My friends and loyal readers will notice that I’ve changed my blog site’s look. Originally I was using the Wuhan Theme that served me well for some time. It was the first theme I selected after I switched to WordPress. It was a simple, yet robust, 2-column theme, with a great look and feel. I learned quite a bit from modifying this theme, dealing with CSS, browser compatibilities, typography, and manipulating graphics with Photoshop. I invested quite a bit of hours modifying and making it work the way I wanted. So when it is time to change the theme, it saddens me to leave this theme behind. But, like Chris Pearson said, “And then I got over it.”
Indeed, now in 2008, in conjunction with my 2nd year blogging anniversary, I’m glad to have selected yet another simple and robust 2-column theme. It is called Cutline from Chris Pearson. Just as the previous theme, I went through the PHP and CSS codes, modify them to fit my needs. It isn’t a major brain surgery, just a bunch of cosmetic changes. Chris already has a very good template to start with, so it makes it easier to do my changes. I spent most of my time on the layout of the header and sidebar. I decided not to use WordPress’ dynamic widget feature because I needed more control over the sidebar presentation.
The selection also wasn’t easy. I went through dozens of free WP 2.3 themes out there. I narrowed them down through my specific requirements: readability, clean looks, and full-featured. Here are the list of runner-ups:
I was very very close to use this theme. It has everything I need, the simple look and awesome readability. But my only stumbling block was figuring out Chris’ custom.css modifications. I’m not a CSS geek. I couldn’t spend too much time trying to figure out how to make it work for me. However, when I saw Cutline and discovered how easy it was to modify it, I went with it. Maybe I’ll give Copyblogger another chance next year, if Chris doesn’t come up with another killer template.
- Orange Web 2.0
This one has a great look to it and it’s widget ready. I started modifying the graphics and CSS, trying to change the look of my logo and text to have a golden look to it. But, I had a tough time blending in the same color into the header background. I tried using transparent GIF but there was jagginess. I ended up doing a lot of graphics work on this one. Maybe I’m just too pixel perfect, so it discouraged me from using this theme.
This theme was good enough to make me consider using a 3-column template (which is not my preference). With this, I was planning to use WP’s dynamic widgets on most of the sidebars, and use one of the columns for my own code modification. In the end when I previewed it, I just observed 3-column is too cluttered for me. I think 3-column themes are more suitable for sites that run advertisements. I don’t run ads.
- Very Plain Txt
This one has got to be the most simple look of them all. With all of the frustrations during the theme selection process, I seriously considered going to the deep end (or was it shallow end?) with this one. After a day of rest, I previewed my content with this, and it didn’t seem right. I felt like I didn’t try hard enough, so I walked away from this one.
- Widejournal 1.0
I really like the typography and layout on this one. It’s a simple approach with the features that I wanted. It’s also one of those 3-column themes that is widget ready. I would seriously consider using this if the preview didn’t break on IE7 browsers. I’m not sure if Hans fixed this yet. I’m not even sure if he’s still supporting it. Anyway, I had to move on previewing other themes.
Honorable mention goes to Almost Spring theme. It’s a very simple, yet colorful, 2-column theme that is perfect for those who like it simple. Heck, even Matt Cutts’ blog (the famed Google SEO guru) uses this theme. But, just like others that I previewed, I had to abandon it because the features were not there to begin with. I suppose this theme is a good starting template for those who want to build their own features. I needed something with enough features in it that I could get off the ground quickly. This theme just doesn’t have it.
There you go. As always, your comments are welcomed and appreciated!