Simpla Way: Theme

SimplaWayThis is the first in a short series of posts about my “moving in” to WordPress.com as my main blogging home. In particular, the series focuses on the current theme of Changing Way.

I’ll start by noting why I moved here from Weblogs.us, where the parent of this blog still lives. I didn’t import the old content into this blog because it is my experience that moving or converting data usually gives rise to weirdness, and I’d rather spend the time on things other than coping with such weirdness. The experience in question is with data and software in general, rather than with WordPress in particular, by the way.

Here are the main reasons I moved to WordPress.com:

  • Everything is taken care of: upgrades, backups, security, etc
  • Your blog is on dozens of servers, so it’s highly unlikely it will go down due to traffic

I quote those reasons from the FAQ comparing WordPress.com with WordPress classic (as I tend to call WordPress.org). The main reason against moving to WordPress.com is that you have less control over your blog.

Having decided to move to WordPress.com, I needed to find a theme for the new Changing Way. A WordPress theme is “a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog.” That definition is from the WordPress Codex page on Using Themes. From it, you can find a list of lists of themes: the WordPress community has published about a thousand themes.

My criteria for a theme were as follows:

  • Available on WordPress.com. Not all the thousand themes are available there. That may be a mercy.
  • Simple and clean, partly because that helps as a starting point for customization, and partly because I wanted to end up with a simple and clean theme.
  • One sidebar, on the right. This makes content prominent relative to sidebar stuff.
  • Widgetizable. That non-word may be as superfluous as it is ugly. I think that all the WordPress.com themes support sidebar widgets.

Simpla meets all of those criteria. In fact, it exceeds the second by a rather large margin; it goes beyond simple and clean and all the way to elegant. Link-outs to the designer, Phu Ly, the Simpla page, and the blog post announcing the theme. As you can see from the comments on the latter, I am far from alone in admiring and using this theme.

I was thinking of using Sandbox, the “theme for themers.” But I like Simpla so much, and feel so pressed for time, that I’ll probably stick with Simpla for the rest of 2007 and beyond.

The next two posts in the series focus on features of WordPress.com that allow some limited control over blog themes: custom CSS and sidebar widgets.

Creative Commons

CCI just added a Creative Commons license to the sidebar, and hence to the content, of this blog. It was tougher than it should have been.

Creative Commons provides a guide to licensing your work, and the guide includes code generation. The WordPress.com FAQ on Creative Commons gives instructions about stripping out some of the code generated. Even so, it took me longer than it should have to get the linked image into a sidebar text widget, since WordPress.com kept on taking a dislike to the code and stripping out some of it.

There is a Creative Commons widget for WordPress. Nathan Yergler, who wrote the widget, also wrote the following:

Now if only WordPress.com would support WpLicense for their hosted blogs, even more happy WordPress users could be happy contributors to the Commons.

My thanks and support go to Nathan.

Here Be Themes

One of the things I gave up in moving from WordPress classic to WordPress.com is theme editing. My previous blog had its own theme, or rather, user-switchable family of themes.

I’ve started off here with the Simpla theme. I’ve customized the CSS a little; for example, I’ve floated images at the right of posts. I’ve used widgets to build a different sidebar.

Lovely though Simpla is, I think I’ll be using a certain different theme before too long. The Sandbox is a theme for themers.

Org-anized Already

Changing Way is now org-anized, in that my main blog is now at changingway.org, which points to changingway.wordpress.com. I don’t plan to move the content from changingway.net, or from any other blogs, to this new blog. That seems simplest, at least for me, and I’ll try to make it as simple as I can for others also.