I spent time yesterday working with the three sites ported from Movable Type. While I port each individual’s current look, I set up a PHP-based switcher they could use to try out some of the available WordPress Themes. There has been criticism that WP doesn’t look that great out of the box. I think the issue is that it doesn’t look like Apple wrote it – rounded corners and shaded lines, with bright lollypoppy or balloony colors. What the current style is, is functional. Best of all, it has a very clean layout that makes it easy to play around with different looks.
Loren gave me an okay to show what his site will look like under different themes. Here it is, in just a selection of the styles I moved into their sandbox environment:
The switcher only works if you add the URL parameter wpstyle=whateverstyle to each page.
There are a whole lot more themes, but I noticed that some of the styles suited Loren’s writing style, some did not. For instance, some of the styles had writing blocks that fit across most of the page. These did not suit th poetry that Loren embeds in his page, leaving far too much white space to the right. Loren’s own style extends to fit the page, but he has a large enough sidebar to balance it.
The Pink Lilies narrow writing space would work for his style of writing, with his symmetrical paragraphing, and good use of visual breaks. However, it would not work well with Loren’s use of photographs. If he used smaller photos, it might work within the layout, but the graphics would compete with the image. And if you used photos embedded directly into the text, a triple column format with images could be too fussy, unless you kept the use of geegaws to a minimum.
Weblog style is more than just a matter of taste and what colors you like, or whether you’re into that Apple thing with the rounded and the shaded and the aluminized faux future looks. The style has to not only work with what you write but how you write, and other material included. Shorter paragraphs demand more narrow columns; larger photos need a style that can accomodate, without the sidebar pushed down below the main content; poetry shouldn’t have excessive white space showing on any one side.
However, I’m not a page designer, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.