I hate all themes

I hate every WordPress theme I try. All of them. I hated the ones I was using because they were cluttered and ugly, and I hate these because every single one of them has some issue of being ugly, or being difficult to use, or doing idiotic things with font faces.

I hate this theme, and I’m not happy with the main site look, but I don’t have time to do a redesign. I have to do lessons.

I want to do something beautiful, low-tech, low-bandwidth, well-optimized, that won’t screw up my existing links.

{screams quietly}

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

21 comments… add one
  • lunsh Nov 27, 2008 @ 14:06

    I just wanted to say that I’m a student at the University of Texas and I design for the university’s College of Education and I’m trying to build up a web design portfolio. You can see my work at http://www.lunsh.net/.

    I’m definitely familiar with Wordpress themes and I could make you a theme for free or cheap, just because I’m a kid and I need the experience. I don’t want to sound like a scammer because I’m not. πŸ˜›

    Well, let me know if you’re interested.

  • Noucamp Nov 24, 2008 @ 11:04

    Holly, I recommend you check out David Airey, http://www.davidairey.com. A freelance webdesigner, he really knows gis subject, and as to you worried about losing your links, I understand he has also faced similar issues.

    He has used his blog to deliver his brand, a great way to utilise blogs, of course.

  • Shaela Nov 21, 2008 @ 11:03

    Is there any chance that someone on FM would be able to help? (A lot of us found the comm through your articles about writing, after all. And itÒ€ℒs possible that someone there has the know-how to do what you need done.)

  • dpinion Nov 20, 2008 @ 18:03

    One more thing, Holly, and please don’t think I am here to bash, I only want to help as you have helped me get started on my writing with no holds barred instruction.

    One of the major pains (to me) about your site, is that navigation is not carried throughout. For example this page. I have no way of going anywhere else on your site (including the home page).

    Keeping clear, consistent navigation from page to page is essential to help improve bounce rate.

  • dpinion Nov 20, 2008 @ 17:38

    Holly,
    Knowing what you want is a huge part of the battle. I agree that a CMS would be ideal for what you are wanting, but also sympathize with the problem of external links. I have done 2x over the site(s) for the company I work for, and that is definitely a major concern. Oh, and one word on SEO, don’t put much worry into it.

    Why?

    As you say, you have numerous links to this site, which is a LOT of the SEO battle. You have tons of content that is relevant to your primary subject, and if someone is looking for you, well, you are easy to find.. πŸ™‚

    Your main problem as you know is simply the layout of the html pages. Having nice clean navigation and prompting on the home page is obviously ideal in making your visitors want to dig deeper. The main nav at the top is wonderful, the table, not so much.

    For one it takes away from the top nav, the other is there is too much text and, well, it just looks messy. But the home page is the easy fix. Following it through your site and making the other pages flow well.

    Just an fyi about me, I chased away our marketing department that wanted to throw lots of images and flash on our pages. So not all of us web geeks are not into all the flash (pun intended).

    I am sure there are many on the site that could help you sort out your dilemma, but I wanted to offer my thoughts and assistance should you have any questions.

  • klcthebookworm Nov 20, 2008 @ 15:18

    I hear you with the wave of the magic wand. I need a multi-duty wand though, one that will get the dishes and the laundry done too. Glad I could at least help clarify things for you and good luck with the search.

  • hollylisle Nov 20, 2008 @ 14:54

    I like Drupal. I’ve looked at it. But for me, it would be a weblog-only fix, and my problem really isn’t with the weblog, which just pisses me off because I can’t find a theme I like.

    It’s with the rest of the site, which is entirely in html, and which is built of hundreds of pages to which tens of thousands of other sites link—and not just at the top level, but way in deep. Drupal or any other content management system, (i.e. sane, logical, SIMPLE solution) would break ALL of those links.

    I have Dreamweaver CS3 and Fireworks CS3 and a bunch of other great tools. And no time to use them. I’m fairly web-savvy, and competent at learning new technology if I think it will help me. And website design used to be a fun hobby for me, too. But my available time has shrunk to the point where I just resent it now. I want to wave a hand and have the site I want magically appear.

    And you’re exactly right on defining the job as a one-time thing with ongoing contact with the designer for updates beyond my ability. This helps me define what I need much better. Thank you.

  • klcthebookworm Nov 20, 2008 @ 13:26

    You don’t need to be a monthly client. You need to be a one time client to get a system and design into place that will allow you to do the simple blog posts/article additions/new item for sell all by yourself and without it breaking the design. Market the design job as a one-time gig with a caveat to come back to the same person any time something happens and you need help to fix it. You may have to pay for each fix, but it shouldn’t be a monthly bill. Because once you have a great cohesive look in place on the web, you live with it until it no longer fits your needs. Which doesn’t seem to be a problem except when Wordpress upgrades, it throws everything connected to it for a crazy loop. Then it drives you crazy trying to fix it.

    I have no experience with Wordpress, but I have designed a site Alt. Biker Mice Site with Drupal and can second Charlene’s recommendation. I have hiccups in that site that I need to iron out, but using Drupal to set up the behind the scenes stuff and what users are allowed to do was a dream! And has gotten easier with their latest upgrade that I have used to create a not-live-yet extension of my home website. The greatest chunk of that will continue to be plain HTML pages, but I’m adding Drupal in to take care of my feedback features. National Novel Writing Month‘s official website is also using Drupal. The Drupal builders take pains when upgrading the software to make sure it doesn’t constantly break your design. Open source is fun like that.

    Website design is hobby fun for me, but right now I’m trying to finish my Masters’ and can’t in good faith say I’d love to take on your project. But the Drupal organization has people who use it professional, and I’ve seen hire out notices in the forums before. And at this point you do need a professional. And a professional website designer is interested in making their client happy. If you find one who is adamant about using all the bells and whistles as opposed to what the client wants and has good reason to ask for, you don’t hire them. Just like you wouldn’t hire a contractor who wants to build you a garage when you asked for a new bathroom. πŸ˜‰

  • hollylisle Nov 20, 2008 @ 12:57

    IMPORTANT POINT: I don’t have a bandwidth limit for me. If I need more bandwidth, I buy it. What I do have is a huge number of readers who are still on dial-up and still using obsolete browsers, and I refuse to have a site they can’t use.

    This means that I am intentionally and with malice aforethought tying the hands of designers behind their backs and telling them “All the cool new tools you have come to love, have come to depend on—all the cool new toys that allow you to show off your gorgeous sites to prospective clients? You can’t use any of those. AND you need to cut the front-page bounce rate WAY down. AND the whole site still needs to look professional, but friendly and laid back. AND I have hundreds of pages of content in place all lacking keywords and descriptions, all needing an easier way for my readers to find them. AND once you get the site built, I have to be able to do the site updates myself using the SSI system I developed because I am a writer and one of the things about writing is that writers have irregular incomes, so I can’t be a monthly client of yours because I cannot put my site at risk if the month comes that I can’t pay you.”

    Who is good and reasonably priced ($100/hour, which seems to be the going rate for designers I checked out, is nowhere near reasonably priced for me or my budget, btw,) who would want those constraints, or me as a client? I wouldn’t. I sound like a nightmare.

    And, yes, I am seriously asking. About the site, not the weblog. I NEED help with the site. I’m checking out the recommended themes for the weblog—and thank you all for your recommendations.

  • Charlene Teglia Nov 20, 2008 @ 10:53

    I ditched WordPress for Drupal. Oh happy day! Drupal is clean, easy to modify, and all my existing stuff ported over without a whimper. Lots of templates to pick from that are clean and professional, too.

  • Liz Nov 20, 2008 @ 2:50

    I’m pretty good with wordpress themes. If you have a rough idea of what you’d like, I wouldn’t mind giving it a go, pro bono.

  • djmills Nov 20, 2008 @ 0:28

    This theme is crisp, clean, easy to read and not busy like the one yesterday. Very nice. Also, the login link is now back under the comments which made it easy to find. Looks very good.

  • jessiegirl21 Nov 19, 2008 @ 22:19

    you should check out diythemes.com – the theme Thesis is beautiful, functional and very well designed with lots of support and options.

  • chk Nov 19, 2008 @ 19:42

    Take a look at http://www.controlledflight.ca/; it uses the “Very Plaintext” theme, which I’ve grown to like.

    I rolled my own, but that was so long ago my layout pre-dates themes :-).

  • Maryse Nov 19, 2008 @ 19:01

    Oh! I feel your pain… I recently redesigned my own website, and it was long and tedious. I studied in graphic design, but I no longer work in the field (I hated dealing with annoying clients). But i can reassure you: NOT all webdesigners want to put flash on your website. Good one just want your site to be clean and functional, but still have a touch of personality (fast and easy to navigate doesn’t have to mean boring).

    I strongly recommend you to post an ad on this board: http://jobs.freelanceswitch.com/.
    Be specific about what you want (clean, no clutter, etc.), and don’t say yes until you think you have found someone who really understand your needs. You both have to “click”.

    For the type of website you have (website + blog), I strongly recommend you to use a Premium Wordpress theme. That’s a theme that can do about everything. There’s some free one, and some you have to pay to use and customize. Usually, paying themes comes with support. And keep in mind: if you don’t like the color or the style of a theme, everything can be ripped off! I use a theme on my website that is really hard to recognize now that I’ve change everything. You only need to look for a good structure.

    Sorry for my rambling. I hope I make sense (english is not my first language). Good luck!

  • PolarBear Nov 19, 2008 @ 18:36

    klcthebookworm is right. In fact, I imagine you have several regular readers who would be happy to compete for the job. Spend a little spare time (when you’re taking a break from writing a lesson, maybe) and put together your requirements. Mull them over, rework them, and, when you’re ready, post them and take proposals with a deadline. Evaluate what you get — caveat that if nothing seems like it fits, you reserve the right to not contract for the job. You’re not out anything but you might find just what you’re looking for.

  • klcthebookworm Nov 19, 2008 @ 17:35

    There’s no reason why your fears should come true if you hire a web designer. Tell them no flash. Have them build up the site offline and nothing goes live until you approve it (which helps cut down on information from vanishing or links going screwy). Nothing a hundred percent on these crazy Interwebs, but if you hire someone competent, they will want to earn a paycheck and put out a design they can proudly direct other customers to checkout.

    It might be more useful to look at it as you are the website’s editor instead of I’m the poor sap they’re going to suck all hard earned money from.

    But then what do I know. I liked playing with all the hidden hot links on J.K. Rowlings site. It’s not what I would pick for my own personal site, but with a fast connection, I thought it made a pretty nifty visual on the Harry Potter world. (And given how numerous her fans are she may just need the space, just a little.)

    I’m trying to be helpful, and I think all I’m accomplishing is coming across a little snarky. You would be hiring a freelancer, so vet them. Ask for credentials, ask for examples, ask for payment details. Tell all of your candidates your criteria upfront (no flash, I’m limited to this much bandwidth a month, etc.) Real freelancers that design for a living won’t be upset by this process.

  • lynd Nov 19, 2008 @ 16:16

    If it helps, this theme is better…

  • hollylisle Nov 19, 2008 @ 15:01

    Yeah. I need to hire someone to do it for me this time. I’m tired. I am so damned tired of websites and HTML, so in need of letting someone else sweat the SEO stuff, so exhausted trying to figure out how to get the front page GOOD so that people coming to the site can find all the stuff inside that I KNOW is good. But I’m terrified of the cost. I’m terrified of someone else coming in, breaking all the links from other sites to mine, trying to push flash or an image-heavy site or some other bandwidth-hogging ridiculous crap that would leave me broke from the design and back to using my own stuff anyway because splash pages and flash sites and massive image use just gets between the reader and the writer. You wanna see a site the designer should be shot for perpetrating on the world? Look up JK Rowling’s official site.

    I looked at other author sites today because I wanted some ideas, and the only idea I got was that there are no good designs for author sites.

    And the writing is not going well either.

    Today sucks.

  • TinaK Nov 19, 2008 @ 14:47

    Hey! I like this theme much better actually. I’m not so into ‘shiny’ themes. The comments are much easier to read. Site redesign in a pain in the ass but every now and again it simply needs to be done.

  • coraa Nov 19, 2008 @ 13:36

    For what it’s worth, this is still beautiful and clean and now I can read the comments without trouble. πŸ™‚

    Thank you for your hard work.

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