New Blog Theme

Genting Highlands Cable Car

I am impressed with WordPress. It tends to do what it says on the tin and the range of plugins and themes you can get enable you to add almost any sort of functionality.

Yesterday I decided to bite the bullet and install another theme. Actually, installing a theme is very easy. It really is a case of downloading it, activating it, and then seeing how it looks. In fact, you can even do a live preview so that you can see what it looks like before you activate it.

The problems potentially start after you activate the new theme. The type of issues that you might have to resolve are things like re-installing (or more accurately replacing) your widgets. This is quite easy if you can recall what widgets you had previously (so check beforehand). If you have a text widget where you have written your own html, javascript etc. best make sure that that you copy that text before you activate the new theme.

The other issue you might have is if you have updated any WordPress PHP scripts to add increased functionality, fix errors, or just change small things to make the theme look slightly better. In fact, I try not to amend the PHP scripts for exactly these reasons, but sometimes you just have to, to get the features that you need.

I decided to install the WordPress Twenty Eleven theme.  The previous one I was using was JaS Personal Publisher. I was actually very happy with it but I just wanted a change, as well as getting used to installing themes so that I could do it more easily in the future.

The only real problem I had was the fact that on smaller devices (phones, ipads, when you make the browser window smaller), the side bar goes below the main display. Apparently this is a design feature (and I’ve worked in the IT industry long enough to know what this means!).

It took a while, but I eventually found a fix for this feature. In essence, you delete a few lines from the style.css file and this forces a horizontal scroll bar, rather than moving the sidebar downwards.

The only piece of advice, which I was not aware of before, is to create a child theme. This inherits everything (in the same way that inheritance works in Object Oriented programming) from the main theme but if you ever get an update, then your changes are not overwritten.

Once I had the basics up and running, it was a case of making sure that all the settings were correct, uploading some header pictures to replace the standard ones that are supplied. I have gone with a loosely travel theme, where the pictures are of modes of transport at the moment. Things like planes, trams, cars and even cable care. Well, transport is a big Operational Research issue, which is one my main research interests.

The final thing I added was a couple of plugins that I downloaded. One enables people to vote whether they like/dislike a particular post. The other enables readers to share the post to various social networking platforms such as facebook and twitter.

I do like the look of the new theme, but I don’t think that it is perfect and I am still on the look out for something that looks good and provides all the functionality that I think I need.

The search continues but, for now, I am very happy with the new look and functionality of my blog pages.

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