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Changing WordPress Themes

Time for a Change?

Changing WordPress themes has been on my “to-do” list for a few weeks now, but I didn’t have a spare day to allocate to it. So I decided to devote one of the holiday days to giving my site a facelift, and just in time for 2015, here is the new look.JoyHealey-old

On the left is what my blog used to look like (courtesy of WayBackMachine.org) and what you see now is the result of my change.

Why Did I Change?

The main reason was that my earlier theme “said” it was responsive (displays correctly on a mobile device), but when I checked the mobile view on Matt Kersley’s Response Checker, and on my phone, it looked awful. Check your own – I was surprised!

Thanks to Tim Bonner for introducing me to Matt’s resource, and spelling out the problems of not having a mobile friendly site.

So for instance Tim says….

If you don’t provide your mobile visitors with a good experience though, Google will demote you in the rankings. Thanks Google…

The second enhancement I wanted was to be able to see snippets of several posts and one standard sized image on the home page, rather than just one long post. I know that “More” would have sorted it – but I kept forgetting to do it, and on some themes I’ve tried, the images varied or were absent from the “preview”.

I also had one or two other little irritations with my earlier theme – the links didn’t show up well enough and every so often there was some other glitch that took a while to fix, and it was – apparently – no longer supported.

But overall I was quite fond of it, and had it not been for the responsive issue I doubt I would have bothered to make the move.

Improvements From The New Theme

The new theme is from InkThemes and it came as a bonus when I purchased a copyright free image finder from Enstine Muki. I haven’t got round to using that yet, because this “responsive site” issue was upper-most in my mind. However, if Enstine recommends it, I’m sure it will be good.

  • The most important theme “gain” to me was the responsive issue. With the previous theme, the user needed to scroll horizontally on some mobile devices, which is “not good”. Now, “vertical scrolling” is all that’s needed.
  • Now when I display JoyHealey.com – as opposed to an individual post – I see an image and the first few words of several posts, rather than the whole of one post. There’s also the option to display a home page with sliding images, but for the moment I prefer the range of posts. Showing several post previews was something I had wanted to do for a long time, but it eluded me with the original theme.
  • My links are now blue (rather than pale pink) so they stand out better,
  • More footer widgets, which hadn’t been a worry for me.
  • Because it’s a premium (paid for) theme I also get support and a user forum. Haven’t tried these yet, but they might give me chance to feed back some of the issues I’m feeling I’ve lost.

Changes Not To Do With The New Theme

The Table of Contents Box at the top is nothing to do with the theme – it’s a free WordPress plugin by Michael Tran. I’d seen it used in other posts and quite liked the idea. It’s more useful for longer posts than this one, and it has applied itself retrospectively with no issues that I’ve noticed. The plugin also produces “human” site maps, but I preferred my existing site map, so didn’t change that.

Likewise some of the new widgets (tabbed and optin box) came from the Instabuilder plugin. Rather irritatingly at the moment the optin text is right-justified and I can’t see why! (Update: Thanks to Harleena and Vinay for patiently walking me through fixing this problem, as you’ll see in the comments!)

What Have I Lost?

JH-purple JH-pinkThe most obvious thing that has changed is a lack of “pinkness”. Some may say the earlier site was “too pink”. Perhaps it was ๐Ÿ™‚ but it was “my pink” and I liked it. However I noticed other sites going for a cleaner “look and feel”.

To get more pink I could easily change the colour scheme with the new site, the most obvious manifestation of it being the horizontal bar under the header, but there are only 11 colors to choose between and “my” pink isn’t one of them!

The closest alternatives would be purple (on top) or “their” pink (under the purple), but they’re both a bit vivid for my liking. So I stuck with blue, as you can see from the bar at the top.

Anyway – looking closely – the clickable links seem to match the color of the horizontal bar, so if I went back to the original pink it seems I’d be back to pink links, which were too faint to see, when I want blue links!

I think the blue has grown on me, because it still matches my header ๐Ÿ™‚

In one sense it’s a fuss and flap over “nothing”, but if potential clients can’t find the link to click…..

Another thing I’ve lost is the bigger selection of social media “follow me” links I had before. Now there is just Facebook, Twitter and RSS (plus some I don’t use, like Yahoo) at the very bottom of the site vs “more” on the original site – including Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn. I found a plugin to put some of the others in – but it didn’t include LinkedIn and I was trying to remove plugins, not add them ๐Ÿ™

I also lost a menu – the original theme supported two menus, this one only has one, but as they can be nested I don’t mind. I WAS feeling that I was making too much of the Cookies, Privacy and Compensation Disclosure pages. Now they’re all in one place.

Verdict?

Changing WordPress themes didn’t turn out to be as easy as I’d expected – because I took for granted that the new theme would have certain features that seemed pretty basic. And It came as a surprise that they weren’t there.

However, given that I have this premium theme (Bizway Pro) as a “free bonus” and it’s responsive (until some clever reader tells me it’s not) I’m happy over all, despite my few complaints above.

It’s fixed my three major complaints about the old theme, so I’ll run with it for a while.The cost wasn’t actually the issue, and I had my eye on a more expensive one until this dropped “free” into my inbox. I wanted my major complaints fixed at all costs, and now they have been.

I know there are themes that would give me more control, but I’m not looking for “complicated”. For instance I tried Genesis with a child theme once but never got to grips with it and just threw it away in the end. This theme was simple enough to learn and I made all the changes within the time I had allowed myself (plus a few tweaks from friends who helped out with bits I couldn’t figure out myself!)

Hope you think the new look is a step in the right direction, rather than a step backwards. If you see any essential feature missing, please let me know in the comments below. It’s easy to get “too close” to your work, and nothing is yet cast in stone….

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

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Joy
 

I left it too late to plan for a financially secure retirement. Don't make my mistake. Start building an extra income with a part-time (or full-time) business online. Think you don't have time? Can't afford the start-up cost? Can't meet sales targets? The businesses I promote overcome all the problems you may have had with Internet Marketing before. Contact me for free advice (no obligation) on the best fit for your circumstances.

Nathan Ambrose - December 28, 2014

Hi Joy.

I think your website looks nice. It’s clean and responsive. It’s also simple and without clutter.

Because of these things, it will provide what is most important to your readers – an easy experience. So well done.

Nathan.

    Joy Healey - December 29, 2014

    Hi Nathan

    Thanks for looking at my blog’s “facelift”. Glad you think it’s looking cleaner.

    I looked at yours (which is great) we’re both in London – that’s almost neighbours in the blogosphere!

    Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Joy

Harleena Singh - December 29, 2014

Hi Joy,

Congratulations indeed ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s great that you changed to a responsive WordPress theme. I’d agree with Tim that a responsive theme is the necessity of present times. I get about 50% of my blog traffic from mobiles and tablets and I know this is going to increase with time. So, kudos for taking this smart step!

Your homepage definitely looks better and that reminds me of the previous Genesis WordPress theme on my blog. I too have an option of having a slider on the home page, which I did use initially, but removed it because a slider increases the load time and isn’t really that effective or useful. So, I think you’ve taken the right decision.

You might want to fix the “Table of Contents Box” link in this post. I guess by the TOC box you mean the top menu bar. Well, a human sitemap is a good thing to have too, which I had been thinking of having on my blog too. Many of the features you have mentioned came bundled with my ThemeForest theme.

Okay, I asked Vinay and he has a cure for your right-justified optin text. If you use the Chrome browser, take your mouse over the optin text, right click it, and choose “Inspect Element” at the bottom. A new window opens in the bottom frame, and it has a column on the right side. There you will see the text “.sidebar p {text-align: right;}. When you move your mouse over the words “text-align”, you will see a “tick box”. Untick it. Your optin box becomes centered. You can also see the particular CSS file, where you need to make this particular change to the text-align CSS property. You can do that yourself, or ask you web developer to do it for you. (Hope this helps!)

Your site does look cleaner. I too have pink on my blog too, but I guess that is balanced with the white space all around. But if you really want to have your pink, you can change the CSS property of your theme. You’ve so many plugins for social media follow buttons, I use a premium one for mine presently. My present theme has 3 menus, but you can even do with one, that hardly matters.

If you got this premium theme for free and it solved your major complaints, then I think you should be happy with it. I think this is a very good move you made, of course, in the right and forward direction. And, its always better to have a theme that you can yourself manage rather than being dependent on others.

Thanks for this update, and we’d meet later next year now. I wish you a great and successful New Year ahead. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Joy Healey - December 29, 2014

    Hi Harleena,

    Thanks for taking so long to look at my site – I really appreciate your help, and Vinay’s.

    Unfortunately – although I got as far as making the left align work while I was on the page, I didn’t see what to do to “save” it, so next time I view a post it reverts back to the right align. I’ve never really looked at anything like this before LOL. I don’t have a web developer I’m afraid. Partly cost and partly I like to learn things myself so I’m not dependent. But when it comes to something like this – whew…. Perhaps I need to edit one of the files inside WordPress. I’ll investigate that, but brain power all used up for this morning!! I WILL come back to it – because it will bug me every time I look at it!

    Since writing the post I’ve found myself a plugin for the social media follow buttons (Social Media Widget by Acurax). I quite liked the little Twitter bird! Yes, it’s a shame that’s not bundled in the theme.

    Glad you agree with my decision to remove the slider, and my site seems “faster” today! Perhaps the PC was doing some background scan or something.

    Hmmm – now what have I not spotted that needs fixing on my โ€œTable of Contents Boxโ€? It always takes someone else’s eyes to spot something I’ve missed LOL.

    Thanks very much for taking so long to look at my site (especially in the holiday period!) I really appreciate it.

    We’ll certainly catch up again in the New Year.

    Joy

      Harleena Singh - December 30, 2014

      Hi Joy,

      You’d need to make changes in the style.css file of your theme for changing the alignment, and I think you need to fix the link to the TOC box in this post. Just my two cents ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks once again, and Happy Holidays ๐Ÿ™‚

        Joy Healey - December 30, 2014

        Hi Harleena

        Thanks, I found the style.css file and managed to get the alignment fixed now – phew!

        So that’s something new I learned to do right at the end of 2014.

        Thanks for helping me with that (and to Vinay) – it was really annoying me!

        Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Joy

James McAllister - December 29, 2014

Hi Joy!

New theme is looking good. I never noticed your theme wasn’t mobile responsive before but it’s certainly going to be an important ranking factor from here on out so I’m glad you got that issue sorted.

Sorry to hear you didn’t click with Genesis. I’ve always been a huge fan because it’s so lightweight and easy to work with, but I suppose it’s not for everybody. I may be changing my child theme in the not-so-distant future because I’m kind of unsatisfied with the ‘plain’ look of my site right now. Although I have someone working on a logo now so maybe I can make-do with my current theme โ€“ time will tell.

Anyway just wanted to chime in and say that I’m liking the new theme, and I’m glad to hear you are as well.

– James

    Joy Healey - December 29, 2014

    Hi James,

    Glad you like the look of my new theme. It was annoying me as I originally chose it because it professed to be responsive, but when I read Tim’s post and the tests that Google applied I could see why it still failed on several important points.

    In fairness to Genesis, it was a LOOOONG time ago in my blogging career, so perhaps I might do better now, but I just remember that everytime I wanted to change anything it was a drama LOL.

    I think your site looks great – and thanks once again for your super review of my new eBook ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Joy

Enstine Muki - December 29, 2014

Hi Joy,

This is great new look for the new year ;). I love the blue colors and the way BroadedNet widget shows on the sidebar.

Yes it’s responsive and that’s a big positive point. I didn’t know your former theme wasn’t ;). You certainly are going to see some traffic improvement especially from mobile readers.

Thanks for the shout out. It was a beautiful bonus for grabbing another excellent image plugin.

I’ll be replying to your mail shortly ๐Ÿ˜‰

Do have a wonderful New Year 2015 ahead my good friend

    Joy Healey - December 29, 2014

    Hi Enstine,

    Glad you think the new look is an improvement. I really owe the changes to what I read in Tim’s post as I didn’t realise the former theme wasn’t “properly” responsive either!

    I thought you’d like to see what I did with the bonus I got via your image plugin offer. It was great value and I haven’t even started playing with the product I actually purchased.

    So – another job (almost) off the list – still got one or two technical issues with the optin box that are beyond my brain power at the moment. Always something new to learn about.

    You have a great New Year too ๐Ÿ™‚

    Joy

Jan Kearney - December 29, 2014

Very nice Joy.

If you want “your” pink – create a quick child theme (sounds more complicated than it actually is!) and change the css to “your” pink.

Love the TOC box – I’ll be looking at that plugin too once i’ve sorted my site out. I’m having a clean-up and bit of a fiddle with design too lol Must be that time of year!

Happy New Year ๐Ÿ™‚

    Joy Healey - December 30, 2014

    Thanks Jan, glad you think it looks good.

    > Create a quick child theme
    Hysterical laughter breaks out ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m afraid “child themes” went completely over my head as in why / how / what and probably all sorts of questions I don’t even know how to ask!

    Hmmm – I remember some kind person not a million miles from here asking for questions for blog posts….. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    I saw the TOC box somewhere else and “just had to have one”!

    Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Joy

Mialei - December 29, 2014

I had similar problems when I switched themes not long ago. I was surprised to find that many of the features do not align with any other theme. The information existed behind the scenes but not on my site. I applaud you for jumping out there. This theme has a nice, clean appearance without feeling sparse.

I will keep this post in mind the next time I have to make a change. Also, I have to take a look at my mobile to figure out if mine is even legible from a device. Great reminder to consider the millions of potential visitors who never touch a keyboard.

Always learn so much from you, Joy!

Happy New Year!

    Joy Healey - December 30, 2014

    Hi Mialei

    Glad you like it. Yes, it was yet another lesson to learn because I had assumed the new theme would have the same features – but never mind, it’s fixed my main two problems and the social icons was easy enough to fix.

    Did you check if your blog is responsive? Just use the link in my post (Matt Kersley) and Tim Bonner’s post is well worth a read – it’s what scared me into making this change LOL.

    Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Joy

Sandy - December 30, 2014

You blog looks crisp and clean, Joy. I am accessing via mobile now and it looks good.

Like the table of content box. I have asked a friend before regatding such ‘linking’ feature (like how FAQ works) before and was told it’s called ‘anchor’. Didn’t get around to try doing it via coding. Guess it’s more convenient with plugin now!

Wishing you great success and breakthroughs in the coming year. To your Abundance, Sandy ๐Ÿ™‚

    Joy Healey - December 30, 2014

    Hi Sandy

    Thanks, and glad you like it. I normally just use the linking feature (chain on post editor toolbar) in WordPress to link internally or externally, but something like the TOC would be way beyond me so I was more than pleased to see the plugin.

    Every success to you and your family too for 2015 and beyond.

    Have a Happy and Abundant New Year, Joy

      rahul - March 17, 2015

      Hello there joy.

      I think your site looks pleasant. It’s clean and responsive. It’s additionally basic and without disorder.

      As a result of these things, it will give what is most essential to your perusers โ€“ a simple experience. So well done.

      Rahul.

        Joy - March 17, 2015

        Hi Rahul

        Thanks for your kind comments about my revised site layout.

        I was feeling the old one had become too cluttered, which was why I did the “revamp”, so I’m pleased you find it a simple experience to navigate.

        Joy

Edward Thorpe - December 30, 2014

Hi Joy,

As I’m kinda a nut for less is more, I’m really digging your new theme. (Not that I thought your old one was too busy ๐Ÿ˜‰

I like my present responsive theme. Yet, I’m making a fairly short list of things it’s lacking and plan to ask the developer to custom one up for me.

Wishing you a Happy & successful New Year!
Edward

    Joy Healey - December 30, 2014

    Hi Edward

    Glad you like it – I had noticed many people go more minimalistic so decided to follow suit and mostly pleased with the result.
    Just a few things still to fix…. wish I had a developer – it’s just me struggling through it all!

    Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Joy

Mustafa Gaziani - January 1, 2015

Hi Joy,

There would be no doubt, that google loves responsive themes. But there is no such story about google that proves Google will demote you in search ranking just because your theme is not responsive, as tim said.
However, many of the free themes have not much successful just because of lack of responsiveness and lack of security.
Just saw your new theme and it looks amazing. Can you have any idea to create wordpress theme by own self? I’m a web developer. I have created several Html templates but I don’t know how can I use these on wordpress.

By the way Happy new year to you! May this year will be good for every aspect of life ๐Ÿ™‚

    Joy Healey - January 2, 2015

    Hi Mustafa

    Well, the source Tim was quoting was: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-mobile-site-demotion-16916.html (as linked in the post)
    Who really knows that goes on with Google – but it was enough to galvanize me into an action I would have taken anyway – just because!

    Glad you like my new theme. I’m afraid creating them myself is WAY beyond my level of competency (or interest) to be honest.

    Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Joy

Carol Amato - January 1, 2015

Hi,Joy!

Congrats on the new look/theme – your site looks fabulous! ๐Ÿ™‚ I like it much better and seems easier to navigate too.

You are spot on for putting a lot of emphasis on the necessity of a site being mobile responsive – oh so important! I outsourced this last year. Now, Iโ€™ve switched themes last month, and itโ€™s even better.

Yep, good ole Google puts a lot of importance on it and rightly so. The percentage of folks accessing the Internet from mobile devices is growing each day at a staggering rate.

Yeah, color is really important and studies have shown that certain colors evoke certain emotions and specific reactions.

Your demographic target audience may change now that youโ€™ve taken away all the pink, to include more menโ€ฆWho knows. ๐Ÿ™‚

I really like how it looks because Iโ€™m a big fan of sleek with clean lines and blue is a fave of mine. May help conversions also.

Joy, youโ€™ve done an awesome job, and Iโ€™m wishing you every success in 2015!

Talk soon,
หœCarol

    Joy Healey - January 1, 2015

    Hi Carol,

    Thanks – I’m glad you like it. Last time you looked at it I was having a few problems with it – but happily I think I sorted them out now, so feeling happier about it now. I was a little unsure at first. but it’s grown on me – and other people seem to be liking it too.

    I had wondered about the earlier pinkiness. Although I liked it myself I did wonder if it was too pink for the fellas! It will be interesting to check in a month or so if there’s been any difference.

    So although the mobile issue was my most serious aim, I’m feeling overall I made some other good changes too.

    Yes, December was an exciting month, even if at times I never thought I’d get there.

    Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Joy

Atish Ranjan - January 4, 2015

Your blog Looks nice and it is responsive as well, Joy!

recently I too have few changes in my existing theme, As I know html/css, I have changed in my theme myself and made it responsive as well as more spacious.

Your blog is looking cool!

    Joy Healey - January 4, 2015

    Hi Atish

    Glad you like my new responsive theme. It took me a while to iron out the problems, but I’m pleased with the final result – and it did need to be done!

    I made my first tentative css change, thanks for help from Harleena, but I can’t say that’s a line I plan to go down LOL. Making that one fix was enough of a challenge to me. As it’s an area you’re good at you have my respect!

    Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year, Joy

Rachit - May 28, 2015

Its good that you changed according to mobiledegon.

You must be aware that wordpress is a database based system. What I am trying to say is, if you install back the previous theme wordpress would have saved the changes you made in that theme, because it remembers each and every change made in the tables. Over the time we use and change a lot of themes and this creates quite a lot of burden on the database tables.
So don’t forget to clear your tables options after you change your theme or delete a plugin you no longer use.
It is not suggested that you do it manually unless you are a developer. You can use a plugin like WP-SPring-Clean or hire a developer.

Anyways your theme looks good. Although in the comment section as I type the comment, the font is quite small. In the post too. If you prefer you can use arial 14px in body and comments, It’ll look awesome and classy.

Nice theme overall, Cheers

    Joy - May 29, 2015

    Hi Rachit,

    Glad you like my new-look blog.

    Thanks for the tips – especially the one about clearing the tables etc. I’ve only really become aware of the need to clear these recently, because I started using ManageWP, which shows the overhead so we can clean them.

    Joy

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