Metablog VII: theme change experiment

No, don’t panic! It’s just a test. You may have seen how silly the threading on this site has sometimes got when discussion has been busy here. This has only really been an issue in the last two years, and it usually takes me at least that long to consider changing, well, anything really, but last November I did decide that there was one other free theme available in WordPress that supported everything I currently have loaded up in this here blog more or less where you’d expect to find it, and also had slightly better-looking threading of comments. Since then another has turned up, but the one I’d noticed does things more compactly and the new one would need more work to restore a blogroll. I quite like it, and it has a lot of scope for moving things to more convenient and intuitive locations; but, what do you think? And here I ask especially not just those who often comment but those who don’t, because lovely though the former group are they are about 1% of the blog’s audience, so some other views too might make things more representative. Basically, we can run with this, I can try the second one, we can revert to the old theme and I just disable threading, or I can wait for another plausible candidate to come up. Please, let me read your thoughts!

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32 responses to “Metablog VII: theme change experiment

  1. Looks clean and efficient!

  2. I am just posting in order to see where it ends up..

  3. Hmn… definitely better!

  4. Oh – don’t get rid of threading, whatever you end up doing. I think it adds to the ‘conversation’ you often get going on here, and I can’t imagine that having to scroll through an entire list of responses to see if anyone took up a particular point would be terribly conducive to that. In fact, in my teaching blogs over on blogger (curse them) I had to do this because of ongoing problems with students being able to log in to participate, but it definitely affected the integration of the discussion.
    On another note, I miss the green. And this page design is a little, um, clinical. But I don’t have any really substantive objection to it!

    • P.S. Only 1%, eh!? Impressive readership. :-)

      gratuitous threaded reply…

      • I made up that figure :-) The arithmetic is rather tricky, but if we say as a ballpark that the blog usually averages, say, 5 or 6 comments a day? Then, yes, 1% is of the right general proportion.

    • The lack of colour is a bit of a downside, I agree. There are colour options but they are a bit, er, total and somewhat primary. I might try one or two anyway. Not the red, though, which I had on for a few seconds and is definitely a mistake!

  5. Mitch Williamson

    You could put a subdued backgound in as for all WordPress blogs. I miss the green too.

  6. At the risk of being one of the people you don’t want to hear from, I’ll chip in anyway. I think its an improvement but its a little plain. Its a lot of white. There are tons of free templates to pick from. They just take a little time to customize. We all know you have plenty of pictures to use. ;-)

    • In fact considering all the photos you put in your posts, maybe you should try a theme that is made for photos. I would keep the background for the words fairly plain though so its easier to read. On my labtop, this theme has wide white margins.

      • At the moment, the candidates have to allow me to carry on operating without losing functionality, and this one does that where a photo theme won’t (apparently). But it’s *much* more customisable so I may move some stuff about and try new shapes at some point, whereafter that switch might make more sense. But my posts are almost always designed text-first…

  7. Agreed with the above commenters that it’s a bit plain, and since I tend to use a large window for my browser there seems to be a lot of wasted space in the margins, but since I usually read your posts on my Google Reader and only pop over to see what’s going on in the comments, I’m really not complaining.

    • Curious that you both speak of white-space; one of the things about the old theme I didn’t like was the amount of wasted space at the sides, and this one seems to be better on that score to me… It makes me wonder whether it’s a browser issue, but it seems the same to me under IE?

  8. It looks very nice on my ipad… And a white background is so much easier to read from. But i am a minimalist…

  9. We are the 99%!

    I am one of those who don’t comment because what I know about the early middle ages is pretty much what I’ve read on blogs, so I’m supremely unqualified. However, I do know a bit about site design and readability, and yes, this is much better. Thanks for making the change.

  10. I prefer a white (or almost) background for readability.

  11. Another qualification-impaired lurker here. Hello!

    The new comment layout is definitely infinitely preferable to the old. As to the background colour I think I marginally prefer the white over the present duck-egg blue, especially with the blue hyperlinks.

    Whitespace is marginally noticeable at my desktop computer’s resolution of 1680×1050 but the text seemed to fill the screen nicely on whatever crackpot, lilliputian resolution my netbook uses, so it’s probably not a real issue.

  12. My recall is clearly lacking – I don’t remember what came before! I need to get out (and over here) more.
    Comment thread was one of the reasons I moved to WordPress and I began with this theme, though it was called Cutline then.I’ve tried several and am now happy with my present one. Easy enough to change headers/backgrounds.
    This is fine.

  13. This will basically be a “ditto” to what Michelle and others have already written. This theme is a substantial improvement for comments. A touch of color would be nice, but it doesn’t need much, just enough to distinguish the sidebar from the body of the page.

  14. I LIKE white and plain! Not that the old blog was hard to read, but this one feels easier yet. Now if we could just get the people who use some sort of multi-colored image as background for text to knock that $hit off.

  15. I’ve just had it pointed out that this theme doesn’t include author’s name on the posts! So now it’s in the header, for the first time. Also, at least a splash of the old green is back…

  16. Generally better. The only substantive improvement I’d look for is to have shading behind comments to distinguish them a bit more, but threading is much better, and the whitespace is pretty similar to the old style (which might make it work better for those of your readers who have mobile devices).

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