I’ve been trying to replace the site theme since 2015. I’ve also been trying to switch web host for a couple of years. Well, congratulations to me: I did both in four days.
Every hour I’ve had in the last few days has been plugged into this work, as well as many hours I didn’t have. The main changes:
- At long last, HTTPS (self-certification). This has increasingly been causing problems in recent years. The most recent shock was the discovery that adding https sent Electron Dance readers to a place that was most definitely not Electron Dance.
- Streamlined the design. Readers usually end up here via social media and not through browsing or RPS or Critical Distance. So I’ve pared things down: the front page no longer shows opening snippets. I admit I miss the suspense of the snippets building excitement but it’s probably for the best. It’s possible I’ll go even further and remove the little box at the bottom asking you to subscribe and check out the book. I’m not sure the new “Related” section below is doing much, either.
- A proper featured section promoting the most recent pretty good pieces. I always had those little “featured posts” which were made entirely by hand and so I neglected to add more. I’d have preferred if it was randomized as before but this is the theme I’ve ended up with.
Some current problems with the new design.
- When I first saw the theme, link highlighting was working. At some point it stopped. Without all the CSS surgery I’ve made, all of the links just look like normal text. But this surgery isn’t perfect and links don’t quite look right everywhere: the comments section on the side and on any WordPress “page” they look fugly.
- A bunch of images are missing. They’re actually there, but the image URL on the site’s previous home doesn’t quite match the location here. This is all to do with how WordPress resizes images and renames the resized versions. I still don’t know what I did wrong but I think the fix is just to merge in the entire images folder from the old site. I’ll get onto that some time this week.
- Embedded audio player doesn’t work. I have no idea why. The WordPress Jetpack plugin is supposed to handle that but it isn’t. So you have to click the link to the mp3 file to play any of the old podcasts.
Anyway, I’ll be interested to hear what the readers think. Originally I had this idea of picking out a few potential candidates and turning the decision over to all of you. Here was another option which was structurally very similar to what I’d lived with for over ten years:
And here’s one that I’d installed on a hidden test WordPress site several years ago. It attracted me but it was not attractive enough. I left it there with hope in my heart that I would one day finish the job of crafting a new look for the site:
The problem was the effort in getting from “activate theme” to making it look reasonable was hideous. Sorry, everyone, I went all autocratic and stole your vote. It’s quite in vogue.