Theme Change Trials and Tribulations

I changed my blog theme. And then I changed my blog theme again. I think I’m finally “OK” with the results. Have I learned anything as a result? Maybe. But I must admit, I felt fairly ridiculous by the end of this whole process. At least, I hope it’s the end. For a long time. Here’s the story:

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First, a defensive apology: In the old days of my former life, in advertising, I learned that ONLY BRAND MANAGERS care about the box. [It’s important to try to read “ONLY BRAND MANAGERS” with the appropriate note of “we work for the agency” disdain in your mind. Also, my sincere apologies to any actual brand managers reading this.] Our vast wisdom ran like this: It doesn’t matter if you just spent $2mm to redesign your box. The consumer does not care about the box. That means the advertising should not spend too much precious time talking about the box.

[If the new packaging actually provides a consumer benefit, that’s a different story. Every rule has its exceptions. Rarely, however, does the packaging provide a consumer benefit. Talking about the box normally amounts to self-absorbed narcissism. Again, actual brand managers, please see my apology, above.]

In blogging, the theme is, basically, “the box.” I’m writing about it. So now I have to admit that I must be something like a brand manager, after all. [Self-absorbed. Narcissistic. The shame. And … doing it anyway.]

Second, it may be important to know – if you hadn’t guessed this already – that I am not the kind of person who likes to rearrange the furniture in the living room. Ever.

Thus, it will not surprise you to learn that the last time I changed my blog theme, it was only because I got a bunch of scary Google search console errors because the then-theme was mobile-ly unresponsive. My first instinct was to think about disconnecting from Google search console. But I wasn’t sure I could figure out how to do that, because it had been hard enough to connect to it in the first place. So instead, I looked around for a theme that was “responsive,” and found one that was as much like the old one as I could find, and switched to it, and carried on.

But from time to time I would run across someone’s actual blog (as opposed to someone’s posts in the WordPress reader), that had lovely large pictures splashed across the top of the home page, and I would think “oh, that’s so nice …” Other People’s Blogs were pretty. I wished my blog was pretty.

So, after a few years of this, I began to think maybe I would look into changing the theme again.

Then, after many more months of thinking that and then quickly thinking “I don’t have time to get into this …,” I had a few weeks in a row with nothing more urgent to do than a lot of filing and cleaning the office. So I began looking for themes that had lovely large pictures splashed across the top of the home page.

After eliminating almost all of those, for one reason or another, the one that was left still had some issues. In particular, with some feature that now I don’t even remember what it was. The main point being that, when I contacted tech support, the nice young [I assume] person on the other end of the chat box said “well, that’s kind of an older theme, so …”

In other words, “of course it WOULD have those kinds of issues.” Because of being older. Like the theme you’re thinking about switching from. Which is … even older.

Now I began thinking that not only did I need to find a theme with lovely large pictures, but it needed to be a newer one. Which was responsive.

Because I reasoned this way: a newer one will last me longer.

Because, I reasoned, a newer one will not have needed retro-fitting to work with the new editor. It will already have been designed with the new editor in mind. By the time they change the editor again, which they surely will, I might have retired from blogging. I might never need to change this theme again. Victory will be mine!!

So I began looking for a newer theme that met all the criteria. And after eliminating almost all of those, for one reason or another, I began trying to set up the one that was left, “in private,” before transferring it over to my “real” blog. Because, as mentioned earlier, I am cautious and risk-averse like that. And then, once I thought I had solved all the problems, mainly, or devised work-arounds for whatever was not entirely congenial to me, more or less … and after some hemming and hawing and stress and putting it off … I pressed the button and changed the theme.

Then, I immediately proceeded to experience increasingly intense buyer remorse. This was not techically “buyer” remorse, because it was a free theme. More like “decision” remorse.

Those lovely large pictures took a long time to load. Especially as “covers” in the “cover template.” So mostly the homepage just looked like it had a giant fog-gray header, for whole long SECONDS. Then I began to feel the new image-to-text ratio made the whole thing feel … less … [Trigger warning: I’m about to sound insufferable. Doing it anyway] intellectual. [Now please excuse me while I stifle the other part of myself, who’s laughing hysterically and saying “like the old one looked ‘intellectual!’”] Then I kept not liking the “archive pages” and kept thinking of new ways to hide them and make them inaccessible and make other pages that would do almost the same thing only not “that way.” And then there was the endless fussing with the excerpts. The old theme didn’t even have excerpts. I don’t think.

All of this, mind you, was taking place in the background of a blog no one actually reads. Seriously. In internet numbers, no one. [Except You, clearly. Every rule has its exceptions. You’re a member of an elite squad. Which I value, immensely, let me tell you.]

This meant that, on top of everything else, my obsession-to-importance ratio had gotten even more out of whack than usual.

By now, I also had some real work to do. I couldn’t spend any more hours staring at blog stuff on the internet, because I needed to spend hours staring at work stuff on the internet. I just had to put up with the itchy, ill-fitting, uncomfortable sweater of the new theme until I had the uncommitted time to figure out what to do about it.

During this period, I consoled myself with the thought that, in internet numbers, no one even reads this blog. [See above. I am, truly, glad You are an exception.] I read it, though. This was not a happy time.

Once the most recent dust cleared, I decided there was nothing for it but to change themes again. I think I have finally managed to replicate some of the desirable features of the old old theme, without most of the undesirable features of the new old one. The new new one doesn’t have all the loading problems, and still manages to have ridiculously immense pictures at the top of all the pages. This, I think I’ve finally realized, is kind of passé now. The current trend seems to be to have immense pastel blank spaces, along with some kind of giant font. In another decade or so, that will probably start to appeal to me, too.

I still keep tripping over little things I want to tidy up. But the new new theme has full site editing, which makes the tidying up easier. Now that I’m past the terror.

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Here’s what I think I may have learned from this:

  • Liking the archive pages matters, because there’s a boatload of them.
  • Hiding tags and categories probably cuts down on daily views.
  • The daily views probably matter way too much to me, anyway.
  • Anyone who reads posts on this blog in the reader will never even know I changed the   box   theme unless I tell them. Not that there’s any consumer benefit.
  • I could have been a brand manager.

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[You could check out the new theme here. If you wanted to.]

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painting open book chalice
What does the caption look like on this theme, by the way? I haven’t used captions in so long I never even checked …

Image: “Woman Writing in an Interior,” Félix Vallotton, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; “Still Life with Cup and Book,” Antonín Procházka, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

6 responses to “Theme Change Trials and Tribulations”

  1. This post was so uncomfortably autobiographical for me! Thanks for sharing it and helping me know I am not alone! 🙂
    (Now I have to go to your blog and check it out, BTW, since mostly I just read posts of those I follow on the “reader” section of WordPress …)

    Liked by 1 person

      • Just went to yours. The pictures are fantastic. I see them in “reader,” of course, but the layout looks great. I cheat with mine–I employ my niece, who is brilliant, to edit my reflections (and suggest things for my poems) and generally “handle” the blog layout, making changes whenever I say, “Megan, I think I should …” I frustrate her, I know I do, because I want change but don’t generally accept suggestions for change. Oh it’s hard being stubborn!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, thanks! It’s the theme, of course – but nice to hear.

        I imagine it’s a labor of love for your niece, too! You remind me of a joke: “How many Presbyterians [or, whoever] does it take to change a lightbulb?” “Change??!!”

        Liked by 1 person

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