Is it time for a new look?

No, I’m not referring to myself. If I was, the answer would be pretty simple. I’ve been overdue for a new look since…well, since high school probably. So, you can keep your comments about how I look to yourself.

My question is about the look/design of the blog. Yesterday, I began reflecting on the future of this blog by asking, “Is it time for a new name?” Thanks for all the great feedback. I haven’t made any decisions yet, but you’ve given me plenty to think about.

Today’s question has to do with the look and feel of the blog. Since the header is the first thing you see, let’s begin there. There’s a bit of a story behind our current header. It all started with the fact that the generic image for this header had a bridge in it. When I thought it was time to have our own header, I put out a call for suggestions and commented that any header with a bridge needed to have a troll in it. After a lengthy and fun discussion (see here, here, and here), we had a new header (graciously designed by Nick Norelli) complete with its own allegorical explanation. That header has served us well for a while, but I’d like to know what you all think. Is it time for something new?

I’m also thinking about changing the basic theme/design of the blog. We’ve been using the same theme since the blog started and I’d like to switch to something a little more flexible. If you have any thoughts on the overall look and feel of the blog’s theme, I’d appreciate hearing them.

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on January 31, 2011, in Misc. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I’m partial to the Twenty Ten theme so my vote is to switch to that. I like the header for obvious reasons, but if you want something to go with the blog’s name then you’d do better to change it. Unless you do end up changing name to something having to do with bridges, trolls, or both.

    • Thanks Nick. I really appreciate the work you did on the header and I think it’s done a good job expressing the fun/quirky side of the blog. Thanks for putting that together.

  2. There’s nothing wrong with trying a few different themes. I used a green one very similar to your current theme for my first two years blogging. I made a switch to my new theme and I like it a lot better. Some of the new themes just have more flexibility and control over content, plus a slicker interface. I’m not sure what your preference is, but there is a nice selection to experiment with.

    I also like your current theme, it’s always been one of my favorites. If you don’t find something that is an improvement, you might as well stick with what works. It’s clean and simple and the comment area is great. It is the first thing I would change from my theme, to have tiered comments.

    • Do you have any experience with a self-hosted blog? There are some really good themes available for self-hosted WordPress blogs that aren’t available on wordpress.com. I’m thinking about making that one of my upcoming questions, but I’m curious if you’d tried anything like that.

      • I’ve not tried self hosting. My brother has done so and obviously has a lot more control over how his blog functions. I know a lot of people eventually go this route because they want that extra control over content.

        I can’t really justify the expense though since the wordpress hosted blogs still work extremely well. I guess if you really need the extra control it is worth it, but not in my case.

        Another issue is the technology itself. You want to make sure that you, or someone you know, will be able to get the web space and blog set up and functioning properly. It’s not incredibly hard, but it is a significant hurdle to consider.

      • Thanks Nathan. Those are the reasons that I went with the free wordpress option to begin with, and they’re the same reasons that I’m hesitating with the self-hosted option. But, as you note, there are some things you can do with a self-hosted blog that are intriguing. Like everything, there are tradeoffs both ways.

      • I was just thinking Marc, you might just try a few of the newer themes that have more features. If you don’t like them then you might know whether to self-host or go back to this theme.

        It seems like the themes that came out in 2010 had 3-5 more features in them than the ones that were available when I first started. I think I’m going to poke around and see if I can find a list of the more fully-featured free themes.

  3. I have to agree with Nick, that they twenty ten theme is a favorable theme. If you have access to your CSS Style Sheet, there is plenty of minor adaptions and emendations that could be made to make it apropos to your interests.

    As far as the Header is concerned—well—you should just purchase mine. ☺ I am working on a second header for Biblical Exegesis & Interpretation that is similar to my current header, but changing of the guard. Of course, Wittgenstein will still have to maintain center, but I could offer you the unseen header and replace some of the hermeneutes with Theologians, Latin Mss, and Church Architecture—what do you think?

  4. This is probably a dumb question, but I’ll ask it anyway: What is a theme?

    p.s. I like your current header.

    • The theme is the background colors and general layout of the blog. You will find that some blogs have a header image and others just have a text title. This blog has a green/yellow background, while my own blog for example has a blue background. The location of the side bars and info at the bottom/top of the blog content all makes up the theme of a blog. Additional features include the comments section and the way hyperlinks to internet content works.

      WordPress has a lot of themes available for free that people can choose from. Alternatively, one can pay money for a web host space and do everything on your own. The advantage is you have near complete control over how your blog appears and how it functions. The disadvantage is price and the increased technology micromanagement of making the blog function correctly.

  5. Okay, so these seem to be some of the newer themes from 2010 that have more features in them:

    Clean Home
    Coraline
    Oulipo
    Paperpunch
    Pilcrow
    Structure
    Twenty Ten
    zBench

    I’d give them a try (or at the least a preview) before looking into self hosting your blog. I went with Structure, but some of the others are even newer and look pretty nice.

    • Hey, thanks for looking into that. Very helpful. I’ll take a look at those themes and see what they’ve got.

      • No problem. I’ve been thinking about changing my theme again so I was already starting to look for some of the newer ones. I also just found the WordPress.com Theme Showcase. In the bottom right corner is a section for Recently Added themes:

        http://theme.wordpress.com/

  6. I just saw that they came out with a new one this week:

    http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/new-theme-duster/

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