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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Blogging 101 – Try a new Theme. Don’t Judge a Book By its Cover

Working with WordPress Themes to give your Blog a professional look

I plead to you, Don’t judge a book, or in our case a Blog by its cover!  Admit it, themes, themes, themes, this feels like the first day at High School, where how you look, dress, act, will brand you for the next four years.  As terrible as it may be, a theme could very much be the same.  As adults, we know better to judge a book by its cover, or the author by the Theme, but how quickly do we bounce from a site, it the content is chaotic? Today’s Blogging 101 lesson is about themes. Try out at least three other themes, even if you are happy with yours. You never know what you will find.

Going back even five years ago, having your own website was a simply a bit of a technical chore if you go back even further, website communities such as Geocities attempted to provide a website to everyone, however, the world of  HTML, CSS, Coding, and, ugg, design, always kept the www at arms length.  Thank you to the world of CMS (Content Management Systems) and the birth of platforms such as WordPress – and with them, dedicated people that are much more artistically, and creatively inclined than myself (the technical piece has always been easy), to create thousands of brilliant Theme designs that I can simply plop onto of my WordPress site and change our Theme  — INSTANT MAKEOVER!

The latest Blogging 101: Zero to Hero assignment:

Love your Theme:  try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with yours. Try one you’re drawn to, and one you’d never use.

So what is your Theme Personality?

Search, install, activate — and wow — you have a new Theme Personality.  Configure a few widgets and you have a shiny new blog as a home to your thousands of hours of words, stories and confessions.  Do you like a clean simple approach such as those offered by Twenty Ten to Twenty Fourteen (currently installed on my Blog), Chalkboard, a fun play on our life in school, or a “premium theme” such as those provided by companies such as “StudioPress“.   Before our fist Blogging 10 class, much like Back to School shopping, I raced around to give my Blog some new life.  I was looking for a theme that matched the following:

  • Clean, simple, and organized
  • Provided multiple areas to list posts by category
  • As responsive on a web browser as it was on a mobile phone
  • Flexible to allow me to personalize it as I wanted

So that folks was my Theme Personality, and the hunt was on!

What themes do I have installed?

A picture is always worth a few thousand words so here is a screen capture of my Theme directory……

The Power of Widgets and WordPress Plugins

A great theme is perfect – but what about our personality?  After all — two people can always go to the store and buy the same Shirt, Tie, Dress, Shoes — that is our theme — off the rack, coolness!  Now how do we add a bit of ourselves?  As I noted above, my Theme Personality needed to have a few places to talk to the world.  How to celebrate my moments that I put my “geek” on, how to celebrate, rant, complain about my “Crohn’s and Diabetes”, what posts to highlight my passion for photography (or how to highlight), and then there is “everything else”.  How can I ensure there isn’t any duplication in posts, and still capture everything possible?

I am not going to jump too deep into the Widgets and the power of Plugins today (after all, that may be another assignment), but what I am going to say, is that Widgets and the plugins we have installed are powerful, widgets are great, widgets and what we populate in them, make our blog come alive, help organize the chaotic world of our thoughts and ideas into an experience we enjoy opening to the world.

So what are your thoughts about my website ….

Our theme is a balance between our own taste and desires and helping navigate the universe of visitors to our site around.  Where can I improve my site, what did you like, what would you want to borrow?

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Mark Hanlon


Mark is an avid photographer, Starbucks addict, motivated cyclist, struggling runner, and rocking single parent living outside of Toronto, Ontario. Living with two chronic ilnesses, Crohn’s Disease and Diabetes, life for this Transportation Planner and Registered Professional Planner (RPP) can be an interesting mix.