UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Growing Popularity of this WordPress Theme

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 20 February 2007

Karen Blakeman has just described how she has successfully moved her blog from Blogger to WordPress.  I was good of Karen to share her experiences with others.

I also noticed that Karen has selected the same Andreas09 theme as I use on my blog (although with a different colour scheme).  I myself chose this scheme over Christmas after noticing that ajcann uses it on his MicrobiologyBites blog.

I find this theme useful as it provides two separate sidebar areas  with a central area for the blog content. I tend to use the left hand sidebar for widgets related to the blog contents (recent posts, recent comments,  access by date or tag, etc) and the right hand sidebar for access to information beyond the blog.

But when is this useful theme going to look cliched, I wonder?

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8 Responses to “Growing Popularity of this WordPress Theme”

  1. Hi Brian,

    Cliched? Oh no – time to start doing some more customisation! I am not going to ditch the two sidebars. They are far too useful, as you say, in terms of arranging widgets and additional content.

    BTW – the RSS2PDF button looks promising, although I noticed yesterday that the hosting site has had to disable images because of the high level of traffic. Several people have commented during my workshops on blogs that they would love to do a blog instead of producing a static web page newsletter but that some users like to print off everything to read on the train going home, or wherever. Doing an ordinary print of the front page of a blog usually results in all the sidebars and additional bits and pieces being printed unnecessarily. I know that others are developing scripts along the same lines. It would certainly make the transition from the “traditional” newsletter to a blog based one easier to achieve, and we would not have to maintain both at the same time!

    Karen

  2. As I said on your experiments page, as a reader I hate this theme, and it makes my brain hurt each and every time I load your blog. I could go on.

    As the author I’m sure you feel you’re just offering up the maximum amount of value, but I’d disagree. The first time someone visits, maybe; subsequent visits, not so much.

    Your content is about 135 words. Your combined sidebars give about 180 links. Let’s guess that 50% of those are about five words long. That’s almost 550 words in your sidebars, not including headings. I’d use FeedShake or Yahoo! Pipes to take the feeds in your right-hand column and merge them into a single feed and display the five or ten most recent items and then create a new separate “feeds” or “related resources” page (or something named better) which links off to the various locations your feeds are coming from.

    If your hosted provider lets you change your front page template from individual posts then maybe you could offer all this content on the home page, but reduce it on post pages (or vice versa)?

    Also you need to update your photo so that people will recognise you sans beard! :)

  3. ajcann said

    It is possible to customize the colour scheme in Andreas09, short of going the full css hog, but I like it the way it is. The price to pay for the three column layout is occasional wrapping oddities I’ve seen on different systems but never got to the bottom of.
    OTOH, after recieving stinging criticism of my Blogger blog Science of the invisible (http://scienceoftheinvisible.blogspot.com/) at the Blackboard conference in December, I switched from a three to a two column layout and I like that too.
    Overall, no contest though, WP wins hands down over Blogger.

  4. Hi Brian,

    I usually read your posts via Bloglines rather than your HTML site, but I do read here occasionally. I tend to agree with Phil Wilson’s comment that the page is in danger of becoming slightly overwhelming, mainly because of the number of links presented on every page. Certainly some of the links are useful, but I’m not sure they need to be replicated on every page (e.g. home/index page and individual post page).

    Also I guess I’d question the value of some of them: sure, “link-checking” is a useful function, but that’s your job not mine ;-) – or it’s the job of some third-party QA robot or whatever – but a human reader of your weblog has no use for a hyperlink they can click on to check your outbound hyperlinks. Well, unless they’re a real super-pedant. Ahem.

    Incidentally, and slightly OT, when I first encountered the Snap preview thing, I was seduced and thought it was very cool, but the novelty does rapidly wear off and I think it probably contributes to the sense of fatigue! Again, how useful is it to a reader to get a pop-up which provides no metadata about the target resource other than a thumbnail on which they can’t read any of the content? Yes, I found the “switch it off” option. ;-)

  5. Kara Jones said

    Hi Brian,
    Granted the three columns create a very busy site, but your audience is, I presume, quite net savvy, well versed in skimming and scanning for content and patterns.
    I’m not sure the colour is pantone 280 or hex code #003399 – do I need to point you to the university’s visual identity guidelines? ;)

  6. Hi Phil, Pete – many thanks for your feedback. This is appreciated.
    As described in the blog policies page this blog aims to provide a test bed for experiments, in addition to its dissemination and discussion roles. The various experiments, which include use of a variety of widgets in the sidebar, are therefore an important part of this purpose of this blog. As we have seen from Keren Blakemans’s comment about this post, such experiments can be useful in activelyt engaging the readers in the experiments (in this case, Karen described that the RSS to PDF service I had provided as a test bed has changed its functionality). Similarly S Washford’s first post on the Hampshire and Isle of Wight library land blog expresses her thanks to “Brian Kelly’s UK Web Focus blog and his Blog Experiments page chart his discoveries and experiments on the web.” and described how “Thanks to Brian I’ve discovered Meebo Me boxes and Sitemeter counters and been inspired by his posts on those hard to find UK Blogging Librarians.“.
    So I feel these experiments are proving of value to an important target audience for this blog.
    However I do appreciate that other readers will have more of an interest in accessing the content of the postings, and can (understandably) find the experiments distracting. It would be nicer if this blog provided the functionality for end users to select their preferred interface – however this is not possible. Another option is for the RSS feeds of the postings to be syndicated to another location which has provides a cleaner interface. In the longer run this may be my preferred alternative.
    Of course sophisticated blog readers are likely to make use of an RSS reader, so that the interface of this blog’s Web site should not really be an issue (and I have changed my posting style so that I know longer syndicate only the openning paragraph of a post to ensure that users of RSS readers are forced to visit the Web site to read the complete contents of a posting). Perhaps, in this case, the issue relates to being able to read comments and submit comments about a posting? Might this be an issue of the functionality of the RSS reader, I wonder?

  7. Des Walsh said

    Brian
    Any clue for this non-technical person about how you got the recent posts and recent comments to list with spaces between them? In my own installations of Andreas09 and others I’ve seen till now they are all bunched up – not a good look.

  8. Hi Des
    I’m afraid I’ve no idea why my implementation of the Adreas09 theme has line spaces between the items in the Recent Posts and Recent Comments sidebar and other uses of this theme don’t.

    On the subject of strange layout bugs, I noticed that the opening paragraph in Alison Wildish’s contribution (i.e after my introduction) to the
    Guest Post: Let The Students Do The Talking” post is squashed and several paragraphs are merged – despite severals efforts to try and fix this. I thought the problem was due to Microsoft characters (smart quotes, etc.) is the original, but I tried removing these to no avail.
    Sorry I can’t be of more help.

    Brian

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