    A. No, it looks good.

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for answering my questions. I do appreciate it. I was surprised to see you changed your theme from Twenty Thirteen to Twenty Eleven. Was there a specific reason for that?

      • Yes there was :-)

        Thinking about your questions caused me to look at my site, and I thought that Twenty Eleven has more focus.

        If it was possible to change the colour scheme on Twenty Thirteen without having to pay for the custom upgrade, I think I would do that.

        • What I didn’t like about Twenty Thirteen was what you point to. I’m also not keen on the large fonts sizes. So I know where you are coming from re: inability to chnage a colour scheme without paying $30. per year to do it.

          By way of contrast the colour of the header and tagline text and the color of links can all be changed on Twenty Eleven. The custom header and custom background features also go a long way to creating and/or changing colour schemes. That flexibility is among the reasons I like both Twenty Eleven and Yoko.

  7. After testing/previewing recent new themes, I’ve kept with Twenty Eleven. Part of it, is lack of motivation and time to try a new theme and do clean-up to make the change look decent for my blog.

    So you activated infinite scrolling? I decided not to. Alot of people still have older browsers.

    • IE browsers are the most problematic. I read what you said and I’m on windows xp with IE8 to check this out right now. I had no issues loading the blog.

  8. An unrelated questions: I like how you use the Read More thing. Have you done a post on it before? I would like to use it on my blog but am utterly unsure where to put the Read More link. Thanks.

  9. TT, your site loads fine for me. I tend to visit from my iPad and I’ve never had any problems. Of course, I will patiently wait for your content so I may not be the best judge!

    I decided to use a responsive theme on my blog because I live in Ghana, West Africa and right now, more Africans access the web from mobile devices than from desktops. I also need to look at load times.

    Thanks as always. You educate us even when you seek feedback.

  10. This posting looks great on both the iPhone 5 and the iPad 3 (retina). It loaded quickly as well. The pics could have been of a higher quality which really stands out on a dense-pixel display.

    One comment on having a lot of links embedded in the body of the text with touch screens: it can be too easy to accidentally tap a link while scrolling or just reading along with your finger as some people do. I did not experience this with your post, but I had already read it and was more comparing the look as compared to my large screen desktop. Some articles I read have many embedded links and I am repeatedly accidentally touching links and it can be very annoying being ripped away from what I’m reading when that was not my intent.

    And thanks for indenting some paragraphs while you were playing with formatting, that caused me to discover how to do that. I’ve been needing it and didn’t notice that I could do it without making a bulleted or numbered list!

    • Thanks for your feedback on the blog’s appearance on both the iPhone 5 and the iPad 3 (retina). I really appreciate it as I don’t own either one to with check myself.

      Properly formed links are embedded in text and including links to sources and resources comes with the territory for bloggers. That isn’t going to change so that means those using touch screen devices will have to learn new habits when reading posts to avoid the issue you describe.

      I always make an effort to use formatting in a way that improves reality and it’s so good to hear your positive feedback on it. Thank you.

  11. Your blog has always worked well for me. But I hadn’t thought to check out how my theme works on various devices. Thanks for that advice. Happy Canada Day to you–do I have the name right?
    Hugs from Ecuador,

  12. This theme is a good choice – clean not cluttered and fussy so you can read without distractions. The blue is calm/easy on the eyes and sets off the white without fighting for attention. The scrolling works best.
    I think many bloggers will start considering how blogs look/function on mobile devices.

  13. Oh dear. I’ve been thinking about changing my theme for some time TT, but now that I’ve seen how terrible my blog looks on The Responinator, a desire based on simple esthetics now seems like more of an urgent need. The thing is that switching themes has always been a bit of a nightmare for me, and that’s only gotten worse as the new themes became more complex!

    I’m gonna try to switch over to Twenty Eleven ASAP. I like the way it looks and how it responds here. The difference in Responinator loading speeds between our two blogs is just staggering!

    Thanks for including the help links that I’m sure I’ll be needing. I’ll try to do a better job with your questions as I return again and again! :D

    • Hi there,
      We want to aim for less than 3 – 5 seconds to fully load our blogs as people begin clicking out at 4 – 5 seconds rather than waiting. It’s estimated that if a page has not loaded with within 3- 5 seconds we can stand to lose one third of our visitors. Moreover, page loading time has been a page ranking factor since 2009.

      Here’s your page loading time report via pingdom tools: “Your website is slower than 86% of all tested websites”!/nZJVE/ To reduce page loading time see 1. and 3. in this post Note that if you reduce page loading time then switching themes may not be required but you may want to try Yoko on your blog and set it to infinite scroll.

      My personal blog is wearing Yoko and has no issues with page loading time as I do everything I can to reduce it on both blogs. Yoko – “Your website loads 84% faster than most other sites do.” It loads even faster than this blog does. Twenty Eleven – “Your blog loads 60% faster than most websites do”.

      Yoko is a responsive width theme and displays very well in responsinator. I just tried switching my personal blog to Twenty Ten and the page loading time was very close as I expected it would be. However, when I viewed the blog in the responsinator I saw a big difference and I quickly switched back.

      • Sorry TT, I wrote my 2nd comment before seeing your response to the 1st. But I’m hoping the front page excerpts will help speed up the loading time…

        • I think my responses may have overlapped your comments. Yes inserting “the more tag” into each post means only excerpts display on the front page. That will help reduce page loading time. You have a sidebar appearing on every page in the blog but that can be changed. You don’t need to have it appear on static pages. Instead you can select the one column no sidebar template in your Page attributes module. De-cluttering your sidebar will reduce page loading time too. Your visitors do not need and will not be using most of what’s in the sidebar.

    • Okay TT, feeling a little stupid here. Question 1: One of the things I was hoping to get with a theme change is a home page with excerpts instead of full posts. I’m playing around with Twenty Eleven on my test blog but I can’t figure out how to get the home page to display the way yours does. Is there a setting somewhere for that? I’d really hate having to resort to the read-more tag!

          • @ IzaakMak
            I think that re-thinking the whole thing is a very good plan. Once you hash everything out in your head and act to make the changes that reduce page loading time you can reassess. Then you may want to change themes or not. Yoko, Able, Blaskan, etc. may be better choices for you but don’t overlook Visual. Granted it’s a dark theme but it’s so beautifully designed under the hood. There are very were very few markup errors ie. only 12 Errors, 7 warning(s) when I tried it.
            All my best to you always.

  14. That was fascinating. I love my theme, but I’ve had it for a while and it doesn’t always display well. I hadn’t even considered the problem of loading my site on other platforms (which I should). Traffic has been way down so maybe this is why–my readers don’t like the presentation on their mobile devices.

    I’m on it!

    • Hi Jacqui,
      The page loading time on your blog needs to be reduced and don’t get confused because it isn’t about your theme. It’s primarily about the amount of un-required stuff you have in your sidebar. Ocean Mist is a very popular older theme that displays a sidebar on every page in the blog. That means all that stuff you have in your sidebar has to load before visitors can read your content. I would eliminate almost all of it. If it’s important for visitor’s to use to locate content deeper than the front page then put it on a page.

      This is how your site displays in responsinator

      Now let’s get back to the real issue ie. very slow page loading time.
      “Your website is slower than 73% of all tested websites.”!/bdcfu1/ See 1. and 3. in the same post I directed IzaakMak to

      If you are into accepting advice please consider that your About Me page already has all of the stuff found in the sidebar under your Gravatar and all of the stuff in the block of text at the end of your Book Reviews posts. The award badges and other badges in your can be put on a static page. removing them will give the blog a professional appearance. Your sitemap page is unnecessary and I would remove it as the All Posts page is sufficient. Your “Read my columns” in the sidebar could also be placed on a static page. Bottom line: I recommend taking a close look at the contents of your sidebar with the aim of eliminating most of it.

        • Hi again Jacqui,
          I don’t purport to be an expert of any kind and I always feel uncomfortable about giving any feedback on other bloggers blogs. In fact I stopped doing it except for paying clients a couple of years ago. If the page loading time hadn’t been as slow as it is I wouldn’t have said anything. I’m so glad you accepted what I said as being worthy of your consideration. Best wishes with your blog.

          P.S. Please feel free to provide feedback on my blog too.

      • Jacqui,
        I like the theme change to Sight very much. What a difference it makes. Your website is faster than 48% of all tested websites now. Good going!

  15. I found two other problems, About, Copyright, does not seem to be working, there’s no redirection to the copyright page, or if there is its very slow. Also, when I press Home, Sitelink, I’m sometimes getting the Links page instead. On my iPad, the Sitelink menu item covers the Links one when it opens, so it may be getting confused. Hope this makes sense.

    • Hi Mike,
      Thanks so much for your feedback. It’s appreciated. Those issues are not evidenced on 3 different PCs running three different browsers. That make’s me wonder if they aren’t iPad related. When my hubby is home I’ll use his iPad and see if I experience the same thing you have reported.

  16. I can’t understand why when I select Home from the menu I then have to select Sitemap. Wouldn’t it have been easier for your readers to direct them straight to the Sitemap page directly.

    Colours I like, easy on the eye, font as well. I’m using an iPad and everything looks in place, response is fast as well…

    • Hello Mike,
      I tried stacking Sitemap under Home as a sub-pages so there would be fewer page tabs in the top line. However, I agree with you. It didn’t work well so I changed it. Thanks for prompting me to re-examine that.

  17. OH dear – when I used The Responinator my site looks like a dog’s breakfast! I had no idea :( Just when I had a layout I liked it’s back to the drawing board. Thank goodness for your post!

    I find your layout very pleasing – it loads well, but I can’t see the sidebar you mentioned.

  18. I`m am not blogging long enough to have any useful knowledge about what themes work well and associated difficulties/advantages to each.
    But I will tell you what works for me on your blog.

    In the short time I`ve been following your blog, I know I will always read something useful to me.
    For example the Responsinator link on this post is one cool website and I hadn`t heard of it before.

    Your blog loads just fine for me on laptop and on phone (I have both open now).
    I like the way you format your posts. Nice layout with bullet points etc.
    The writing flows well and is error free.
    Providing links to older posts at the end of this one, is a nifty idea.
    Love your pic-it`s very distinctive.
    I might steal your popular posts page idea-though not, of course, your popular posts.

    In short, it`s the input you have personally made on this blog that makes it appealing to me.

    I can`t see a sidebar though, not on my laptop, or phone.

    • Hi there,
      Thanks so much for taking this on. The fact that you are new to blogging may be an advantage because many bloggers who discover my blog are new to blogging. That’s why I think your feedback is just as valuable as that of a long time blogger.

      Thanks so much for the kind words about my content. My heart soared when I read that you always read something useful here.

      I’m sensitive to readability issue as I’m visually challenged. I do try format all my posts with readability in mind so it’s good to hear you think I’m succeeding. My content is not always error free. Sadly, I find and edit errors after publication. No matter how hard I try to produce and error free post from the get go and no matter how many tools I use I do find things that require correction.

      Please do create your own Popular Posts page. It’s easy to do and my stats indicate mine is popular.

      • Sorry, thought I`d replied to your very generous comment-must not have posted for some reason.

        Thank you for your Popular Posts tip! I really appreciate that as it is indeed very easy to do and it bothers me that some of my posts get buried. Hopefully, this will find and resurrect the better stuff.

        Have been reading Michael Hyatt`s “Platform” in recent days. It has tons of blogging tips and is worth at least a browse, as is his website

        I believe though that some actual writing tips can lead to clinical, sterile posts.

        Anyway, I`ll watch you with interest. You`re doin` good!

  19. It all appears to work well. I’m currently using Able which I’m pretty happy with. What is interesting on a mobile device is that the widgets appear at the bottom instead of the right-hand margin where it is on my desktop. So when I instruct the viewer to listen to my latest song down along the right-hand column that must be rather confusing when being viewed on a smartphone where that content is at the bottom. It’s always something!

    • You are describing exactly how responsive width themes are designed to display. Responsive width means the layout adapts depending on the size of the device being used to view your site. When responsive width themes are viewed on mobiles sidebars appear below the posts in order to provide as much space as possible for reading.

      Go here > Appearance > Mobile and disable the mobile theme.

      • Sorry to butt in, but won’t disabling the mobile theme wipe out the benefits gained by using a responsive theme in the first place?

        • No not at all. In fact it can queer the layout. It’s a one or the other choice ie. when you have a fully responsive theme, the mobile theme isn’t necessary so Staff recommend disabling it via Appearance -> Mobile in your blog’s Dashboard.

    • I’m feeling good about what you have said about how I communicate. As an introvert I don’t tend to speak up unless I do think I have something of value to share. As a strong minded person who is very opinionated I try not to be preachy in tone but I sometimes miss the mark.

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