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Blogging 101, Day Five: Love Your Theme

Today’s assignment: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you first chose. Try one you’re drawn to, and one you would never use.

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Starting a blog is kind of like buying a house: you decide what neighborhood you want to live in, pick a house, and fill it with your stuff. For a blogger, that means deciding on a blogging platform, picking a theme, and publishing posts. You’ve already focused on #1 and #3, so let’s focus on #2.

Today’s assignment: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you first chose. Try one you’re drawn to, and one you would never use.

Why do this?

  • Because no one is going to spend more time on your blog than you, so you should love the way it looks.
  • Because, as with jeans, you never know if a theme fits until you try it on.

Preview or upload some new themes, or just try out some of the options available to you from your blog provider. Minimalists, try something ornate! Photobloggers, try a magazine-style theme! Shake it up. Try at least one that you don’t think you like at all.

And yes, do this even if you love your current blog layout. You never know what seeing your words displayed in a new way will inspire, and you can always keep the layout you love.

To help whittle down the options, try our three rules of thumb:

  1. Pick something that speaks to you. You might admire simplicity and bold typography on others’ sites, but if you’re personally drawn to something soft and romantic, head in that direction.
  2. Consider your content. If you know you’ll be posting lots of images, pick a theme meant to show off photos. If you love poetry, choose a streamlined theme that makes your words the star. (Not sure what you want to publish? Welcome to the 99%. Try everything!)
  3. Think about your priorities. Some themes have a very distinctive look out-of-the-box. Others let you add custom touches like headers and backgrounds, while some have a variety of layout options Take a look at a theme’s features and customization options.

We’ve chatted with a few bloggers about how they chose their themes, if you’d like advice right from the bloggers’ mouths, or check out some impressive theme transformations and get inspired. For help understanding theme features and functions, take a look at our guide to evaluating themes; for details on how to browse and preview themes, head here.

Questions? Ask away! As always, The Commons is there to continue your conversations.

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    1. Looks sharp! The one thing I may suggest is to use the “more” function on some of the longer posts. I have tried this after the first paragraph or so. This way people can easily scan your posts and choose what to read. I think it also helps track what posts are most viewed. (If that matters.)

      Keep up the good work.

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      1. Dear, Belindq:

        Thank you for mentioning that theme. As happy as I am with Ideation and Intent, I didn’t realize or pay attention to the fact that it’s a photo-oriented theme. After having begun to experiment with Motif, I find that it checks most of my major aesthetic goals.

        I mean considering how mobile-centric Millennials are I scratch my head when someone chooses a non-responsive theme; won’t that limit your readership or fans?

        But that does drastically reduce my options..!

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  1. Hey, I think I might skip this one because I tried an awful lot of themes before deciding to purchase one of the most affordable and value-for-money themes, Moka.

    Moka works for me because my site is more of a hub for all my activities, like the projects I’m doing, a portfolio page, and the blog section itself. If ya’ll love linking images along with posts, which I feel it works really good, you might wanna give it a try.

    Out of all the premium themes Moka for me, as mentioned earlier, will be one of the best, and offers a lot of customisability options if you know exactly what you want and how you want your content to be featured.

    You might wanna check out how I utilise this minimalist and simple theme over at my blog’s homepage: http://LhuWenKai.com

    btw, come over and say hi. The past few days, esp. yesterday, has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve made so many new friends, and I might even meet up with one when she comes over to my country for a holiday. Leave me a comment on any of my posts so I can snoop over to your blog and check your content out 🙂

    In the meantime, any feedback about how I utilise the theme, feel free to leave it in the comments.

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    1. This is gonna be an excellent assignment.I have been struggling with a good theme for months. II really like your left sidebar navigation. I’m so gonna have a look at this theme for todays assignment. Thank you.

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    2. Your theme and the way you are using it is very effective. Visually appealing and easy to navigate around. Given that I’m using a customised Quintus, I think I must be a fan of minimalist themes!

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    3. I really like the Moka theme – I like the way your posts layout in columns. It was on my short list, but I really wanted a dynamic header – so ultimately I went with one of the “wedding” themes and have been forcing it to work.

      I think I will hit a point when I will have to invest some $$ though and pay someone to make custom modifications I am just not tech savvy enough.

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    1. I just watched your blog, but I don’t see any posts yet. I like the picture in the header although it takes the whole screen on my laptop

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  2. It’s funny how I was doing this today and I ended up going back to the theme that I originally had. I feel like my current theme displays photos and words clearly and concisely!:-) Although I definitely want some feedback on what you guys think of the theme! My blog is: galacivilization.wordpress.com I’d appreciate any feedback!:-):-)

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    1. Hey there, I think your blog is pretty awesome but due to the sparse white background it does seem a little bare. But thats okay I guess because your blog is pretty much photo orientated from a first glance. Perhaps since you don’t have any categories or anything on the sidebar it might be cool to have a minimalistic colour background, not a patterned one so it doesn’t take away from the awesome photography posts 🙂

      would you be able to check out my blog too? http://www.sanabazaar.wordpress.com

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    2. If you try on lots of themes and keep going back to one of them, that’s a great confirmation that you have the “right” theme for you!

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    3. I like your theme it looks clean, although I would chose a little smaller header picture, because I can’t read the first title when I open your site.

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  3. I’ll do that! Thank you so much for posting this, because changing themes is something HUGE and takes a lot of (over)thinking, even though I’ve always wanted to try out something new and more comfy!

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    1. Hi! Very colourful layout! Personally, I think there is a little too much going on and I think it would be more effective if you had a plainer background. I think the combination of the patterned background and header takes away from them both and I don’t know which to focus on when I look at your page. If you just had one of the patterns I could give it my whole attention and I think it would be more effective. This is just my view though! Everything looks great apart from that though 🙂
      Sass x

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    2. Really enjoyed reading your blog, but the background picture is too ‘noisy’…it distract from the what you post. Keep the great work though as it was a pleasure reading your poems!

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  4. But…. but….
    Yeah… a good makeover might be good — a new theme might be a nice fit…. but…
    Come to think of it, I played around with different themes a few weeks ago, and ended up back on the one I’m using. It works, but isn’t exactly what I want, so I’ll keep exploring….

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  5. I chose the Highwind theme after days of trying out new themes. I still enjoy trying out new themes, but always seem to come back to Highwind. I like it because it is very simple and clean looking, the font is bold and easy to read, and I like the infinite scroll with the widgets on the side. It just suits me and makes me happy when I look at it.

    Let me know what you think!

    http://amforte66.wordpress.com

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    1. I like your theme. Trying to figure out how you got those tabs at the header. Not sure how to get them.

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      1. I like Amforte’s theme, too, mine is bouquet and has a similar sidebar. I’m pretty sure the tabs on the header are showing up there because those are her pages (as opposed to posts), and in the appearance/menus screen she has specified which pages she wants to appear in that menu location. Hope that helps!

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      2. Aisha is correct, they can be set up on the appearance/menu screen. It took some trial and error for me to figure out, but I’m sure you can do it!

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  6. I decided to use the Vagabond theme for my blog; it is travel themed with different languages on it! I had to buy it but I felt that it was not much to spend on an excellently design blog theme!!

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  7. I also spent the last three days doing just that! I think I am really happy with my layout now. I tried to concentrate on both my photography and the writing, while making it user-friendly at the same time. I even like the way the mobile layout looks. I tried many themes, but I think the Twenty Fourteen fit me very well once I figured out how to use the “featured” tag. That aspect of the theme is my favorite, because I pick a few of the pieces I enjoy the most and show them off!

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      1. Thank you so much for stopping to take a look and leaving me some feedback. I really appreciate that. 🙂 I’m glad you were happy to look at the display!

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  8. I’m happy I get to accomplish the assignments each day and it feels good because I really did focus on my blog’s appearance for the past 2 days and I’m finally satisfied with it now. 🙂 I can now concentrate on my blog’s content. Please have a visit. I have been reading and following new blogs, too but I couldn’t write comments yet because I’m on my phone and it sucks to type here. I promise to catch up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like your theme! Very cute. And I definitely agree, when you are happy with your theme and display it is so much easier to focus on the content. Good luck with your blog. 🙂

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      1. Thanks! 🙂 Yeah, I couldn’t promote my site when I was still not satisfied on how it looks. I’m going to visit your blog, too. Cheers. 🙂

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  9. I currently cycle between my current theme: Typo and Twenty Eleven. A lot of the themes available are pretty eye catching like: Sorbet and Adelle. I love the color scheme and the simple layout since I mostly do writing heavy posts versus pictures. The one I didn’t like just by looking at it is Writr. I felt the colors were too clunky and the layout didn’t bring your eye to the post on the page.

    Choosing a theme is almost as important as the blog itself. Inwish I knew more about the customization aspects of the themes. I never seem to get that right.

    http://www.angirach.WordPress.com.

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    1. Heyy, I really like your blog but feel it has a bit of a gloomy vibe due to the monotonous grey theme. Have you thought about trying a theme such as Tonal? Its Free, pretty minimalistic and a tad brighter than your current theme so it wouldn’t overshadow the literature on the page. Anyway let me know how you feel about it and please feel free to give me a little look over too 🙂

      http://www.sanabazaar.wordpress.com

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      1. I’ve been meaning to figure out how to play with the colors a bit in the Typo theme. I can see how it can be gloomy. I will definitely check out Tonal as soon as I get back to a computer. Thanks for the feedback!

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      2. Love your theme! It was one of the ones that caught my eye. I love that you add such vivid photos to your posts. I followed! I look forward to reading more from you and thanks again for the suggestion!

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  10. Hiyah, I have just tried out a new theme and also created a ‘brand logo’ as a header would like some criticism. I haven’t yet created a general theme for my blog in terms of posts so I have kept it fairly minimal and didn’t want to pick a theme that would take away from what I am posting.. anyway enough rambling I would love to hear some advice.
    http://www.sanabazaar.wordpress.com 🙂

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      1. Well it is actually a reference to my “about me” which was my old tagline, that I had shortened. But in terms of its meaning, I guess when many people seek advice they seek it from someone experienced in the field that they are researching in. Well in terms of the topics I post, I’d like to consider myself that “expert” :p … Plus it sounds rather nice 🙂

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  11. I’m enjoying this challenge very much. Already met some wonderful new people, and I loof forward every day to see what’s next. Today was easy, since I just opened this blog less than a week ago and tinkered with several themes before setting on the one I’m using: Oops! Just changed my mind! While looking for the name of the one I had landed on, I came across this lovely, dreamy picture of a lake, and it had me the minute I saw it. You just never know. “Misty Lake.”

    Like

  12. Which theme would you recommend for a Real Estate Consultant?
    I have spent hours trying to find one that is fitting but still have yet to LOVE one… Any suggestions are appreciated 🙂

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    1. Another thought — maybe a profile or portfolio theme? Searching for both those terms in the Theme Showcase Krista linked to will pull up some interesting options.

      Like

  13. This is a great blog for new comers like me I am stikl trying to figure out alot of things such as what to do for my blog to attract people to it and ect.. but good post thanks

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  14. I recently decided to focus on a new direction for my primary blog. My previously used themes would not support my new requirements. It took me hours to work out the priorities that I wanted and needed, but the actual ‘move’ (about a week ago) was a breeze thanks to WordPress. I ‘previewed’ over a dozen finalists before deciding on the one I did. Experience was a great teacher. There is no way I could envision what theme would work best until I had tried different ones. One of the reasons I signed up for 101 was to build up some content and readership before I officially roll out the new content. Thanks to you all for helping me field test http://gailmasinda.com

    The good news for me is since I have just changed themes, I consider this assignment done. And that gives me more time to wander around and look at more of *your* sites. 🙂

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    1. A small suggestion: you can use some HTML to link the “My Story” page you mention in the little widget describing you, so people don’t have to scroll up and find it in the menu — they can just click.

      This text:

      <a href="http://gailmasinda.com/about/" rel="nofollow">Read more of my story here</a>.

      will give you this:

      Read more of my story here.

      You can change the “read more…” bit to say whatever you’d like.

      Like

  15. Hello! Blogging since Jan 1 for a healthy New Years resolution (that i finally stick with!) but never changed my theme. I never even put much thought into picking it in the first place, unfortunately (I wasn’t too tech savvy back then and felt intimidated. But I was also so focused on content that I rushed thru what I felt was just the “mechanics”). My question is . . . Can it be off-putting to followers to change themes when they have already come to identify you or associate your blog with a certain feel?

    Also, I tend to be pretty obsessive and a bit impulsive. I am afraid once I open up this “Pandora’s Box” of interior decorating, I will switch it around often (I can be one of those “Lemme see the two hundred pound table over here. Hmm, no I don’t think so… How about this wall?” Types!). Good thing my blog is light. It’s humor!

    Thanks for any thoughts on the Switcheroo subject!!
    Stephanie

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    1. I think it would definitely be alright to switch your theme up! If you’re worried it’ll be off-putting to your existing readers, perhaps do a post on it, explaining the change and asking what they think.

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  16. http://lifesthousandmilejourney.wordpress.com

    Apparently I’m ahead of the game because I literally went through every theme (free ones anyway) after completing day 1 or 2. I originally had bushwick and at first I was happy. I had changed the picture to something that went with my title/tag. I ended up bored with it because I didn’t like how large the font was. So after playing around with other options and customizing them with the background picture I was wanting I finally settled on visual. I loved that I was able to customize the background with my own image and that it was still visual with the the content being on top. I also preferred the coloring to the white of bushwick.

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  17. I decided to try to do 101 and 201 at the same time, and covered this yesterday in 201. I discovered that I like parts of two themes–Michelle suggested that I hit the forums and see if there was a way to add some of the features I like to the theme I like. I was a little surprised by this exercise!

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  18. Not really happy with a plain background, today I did some digging around and found subtlepatterns.com. I now have a notebook effect as my background image – adding to the “writer” feel.

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  19. I need no encouragement to do this assignment. You might say I’m a bit compulsive because every time you send out a notice of new themes, I stop everything and preview it. When I started with WordPress four years ago, I think there were only 100 themes, so its been great fun to preview so many themes. I haven’t customized because I like to change often, so having all these themes is like having a delightful variety of candy choices in the candy store. Note my fun header now–a piano drenched in flowers from a local Macy’s Flower Show. htttp://loisroelofs.com

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    1. You can use either place — it can be a bit easier to have conversations in the Commons, as you can follow specific threads instead of having to get all the comments, which is what happens if you follow a thread here. They’re both just tools for you, so use them however you’d like.

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    1. Love it! Especially the custom header 🙂 I think it would look even better if you removed the default title of your blog directly underneath your beautiful custom on – I think you can do that by going onto the customize tab of your dashboard. You might not agree, but I think it would make it looks cleaner and more professional 🙂
      Would love to know what you think of mine – https://happilypolly.wordpress.com/

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      1. ps – sorry for the appalling grammar/typos in that comment! Was talking to someone whilst typing haha 😛

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  20. I have tried a few themes, but I’ll stick with the theme I have now. I just love seeing my header on the side (Even if it’s a header. haha). I hope you guys enjoy choosing your themes! 🙂

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  21. It has taken me forever to choose a layout as it is. I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to these things. I’m still not 100% happy with it. I’m not sure if the them suits it’s purpose.

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