The Right WordPress Theme

Remember the Good Ship Author Platform? My attempt to journey on a sea of mixed metaphors in a quest to build the perfect author platform for agents to be thoroughly impressed by. And do you remember that ship crashing into the harbour wall before it hit the open sea?

I’m having another Ed Reardon moment and despairing at my inability to fettle this WordPress business. I look at this theme, Twenty-Fourteen, and its lack of clarity; what we landscape architects describe as legibility of space.’ How do you navigate it. More importantly, where are my books?

It’s a mess and has the added disgrace of looking bloody awful on a small device.

My problem is balancing functionality with appearance. I need to signal to people that I don’t write Barbara Cartland romances and that I’m not one of those smiley people who agrees with everything.

In the past I’ve used themes with side columns, but those columns don’t appear on devices held vertically. I’ve used themes that didn’t let you control the background colour, and there’s something not right about vampire and horror novels promoted on a white background.

Themes with sliders, themes with mosaics, themes with the right layout, but the wrong typeface. Themes with not enough menus, themes that don’t list categories.

I don’t want to go down the route of with its additional widgets and better design on external hosting sites. I use because it has the functionality built in, but there must be the perfect theme out there that allows the book promotions to be visible, but not overbearing; that allows obvious and simple navigation in an eyecatching design that works on every device.

I’m going to try a new theme called Gateway, so don’t adjust your monitors or think, ‘oh, ‘ere we go again…’ Normal service will resume as soon as possible. By the time you read this post everything might have changed. . . .


I’m writing this several days after writing the original text above. The Gateway theme isn’t working either. Anyone reading this on a phone or a tablet will probably only see two faces in the banner at the top of the page. In the theme preview, WordPress shrinks the image to show you how it appears on a small device; in reality it does nothing of the sort. And in landscape format on a tablet or phone all you see is the top of someone’s head!

And the post summaries are cut off before the ‘read more’ break inserted into the post. Gateway falls down on so many fronts. So it’s back to the drawing board. Or maybe just give up the whole shaboodle. Hardly anyone reads any of this stuff anyway.

Why did you choose the theme that you use on WordPress?

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10 thoughts on “The Right WordPress Theme

  1. I’m on the ancient and creaky Misty Lake theme. I looked for the most journalisticalish-looking (technical term) theme I could find and just went with that, because I knew my blog was going to be dreadfully wordy, and I didn’t want to mess around too much with spangley dangliness (cosmological slang). I fear sometimes it looks amateurish, but I have to stick with content being my king because I don’t have time for anything else.

    I wish there were Art Directors for blogs, providing a professional makeover for a small fee (e.g. witty repartee, or a 1-line haiku). But in the meantime, it’s a constant niggle. For instance, all my posts are available in full on my home page just by scrolling down, because I guessed that if I tried to force people to click through to each post all the time, they just wouldn’t bother – but as a result, I might have lost out on 50% more hits, which is childishly annoying.

    But, as you most definitely didn’t ask for my opinion, I’ll tell you that I like the new organisation of your site these days – I think it’s much easier to navigate. I will say though, Chris, and ignore it at will, but in my trawls around the Interweb, very many people say that trying to read white text on a black background is difficult, and can be off-putting. I get what you’re saying about your content influencing theme, but if your blog is text-heavy, it might need to be as legible as possible to as wide an audience as possible, even if it mightn’t look as groovy as we like. Now I’ll shut up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. White on black sometimes troubles me too. The WordPress ‘Piano Black’ theme is difficult for me and my eyesight isn’t totally knackered yet.

      For the time being I’m trying the ‘Visual Theme’ which is white on dark grey, but with bigger letters and more space. The alternative is Baskerville.

      I like both these themes because of the grid layout on the pages with all the posts; it has a busy look to it, and with images has a magazine feel, which I’ve been trying to recreate. (And if people leave their laptops and tablets on a coffee table…)

      But for now it’s stil a work in progress, but if you think the navigation is better that’s a big positive. I wonder what others think.

      Your own blog works perfectly. Do you want to have the full post on the home page? I use the ‘continue reading’ thing, but make sure the opening paragraphs are inviting to hopefully draw people to click on the article.

      But even if your blog did have spangliness and cosmic bangles it wouldn’t alter the unignorable content.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s good to know what people think, Chris, I think a post like yours is a great idea to get feedback. I’m glad you think my blog works. I’ll stick with the full post on the home page for now, because I don’t want to become too obsessed about how many hits the blog is getting, we’re bad enough already, most of us! I really like the look of your blog, but just bear in mind that I was reading it late last night and it looked like white on black to me – maybe I was just tired…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The way I did it was look at what I needed and went with that. I didn’t realize that what I need in 2012 still remains true to what remains on my site to this day. I picked my theme based on function and presentation. I was going for minimalism.


  3. I think the Twenty-something (that sounds a bit ludicrous) themes are quite versatile. Twenty-Ten can be customised to quite a large extent, while Twenty-Thirteen is clean and simple. They are the two I use. Mind you, I don’t often visit them on a tiny hand-held device. But they look okay on my black-and-white screen set in a rosewood cabinet. And I love watching the little white dot when I log out.
    Cheers, Alen


    1. I’m using twenty-fourteen at the moment. I need a theme that can handle a lot of disparate content (the three Rs: writing, reviews and rock bands…)

      Now that I’ve sorted out the structure I think I’m getting closer to which is the right theme.

      And now I’ve got a mental image of you listening to your mp3s through a player connected to an enormous horn.


  4. I just went for something simple that worked with the pictures and set ups I had. I forgot what my original theme was, but I switched to the current one over a year ago. Though I really can’t remember why. Guess I’m no help.


    1. I just checked. You use the Twenty Ten theme. Part of my problem is that I’m not sure how I want to use this blog: promotion, shouting, reviewing, selling, or what! I need a theme that caters for the undecided.


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