Blogging 101, Day 5: Love Your Theme

Soooo…I’m looking at my theme and thinking, This page just doesn’t convey the point of my blog.

It’s certainly bright enough—a nice sunny yellow border.  And a lot of people like sunflowers, like the ones I have at the top of my home page.  I had taken that photo a long time ago, when I still lived in the Los Angeles area, where a bunch of in-season sunflowers were relatively inexpensive.  I love sunflowers, and so I scooped up a couple of bunches at Trader Joe’s.  The problem is, sunflowers have so little to do with learning of any kind, much less learning about writing.  Time to reassess the photo.

But there are other things wrong with my page.  First, some of the other blogs linked in the header haven’t been touched in years, especially the ones on Blogger.  The Blogger sites were used to review books written for children and young adults.  When my general ramblings turned into activities for teachers and parents, I thought I would be linking to these blogs to provide helpful ways of using books and stories in working with children with learning difficulties or behavioral issues.  Even though the blog sites were right in front of me, I kept forgetting I had them, kept forgetting to write reviews on children’s and YA books, and—because I was rather inconsistent with my blogging—forgot that those sites even existed.  In fact, I think some of the sites no longer exist.  Clearly, the “blog roll” needs to be updated and changed.

And then there are all the tags and categories added when I had no idea what I was doing, not that I’m much more aware now.  Some of the posts are ancient history.  These need to be re-categorized and archived.  Lots of work to be done there…

However, what about the basic theme?  The sidebar is so cluttered that I know I need to get rid of some of the widgets, or at least move them around.  And the widgets along the bottom…well, they need some work as well.

The real question is whether this theme—Twenty Ten—is the one I should continue to use, or whether I should choose a different theme.  The rest of the items I mentioned above are all easy enough to fix in this theme.  I can change the background color, the photo, rearrange the widgets or remove some, change the blog roll in the area just below the photo… In all, I like the simplicity of this theme. And yet…

Things I can’t do with it are change the font.  This may sound like a minor inconvenience, but to me it is a problem.  I love playing with fonts and using different ones for different purposes.  I don’t like to have one default font that is basically forced on me.  I like the ability to change the font of the title, and to change my headings and subheading the way I want.  I don’t like that I cannot change the color of the font in various places to serve as emphasis or to mark a change in the direction of the content, especially in the headings.  I like colorful delineation, and fonts that are different for the headings.  And I do not like the default (read: only) font used for the title of a piece, and I hate the font used for my blog name.

So why haven’t I changed the theme?  Well, the theme I started out with at the very beginning—or perhaps it was a former version of this theme—was great and gave me a lot more flexibility in the appearance of my site.  This theme, however, provided more flexibility in things like the number of widgets and placement of certain items.  I don’t remember exactly what caused me to change the theme, but I have used it for several years.  I am not sure when I lost the ability to choose different fonts, and suspect that that occurred during a theme “upgrade.”  Whatever the reason(s), this theme either was OK with me at the time, or I didn’t have the necessary information and skills to change to another theme.  To be honest, every time I look for another theme, I feel overwhelmed by the number of possibilities, both free and for purchase.  So I have left the theme, with its many faults, the way it was when I started.  But that is going to change as I begin experimenting with various themes over the next several weeks or months.

My wish list for a theme is

  • Clean and simple appearance
  • Room for lots of widgets
  • Availability of different fonts
  • Ability to change the color of fonts wherever I want
  • A more powerful blog name area
  • A choice of title fonts
  • Ability to easily change the site’s header photos
  • The ability to add photos in the sidebar
  • A better blog roll
  • A place to add blogs I follow that are relevant to my blog’s purpose

The list is getting longer as I type.  I hadn’t realized I wanted so many things, only a few of which are available from this theme.

Time to go “shopping” for a new theme—don’t be surprised when you return to my site sometime in the near future and everything about it has changed except the name of the blog…because I really do like “Write of Passage.”


About DrEMiller

Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT). Home: Sint Maarten. K-12 teacher for 13 years (Special Education for 10 years); Post-secondary educator since 2002; Education consulting since 1995. When teaching, held teaching certificates in K-12 special education, reading specialist; and secondary social studies. Doctorate: Educational Psychology Programmer/analyst for 10 years, including project management and training of corporate execs.
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10 Responses to Blogging 101, Day 5: Love Your Theme

  1. Patrice says:

    Love the yellow background and matching header picture. I note you do have a .com wordpress blog and should be able to go to customization section of your dashboard to change font sizes etc. I suggest learning CSS and customize it. You do have a footer widget with 4 sections. Put your Page headers in the footer so users don’t have to scroll all the up again. Position Rent Posts in the middle of side bar because recent posts automatically show at top of page. I don’t see a category list at all. Put it in the side bar and in footer. Also do not show all text to a post on blog page. Use the section break (page break) in the editor. You want to encourage readers to click and browse around in your blog. Another thing, join AdWords. Hope this helps.

    • DrEMiller says:

      Sorry it has taken me so long to read your comment. Admittedly I haven’t been on my computer much over the past several months. You gave wonderful suggestions that I will be checking into shortly. Thank you for your wonderful comments!

  2. CurvyLou says:

    You have a list that will keep you busy for a while! Hope you have fun with the rehab.I have issues with my sidebars getting too cluttered too, so every once in a while I take a good look and decide on a widget or badge to delete, or for wordings to simplify. For example, in your bottom widget area, I would suggest getting rid of the “Pages” header, as there’s only one item in the list. Good wishes on finding a new theme. I agree looking at themes can be overwhelming. I do like the sunny, cheerful yellow. (:
    Thanks again for following my blog, and hope you’re well!

    • DrEMiller says:

      Thanks for the advice! I’ll be posting the rest of the class to this site a little at a time, even though class is over and I won’t be getting feedback. I just don’t want to give up on this again. :/ Wish me luck!

      • CurvyLou says:

        I do wish you luck! Sounds like a good, motivating plan. There is so much information in those classes it’s hard to look at everything and do everything you’d like to during the course of the class. And the forums are always kind of nuts, especially the first few days.

  3. Hi Ellie! As I read your likes and dislikes about themes, I remember that in the beginning I had a theme I liked the way it looked. BUT so much about it was limited. Especially the font situation you mentioned. But, and I think it would work in most places, you can actually put in a specific color of font through HTML. Simple HTML. as simple as adding font face and font color code.

    Have you actually tried on some of the other themes? You try them on, without activating – once you activate, you have to make sure to either find the side bar widget stuff that gets knocked off your page in the change. It will give you a sense of the actual look of the theme. Then you can work to put in other things. The problem with some themes is that they won’t give you the extras without an upgrade, or you might get what you want IF you pay for one of the more advanced themes. If you need pointers in HTML, let me know.

    • DrEMiller says:

      Thanks for your advice and offer of help, Fimnora! I will be taking you up on your offer to help. I’m so far behind in the coding world that I don’t even know where to start. And I get so bogged down with similar-looking themes that I just quit looking after a while. I do try out some of the themes, but they just don’t seem to fit. I do have my wish list now, so maybe it will get a little easier! 😊

      • I made a jpg with some very basic HTML for fonts, which I can post (or even send in email, which may allow you to view it with greater ease). Let me know which you prefer.
        I tried showing someone in WP a while ago, but the code doesn’t show up. Only the result. Otherwise I’d put it here.

        The main thing is you mentioned wanting different colors. These I can give you links to. There are some easy to use sites to pick the color you want to use on a font.
        As for the font face, it may be a bit tricky, as I noticed it ignores, here in word press, the specific code for the face. But the colors work well, and there’s the bold, italic and underline in the text box you can use.

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