WordPress.com Themes

Last week, WordPress.com theme wrangler Lance asked on the forums: If you could change one thing about your theme, what would it be? I was the second person to reply.

I didn’t hold my breath waiting for my request to be implemented, since Simpla is not among the newest or the most popular themes available at WordPress.com. But, if you look at a single post on this blog, you’ll see links to the next and previous posts. In other words, my request was implemented within days. I’m impressed, even factoring in the fact that next/previous links aren’t complex things, and that some believe that they should be part of the post layout of every theme.

I’m hoping that the Theme Team will write a summary of Project One Thing. In fact, I’ll head over to their recent post at the WP.com blog to suggest it.

Typekit Made Simpla

The previous episode of Typekit Tales focused on the hero’s struggles with Typekit at WordPress.com, and involved his getting help. Help did arrive, followed by some thoughts about easing the struggle.

This post is intended to ease the struggle for those who follow the hero along the Simpla path: in other words, for bloggers who use the Simpla theme, especially at WordPress.com. In order to apply change the fonts you use, here is how to refer to some of the parts of your blog.

  • Everything*: body
  • Blog title: #header h1
  • Blog tagline: #header p
  • Post title: .entrytitle h2
  • Title of sidebar sections, including widgets: #sidebar h2

* Note that everything means everything not overruled by more specific CSS selectors.

I used Anisette STD Petite for everything, then Intruder Alert for the headings. As before, I chose those particular typefaces because they are distinctive rather than because I think that they improve the blog. So they will survive at this blog only in the illustrative image.

The post title should probably read Typekit for the Simpla Theme, but I couldn’t resist the one you see above.

WordPress Themes, Mobile and Otherwise

The theme of a WordPress blog is like its skin, its graphical interface… So the theme is part of the blog’s identity.

Should that identity be preserved across platforms, even when some of the platforms are mobile? A recent post suggests that it typically isn’t. WordPress.com’s mobile default is a mobile theme, rather than a mobile version of the blog’s “main” theme.

For self-hosted WordPress, there are several plugins available. The most popular seem based on the rule: if mobile platform, then mobile theme.

There are some aspects of theme design that don’t translate well to mobile. For example, the theme for this blog shows a lot of white space. That doesn’t work on mobile, when there isn’t much space to spare.

On the other hand, colors do work on mobile. The WordPress.com CSS upgrade doesn’t let me tweak the color scheme of the mobile themes. I wish it did.

For self-hosted blogs, it might be good practice to have a little CSS file that specifies colors, and other aspects of themes that carry over well to mobile, and invoke that file from every theme the blog uses.

I’m sure someone has written a good, thoughtful account of aspects of theme design, and the extent to which each aspect should be similar or different between mobile and other themes. If you know of it, please leave a link in the comments.

Autumn Blog Cleaning

It’s autumn: my calendar tells me that the equinox fell on September 22. That’s as good a reason as any to do the blog cleaning I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while.

The screen capture shows the blog as it was before the autumn cleaning. The sidebar is now a lot shorter. Search is now at the top: I used to offer a Google custom search that searched not only this blog, but also some of my older and other blogs, but this has been my main blog for long enough that the simple blog search box will suffice. The tag cloud has gone. And so on.

There are a couple of things I wish I could have changed. There’s that annoying gap at the top right: I’d like to shuffle the sidebar up into it, and perhaps I could if I was willing to wrestle with CSS a little. And, for some reason, WordPress.com has changed the Simpla theme under me and given the post footer more space: I don’t think I could CSS my way out of that one.

This is the latest episode of Simpla Way, as I call my version of the Simpla theme. I considered switching to a different theme, but I’ll stick with Simpla, at least until it’s time to give this blog a spring 2009 clean.

Tag Cloud Widget at WordPress.com

The previous post was about the implementation of tags in WordPress.com. The bad news was in the last paragraph of the post. I still think it’s bad news.

However, there is a way in which WordPress.com will give you links to your tag pages. It’s the Tag Cloud widget, which I’ve just put on the sidebar of this blog. I think that it works in much the same way as does the Category Cloud widget (which I’ve never used). I’m not sure that I’ll keep the cloud widget, since I like my sidebars sparse these days.

I’m using the Simpla theme for this blog. The version of it at WordPress.com is tag-aware, in that it displays tags for posts that have them, and it includes Tag Cloud among the sidebar widgets available. I’m haven’t checked out any other themes for tag-awareness.

Update: the tag cloud has not updated since I published this post. That’s strange since the post does have tags, some of which are new to the blog.

Up-update: the tag cloud did update, although it took (more than 10) hours to do so.