This topic will remind you, dear bored reader, that while this blog and I are devoted to bicycling, I’m still a geek / nerd at heart. Sometimes I gotta get in touch with my 1s and 0s. There ain’t one damned word about bicycling in this post.
Ever since the beginning of Al Gore’s little toy I’ve been a modest web designer. It’s actually my skills that are modest, not so much me. Until just a few years ago I coded everything by hand. I never used any kind of code generator or CMS (Content Management Service.) Every website I ever built I did it using . . . notepad.
Yep. I typed every single character on every single page of every website I designed. Then FTPd the files to a server. Set file permissions manually (in some cases). Was a true Unix administrator.
I’m too old for that shit any more. Hell, I’m getting too old for a lot of things. Let’s hope I don’t get too old . . .
This ain’t my first blog. (Or first cleaning lady.) I’ve used several different platforms over the years. Blogger was notoriously easy to update from the road. That came in handy in recording my bicycle rides when I was away from the computer.
I’ve tried Drupal and Joomla. Ghost scared me. (Nyuk nyuk.)
Somewhere along the line I gave WordPress a try. Wordpress had a lot more gadgets to play with than Blogger. It was far easier to use / get up and running then Drupal or Joomla. It had a very low learning curve.
Additionally, you could add zillions of different plugins and customize the heck out of it. The biggest selling point was the enormous number of different themes ready to rock and roll. If I tired of how a site looked, it was a quick theme change and, viola!, it was like a whole new site!
For this site I wanted something that was different than the last personal blog I author(ed):
For Fifty Shades of Ray I started using the theme Tracks:
A few weeks later I wanted more control over how the pages themselves looked. I changed to Blog Fever:
But neither of them were . . . it. You know how sometimes you know something just ain’t . . . I don’t know, right? Those two themes were that. Good, but not perfect.
If you Google “WordPress Themes,” you’d get slightly less results than if you searched for “boobs.”
I must have spent two days looking at hundreds of different themes / templates. I knew what I was looking for, but I didn’t know how to explain the esoteric qualities to Google.
I found two different sites that offered a subscription service. For not much more than the price of one theme, you could have access to all of their themes. The first was Elegant Themes $69 a year got you access to all of their themes, plus support. They offered a 30 day money-back guarantee so it seemed like a no-brainer.
I downloaded in the space of an hour nearly a dozen themes to try out. I was disappointed that their themes required significant modification to core WordPress theme files if you wanted them to work the way they were advertised. Plus, if you didn’t purchase their plug-ins (for another $20 per year), the themes were pretty much useless. Useless may be a little strong. How about, it’d be like buying a shiny new car where the salesman said, “Oh, did you want tires and an engine with that? That’ll be extra.”
“Support” was limited to posting a message in their theme forums. A support forum of a theme I particularly liked hadn’t been responded to by EG in at least two months. You couldn’t send them an email, there were no phone numbers. I finally had to send them one as a prospective customer. Told them my woes. And hey: let’s give that 30 day money back guarantee a workout, what say. [Edited: They came through with the refund. Good on ya, Elegant Themes, for sticking to your promise. Just because I didn’t like your stuff doesn’t mean someone else won’t. You get my thumbs up for your honest business practice.]
Because obviously I hadn’t learned my lesson . . .
I plunked down another $49 with TeslaThemes. Pretty much the same deal. A subscription service good for a year; access to all of their templates and support. Of the four themes I downloaded, two crashed WordPress completely. They wouldn’t even load. Two more required so many modifications that I wondered, “Why didn’t I just type all of this out on notepad?”
[Unlike Elegant Themes, TeslaThemes is calling me a liar about the themes crashing. Quote from their dispute response: “First, it can not be true, we have hundreds of downloads everyday and not a single crush.” Well, maybe they don’t have any crushes but they’re big on crashing. I invited Mr. English-Probably-Isn’t-His-First-Language to check out 50Shades. If what he sees is his theme, I’d be happy to pay him for it. If it’s not (and it’s not), give me back my fifty bucks.]
I stumbled across Envato Market and this gorgeous theme called JRNY from a company called MeanThemes. That’s what’s running currently as of this writing. It’s big. Bold. Responsive. (All that means is that it shows up well on PCs, tablets, and phones. It adjusts automatically for the screen where it’s displaying.) For now, I like it. A lot.