Blog Simplification: Changing WordPress.com Themes

butterfly blog logoBlog Simplification by Guest Author Zeenat Merchant-Syal

Counseling Psychologist/Spiritual Counselor
Motivational Speaker/Naturopath
Blog- ~Positive Provocations~

I have been writing a Personal Development blog here on WordPress.com for more than a year now. When I typed that first sentence I just had such a huge grin on my face, cause although now I know quite a bit about blogging, when I started off, I was actually dumb in those regards. I remember the first time i opened my blog and published my first post, it was such a high. Even today, every time I publish a post its a huge high for me. Its hard to imagine that when Ii started blogging, I actually had no idea what a blog was. I just thought it was some odd website, and kind of an online journal.

Only after reading and researching did I realize what a powerful tool a blog can actually be. My research included reading blogs like problogger.net and Blogging for Dummies :) Surprise surprise that was the first time I actually read a book in the Dummies collection. I ain’t a dummy anymore, that much is sure. But, yes I am still learning. Everyday, I learn a new way to tweak my blog. And its so much fun! How wonderful is it that wordpress.com gives us the opportunity to have a free, let me repeat that free blog. Which is just as professional as a paid one and so much simpler to handle for people like me (technically challenged).

My biggest challenge in blogging has always been my theme.

thumbshot image Vigilance themeThere has always been something I wanted which my theme didn’t have. In the beginning I settled for Vigilance, cause it was simple, neat, had a custom header, customizable colors for links and background and was supposedly SEO friendly.

In time as I started using the theme and blogging more often, it started looking cramped. I had people tell me I should reduce the widgets or the font size etc. I tried but, really didn’t want to do away with anything. I used Vigilance for a whole year in fact I changed my theme only 5 days back. I was happy with Vigilance, but am happier with Inuit Types now. It fits my needs perfectly. But the transformation and the actual decision to change themes was very difficult for me. I had gotten too comfortable with Vigilance. It was my blog home. Changing a theme was like moving into a new home for me and it took some homework on my part. But thankfully for sites like onecoolsitebloggingtips.com and the wordpress.com forum I managed to make a successful change.

Positive Provocations Inuit Theme Snap Shot
If you are looking to change your theme:
You should firstly ask yourself why you want to change it?
What benefit will the difference make to your readers?
What are your objectives for the change?

Once you have these clear in your head, the change will come naturally. In fact it will become a necessity like in my case. My objective was to Simplify, like I am doing with my life. I am a simple gal at heart, live a simple life and believe clarity of thought comes with simplifying every aspect of your life. I live a clutter free life. Since my blog is an extension of me, its just natural for that simplification to trickle down to it too. Hence, choosing the theme.

Once you choose the theme, I followed Timethief’s sage advice and tested it on a mirror/test blog for almost a week. When i got comfortable with the look, the colors, the customizations and the feel of this new theme- I clicked ACTIVATE! A little more tweaking was required once I clicked activate, but it was just a matter of a click here or a click there. And, within half an hour of clicking Activate, my theme was customized and ready to be accepted by my readers. Yay!

I am so happy with this simplification process of my blog. It just feels right. My readers are happy with it too and have sent me thank you messages for making the change. What more can I ask for? The simple gal got her simple theme, the simplest way possible :) Thanks to Timethief and the wordpress.com forum!

Related post found in this blog: Select a WordPress.com Theme 2

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23 thoughts on “Blog Simplification: Changing WordPress.com Themes

  1. Pingback: Positive Provocations is all bright, shiny, new and three years old! Woohoo! | ***Positive Provocations***

  2. I am combing through your archives and learning quite a lot, I too use the inuit type theme and I love it, it’s so white and simple!! I love how it displays pictures!! Though the only problem I have is that it does not show, the authors name at “posted by” still searching to see how I can get over this one :)

  3. Howdy,
    I’m a newbie to wordpress, & have a question for timethief. I want to set up my blog on wordpress.com to look more like a website than a blog. I am graphic designer so I want to have a showcase of my work, but also want to include a blog to share my interest & thoughts. In one of your post you ended with something about “if your purpose is to sell products and/or services that you yourself provide through the blog, then you may wish to create a page structured “mock website” on your wordpress.com blog”.

    Questions:
    1 – What are your suggestions of themes to use to this?
    2 – Is there a way not to have comments on post or pages?
    3 – Should I using post or pages to support my navigation (Home-About, Portfolio, Services, Blog)?
    4 – I understand that with wordpress.org I have a lot more customization & can use my own url, is it easy to migrate over & keep the look & feel of my wp.com site?

    Thanks in advance.

    • If you wish to sell products or services created by anyone other than your self you must do that on a wordpress.ORG install. That’s because wordpress.COM does not allow their blogs to be used to drive traffic to third party sites, and/or to be used for reselling or retailing purposes. wordpress.com blogs cannot be equipped for ecommerce. We can have a payapal donation button and a contact form but that’s it.
      See > http://wordpress.com/types-of-blogs/
      > http://en.support.wordpress.com/advertising/
      > http://support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/
      > http://en.support.wordpress.com/paypal/
      > http://en.support.wordpress.com/contact-form/

      1. I would use one of the hew themes that are equipped with custom menus and extra features like feature images. Having a custom menu means you choose what to display (archives, static pages, links, categories, etc.) in the horizontal menu. This creates the appearance of you being able to post to more than one page despite the reality that there is only one running page on which all posts are published and displayed. Upon publication the same posts appear also in Archives and in Categories as well.

      Currently, the following themes have custom feature enabled: Twenty Ten, Structure, Vostok, Bueno, Enterprise, Notepad, Paperpunch, MistyLook, Under the Influence, Vigilance, Greyzed, Wu Wei, Blix, Cutline, Freshy, Contempt, Ambiru, Digg3, Koi and Modularity Lite.

      http://en.support.wordpress.com/menus/

      http://en.support.wordpress.com/featured-images/

      http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2010/06/17/custom-menus-arrive-at-wordpress-com/

      2. We can disable comments on individual posts and pages. We can also disable them on the entire blog > Settings > Discussion. However, we cannot remove the “leave a comment” or whatever phrase is coded into the theme in it’s place. We can only deal with that through purchasing the CSS upgrade and doing the editing work.

      http://en.support.wordpress.com/custom-css/

      http://en.support.wordpress.com/editing-css/

      3. These in my opinion Home-About, Portfolio, Services are all information that rarely if ever changes and that’s what static pages are for. Static pages do NOT automatically update. The only way to change anything on them is by editing and without clearly understanding the differences between pages and posts a blogger can easily become confused. Please read carefully and be sure you understand all the points in this post > http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2010/05/12/better-blogging-at-wordpress-com-pages-and-posts/

      4. We cannot edit the templates underlying our themes at wordpress.com as this is a multiuser blogging platform. In essence all blogs using the same theme are using the same underlying template and any editing would affect all of them. Consequently only Staff can access template files and edit them.

      In a wordpress.ORG install you do have the ability to hack the template and the theme and the CSS and provided you have the skills to do that then “yes” the ability to customize a wordpress.ORG install is far greater than what one can do with a wordpress.COM theme.

      It’s easy to transfer blog content and links between wordpress.COM blogs and wordpress.ORG installs. See > http://en.support.wordpress.com/moving-a-blog/#moving-to-wordpress-org See also > http://en.support.wordpress.com/blogroll/import-export-links/

      However, do understand this. The Google Page Rank and Technorati authority and rank belong to the root blog ie. the original wordpress.com URL for the blog. If you purchase a domain name and move the blog to another URL all the links will be broken unless you also purchase domain mapping so readers are seamlessly transferred between the URLs.

      The PageRank on the new blog on your domain will drop to 0/10. That can’t be avoided, however, in about 4 – 6 months time, all things considered you may be able to restore it.

      http://en.support.wordpress.com/domain-mapping/

      Whew! Happy blogging. :)

  4. Hi TT, I have many questions related to wordpress.org and wordpress.com. I’m sorry I post them here as I haven’t found any post related to this topic. So sorry for disturbing this post.
    So, I have a wordpress.com account thelifeofdecci.wordpress.com which only provides limited control over it’s plugin and such. I’m considering to move to WordPress.org. I’ve read many explanations on this but still have these questions in my mind:
    1. Will I still have the same blog account?
    2. Do I then have to pay, as WordPress.org is seemingly much more flexible than WordPress.com.
    3. Do I have to install it in a computer, then I have to always use that same computer/PC to edit it?
    I’m a newbie in this blogging world. I blog for fun. So, I don’t want to pay for anything yet :p
    Thanks..

  5. I wish I had read this earlier as I’ve just changed themes. It took me quite a bit of looking and a couple of false starts to get their. I needed something simple, easy to work with yet able to grow with me and allow me to do new things. But I like the idea of working out what it is you want to achieve and then your selection becomes natural. In the end I think that’s what happened.

    Nick

    • Hi Nick,
      Yours is a wordpress.ORG install and not a wordpress.COM blog. I want to say that up front so my readers don’t become confused. Best wishes with your blog. :)

  6. Yes, I did get a little off topic on metrics info. on public sidebar on a theme.
    At this time, the greatest level of interest are the type of subject google searches people are conducting where they land onto our blog. Though the primary aim of audience is potential clients, there is a secondary set of readers who are just ordinary cyclists and cycling advocates who may /may not be aligned with organizations that have very little funds at this time.

    It would be interesting to see info. on Google translation page workaround and also get feedback from real bilingual/trilingual folks. From people who I know personally, they may use it as a start but then they have to refine the translation for accuracy. My partner can read some and write basic German enough that he can figure out that Google is not his total answer. (unless he wants to embarrass himself to his relatives or to the international cycling community).

    But something that is exercised with a huge dose of caution, is better than nothing (unless it has health/legal/job consequences).

  7. @Jean
    I agree with the advice you gave here:

    “So brand-new WordPress bloggers (who already have full-time jobs doing something else) just about to launch their new baby, would be advised to spend decent time at beginning to have a theme that they really like its features.”

    The theme subject and the metrics subject aren’t directly related. No theme that I know of has built in metrics. All blog sites I visit have at least one metrics program running and most have more than one metrics program running. Many use Google Analytics, and most make money, professional and/or business bloggers have “invisible” visitor tracking on their blogs.

    Where ie. which countries visitors are coming from and demographics are IMO important information. What I discovered prompted me to add a Google translation page workaround to my blog for 53 different languages. http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/translation/ and this is something I will be blogging about

  8. Thx for the feedback TiTi. I was dimly aware that Mistylook was /is still quite popular.

    One thing for certain if I had a full-time job, I couldn’t have had this amount of time to blog across 2 blogs, much less even nominally choose a decent template since I spend a good chunk of time biking when the weather is decent.

    Not surprisingly, alot of people who blog part-time for fun, non-monetary reasons/as a hobby might have blog themes that they are 75% happy but don’t want to invest the energy and additional time to change their theme.

    So brand-new WordPress bloggers (who already have full-time jobs doing something else) just about to launch their new baby, would be advised to spend decent time at beginning to have a theme that they really like its features.

    The thirdwavecyclingblog:
    In chatting up with Prez. of firm, he doesn’t want Statistics counts, nor geographic-specific live traffic feeds in the blog’s sidebar….which I’m not surprised. He does not want to give the impression that he/his firm cares about such data (which he knows blog hit counts can be misleading) vs. the blog content/consulting services that his firm provides to a highly select group of client organizations that would actually need such specialized consulting services.

  9. This is a bit off-topic, but do you know if there’s a way for me to track my followers? I haven’t purchased a domain yet, but it would be nice to be able to keep track of everyone for the time being. I’ve been passed over for reviews and giveaways simply because I don’t have a proper head count. Help?

  10. I suppose the only reason to change to a different theme is to make it more legible/stark? The thing is that Inuit or Vigilance is just that, but then other people use it too. So it ends up looking similar to others after awhile.

    My blogs are already simplified enough.
    Other one is: http://www.thirdwavecyclingblog.wordpress.com, in addition to what’s linked to my name already. The company blog needs to keep a clear logo. Not a good idea to remove it since it’s tied to the company website.

    If there’s going to be a change it won’t be for awhile.

    That’s great you’re happy Zeenat with the change!

    • Hi Jean,
      Did you know that Misty Look is among the most popular themes used by both wordpress.com bloggers and by wordpress.org bloggers who use free GPL themes too? It’s now at Version 3.7.2 for wordpress.org bloggers http://wpthemes.info/misty-look/ The wordpress.com version has yet to be updated.

      Of course there is a similar appearance but the way each blogger chooses to personalize the basic theme with headers and widgets and textboxes with backfround colors, etc. leads to differentiation. I used Misty Look immediately after it was introduced here because it allowed for a custom header and had some page templates for Archive and Links but that where the customizable options end.

      I also used Vigilance which has even more options than Misty Look has but then the many optional special features of Inuit Types entered the picture when it was just recently introduced at wordpress.com. I chose to use the Inuit Types themes because it has a clean appearance and all the features that I want in a theme at this point in time. I think that Zeenat made her choice based on those elements as well.

      P.S. There will be a delay when it comes to Zeenat answering comments so that’s why I chimed it. :)

    • HI Jean,
      My objective was simplification..but yours can be a different objective. And alternately you can be happy with your current theme too. It’s all a matter of personal choice. But that said…although there are fewer themes which appeal to the mass wordpress.com bloggers…we can certainly customize each to our liking…like how TT said…with widgets and colors and headers. Finally, it takes a need to change the theme to actually go ahead and do it. …I felt that need…and did it. When you do feel it…you know what factors to look into before the change…thanks to TT and the forums..right :)
      Much Love,
      Z~

  11. Hi TiTi,
    Thank you so much for letting me share my minuscule blogging experience here with your readers. I hope this post helps your readers in choosing the right theme for their blog…in the most simplest way possible. WordPress.com is amazing that way..they really do make things simple for us simple folk :)
    Just this morning I was talking a friend of mine who is hosted on blogger…and he was thinking of shifting to wordpress. I think i kind of sold him on wordpress.com…I could become their indian promotion representative ;) I cant seem to stop harping about wp.com …. :)
    Much Love,
    Z~

    • @Zeenat
      I was delighted to publish your guest post. It will be encouraging and helpful to those who do struggle with making theme changes to hear what the experiences of others have been. They can remove the stress of making a transition by setting up and using a test blog. There are also resources available so they can determine which features are the ones they will need to present their content to their readers in the best way possible. And the process begins with answering your three basic questions :
      You should firstly ask yourself why you want to change it?
      What benefit will the difference make to your readers?
      What are your objectives for the change?

      Thank you so much for sharing your theme change story.
      Love,
      TiTi

        • G’day Zeenat,
          I was extremely busy yesterday. I had company who brought me the “girls” (two Chihuahuas). I have been bonding with them and helping them settle in to their new home. :)

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