Welcome to the new look of mamchenkov.net! Before I tell you the long story, here is a customary front page screenshot (because, practice shows, it won’t look anything like that in a few days).
So, now for the long story. First of all, why, why the change? As always, for a number of reasons.
The simplest reason for the change of WordPress theme is – why not? It’s simple. And it’s free most of the time. And it’s new. There are thousands and thousands of high quality themes. These themes are designed by a lot of smart, innovative people all over the world. These people often have a totally different take on how a WordPress theme should be – from looks and styles, to functionality, features, and coding. So, changing your WordPress theme to something you’ve never tried before provides you not only with a new set of colors and font faces, but with a better understanding of what you need and like.
The second reason for the change is simple too. I just got bored with the previous styles (I had it for almost exactly two years). I wanted something different, something with a little bit of color (yes, I know that white, gray, and black are colors, but here I’m talking more about the rest of the color spectrum).
The third reason was an itch. I don’t remember if I mentioned it on this blog yet or not, but I surely discussed it with a few of you guys. Recently, I needed a collaboration tool for one of the teams that I am a part of. After giving mailing lists, forums, and wiki engines a quick look, I went for something that I wanted to try for a really long time – WordPress with P2 theme. I don’t remember when and where I’ve heard about it for the first time, but Matt’s blog post has been pinned to the side of my brain for at least a couple of years.
P2 theme is brilliant in a number of ways. But two of its features in particular I want everywhere I go since the first time I tried them: simplified new post form on the front page of the site (I’m still missing this one) and custom post types for links, quotes, and status updates. I’ve even seriously considered running P2 theme on this blog. And perhaps I would have, if only it was a bit better on the looks. As I mentioned many times before, I have no web designer in me.
Those features were just a minor itch, more of wishlist items until recently. A month or so ago, I reorganized my social networking interactions around the Social 2.5 plugin for WordPress. My blog now had a much better integration with Facebook, but that came at a price. Before the change, I usually tweeted my status updates and they were pushed to Facebook, as well as archived in the blog. But after the change I always had to choose where to post the status update – to Twitter, or to Facebook, or to both. And I don’t think I’ve ever posted the same status update to both, since I am too lazy. However, I still wanted the updates to be synchronized between the networks.
Hence a bigger itch for custom post types. I knew, if only I could have custom post types for status updates in my blog, then I could easily broadcast them from my blog into both Twitter and Facebook with the Social plugin. I’ve even read up on how to implement custom post types and even fiddled with the code a bit. But, as I said, I’m too lazy, and I never finish anyth
With a growing itch, and a great deal of personal laziness, I started to look around for a solution. Chances are, someone has already done all the work. I just needed to find who and where. And that’s when I realized another problem.
Most WordPress themes are designed and coded for the new sites. If you are starting a new WordPress based project, you are in luck – there are so many different themes that would suit you perfectly, no matter what kind of a project you are building – for home, non-profit, or an enterprise.
My blog, however, is not something new. I’ve been writing here for more than a decade. A lot of things happened over this period – software changed, plugins came and went, content has been reorganized a few times, and so on. There is not a single theme in existence that would support each and every change that has been made to how things run on this site. Usually, when I switch a theme, it takes me about a week to sort out all the major issues, fix most annoying bugs, and implement features I miss the most. And I’ve never ever even attempted to fix all things here – there’re just too many of them.
So, when things come to coding and fixing all those tiny little bits, most WordPress themes are too simplistic and “thin”. What’s needed is something they call WordPress theme framework. These usually separate all the code into chunks, and provide enough flexibility to work on some areas of the site, without the worry to brake the other.
My previous theme was Carrington Community, which is based on Carrington Core framework. It may be not how I would have done a framework if I was doing one, but it works, and, most importantly, I am quite used to it. I know my way around and I know how to do what I need to do. And it’s not something that I think about actively, but once I look at some non-Carrington Core code, I am immediately reminded of that. So …
Good things come to the people who wait, they say. So I’ve waited and waited for a solution to my problems, and today I found one. It’s in this blog post by Alex King, who is quite a celebrity in WordPress world, and who is one of the people behind all things Carrington. Alex announced the release of FavePersonal 1.1 theme for WordPress.
I haven’t heard of it before, so I went to check it out. And what a surprise! In essence, it’s the same old Carrington theme, but new and shiny, with more stuff in it, with more colors than you could ever use, with custom post types, and with integrated Social 2.5 plugin! It’s practically an ideal match for what I was looking for. And all that just for $69 USD + tax!
Without any hesitation I paid up, and was provided with the ZIP archive seconds later. After I’ve uploaded the theme to my server, I noticed that most of the things worked, and for those that didn’t, I either had a ready solution in the source of my previous theme, or could have one almost instantly.
Unlike some of my previous WordPress theme switches, this one is not too dramatic. Yes, the site looks somewhat different, and there are a few bits that weren’t there with the other theme, but the main ones are still there and work in the same way – header with the navigation menu, content area, and a sidebar on the right. A few minor things are still broken or missing – I’ll fix them up over the next few days and all will go back to normal. If you still notice some kind of misbehavior by the end of this week – please let me know.
As for the primary changes that this switch brings (except for the obvious looks), I have to list the following:
- There will be more posts to this blog. Now that I can publish everything here and push from here to the social networks, that’s exactly what I am going to do. Expect to see more links, quotes, images, videos, and status updates.
- The mobile interface. Previously, I’ve been using WPTouch plugin to provide a mobile version of the site. But not anymore. FavePersonal takes care of desktop, tablet, and mobile rendering, so I’ll use that for now. Unless there will be any major issues with that, that’s how it will stay.
- There will be more experiments. As it happened many times before – once I get an annoying problem out of the way, I usually get into creative and experimental mode. My freed up brain starts noticing other things that I want to try, and all of a sudden I’ll have the time to try them.
For those of you, who read through all of the above and survived it to here, I’ll tell a secret. Try WordPress’ full page editor when writing blog posts (it’s one of the last icons on your editor’s toolbar). It is so good, you won’t be able to stop the typing. That’s exactly how I wrote all of the above. Thanks for reading!