Why Changing Your Blog Theme can Change Your World
Last week I took the plunge and totally shook things up with my blog. I bought and installed a new WordPress theme and changed all of my branding. I did this because while I liked my old theme I was started to feel a bit restricted by it. I know looks aren’t everything (good job as I’m no supermodel!) but it had started to feel a bit clunky and it didn’t do things I wanted it to. The layout was fine but it wasn’t slick, there were some features I couldn’t change without mastering how to code in CSS and it just didn’t look, well, as good as I wanted it to.
Once I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about something I tend to fixate on it until I do whatever it is I’m obsessing over, so I just skipped to the end, found a theme I LOVED and piled in. And do you know what, I’m so glad I did.
Here’s why you should change things up if you feel like your blog theme just isn’t working for you anymore.
A New Theme = A New Start
I’m not saying your existing content will suddenly get 1,000 hits a second as a result of your new look (although I’m sure that must happen for some big websites) but a new theme, one that looks and feels how you want it, could help open you up to some new ideas. I had hit a bit of a creative roadblock using my old theme but since making the switch I’ve had ideas for a couple of brand new regular features which I’m really excited about. I’ve also hit upon an idea to take my Etsy shop in a whole new direction – I’ve got to say this is a lot to do with my site looking more ‘me’ and professional. It’s true what they say: A change is as good as a rest.
Take a Holistic View
I realised while in the middle of changing all of my headers/cover pages and branding across social media and my shop, that the old branding wasn’t as consistent as I thought it was. An old header version here, an out-dated tagline there. Take the chance to get your new look consistent everywhere you appear online and get it right from the start.
Sort out a Naming Convention for your pictures – and USE IT!
While you’re making a new start, it’s also a great time to set yourself a new naming convention. After installing my new theme I decided to make my pictures ‘pinnable’ to Pinterest as it’s something that was severely lacking before (and I know if your pictures are pinned, the word about your blog will spread). I realised I hadn’t been naming my photos with anything search engine friendly AT ALL, just leaving them called image1.jpg. This isn’t great, as search engines won’t find them and when the image is pinned the text description will say ‘image1’ and not anything remotely searchable.
I’m not saying to go through all of your old pictures and rename them (but do if you have time!) but start a naming convention and stick with it. Now I always include a short description of what the picture is in the Title and Alternative Text field and suffix it with ‘- Beak Up Crafts’ so it’s obvious where the photo originated from. Much better.
Things to be wary of:
Be prepared to have things looking a bit messy for a while as you sort things out with your new theme. You might want to consider putting up a static front page for a day or two to tease your new-look site while you get busy behind the scenes.
Changing my blog theme threw my formatting out as columns didn’t work anymore and anywhere I had added a line to break up content just said [line] – not quite what I wanted!
I would recommend you set some time aside to go through your most popular and most recent posts to start off with and make sure your formatting is all fine. And while you’re there…
This is something else you should consider when changing your blog theme. I found that when I made the switch my photos weren’t wide enough to fit the screen. This is because the blog post width had increased and it left my post looking a bit messy, with text wrapping here, there and everywhere. It look a bit of time to fix but I did so by either changing the size of my pictures from ‘Large’ to ‘Full Size’, or as a workaround, to giving them a central alignment. How your photos look is again something I would advise you check out on at least your most popular and recent posts.
If you’re using WordPress.org, changing your theme could also be a great time to go through your plugins and work out which ones you don’t need anymore while also adding some new ones.
Here are some plugins I use and love:
- Frizzly – To add Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook sharing buttons when you hover over your images
- Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin – to make your blog search engine friendly
- WP Super Cache – to cache your site and make pages load much quicker
- Jetpack – To add a load of features, including subscription boxes and sharing options
- Ninja Forms – Versatile and customisable contact forms for static pages and blog posts
Top Tips for finding a kick-arse blog theme:
- Find some sites whose look and layout you love and plug their URLs into What WordPress Theme is that? Hey presto, unless it’s a site whose design is written from scratch or heavily customised you can find out what theme they’re using and go and check out the designer/get the theme for yourself.
- Have a look on Etsy. There are so many talented people on there. I found 17th Avenue Designs there and fell in love with one of their themes but there are lots of others too. (In case you’re wondering, my old theme was the Isabelle theme by Blu Chic.)
- Use Pinterest to gather ideas of colour palettes and fonts that you like. If you’re going down the route of having a new theme designed just for you this will be invaluable when talking to your designer.
So what do you think? Are you tempted to take the plunge and go for a new blog theme? I hope this post hasn’t put you off as it can really revitalise your site and I really do thing that finding the right look and feel for you is worth a bit of effort.
Also, I hope you found my tips and tricks helpful. If you would love to see more content like this every so often please let me know!
Lots of bright new theme love,
(Disclaimer: I’ve written this from a self-hosted WordPress.org point of view as that’s what my blog is, but a lot of points still stand for WordPress.com, Blogger and Typepad too.)