I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time. An embarrassingly long time. But, it was time to get rid of my old theme which was based on 3K2 and hadn’t been updated in years. While I loved the design provided by my friend Ilker Yoldas of The Thinking Blog, the theme itself was getting too old and slow and just felt cluttered. Time to simplify.
It was a little intimidating at first because I had customized the theme quite a bit to tweak it the way I wanted it to look. I was also worried about losing the cool design elements that Ilker created. Ultimately, I kept the header image and did just a little customization of the Twenty Ten Theme that comes with WordPress.
I got a lot of great info on modifying this theme from an awesome post from Throwing a Brick: Customizing the WordPress Twenty Ten Theme. It told me exactly what to do to make this theme a lot more appealing. There are more posts in the series on customizing this theme and I’m planning on exploring them more deeply over the next few weeks.
I also did some searching for how to make this blog load more quickly. I was worried about the experience of users coming to this blog for the first time and having to wait for it to load. I have never intended this blog to be about a bunch of bells and whistles, so all that crap is not important and only tends to get in the way of the content I’m writing.
I found an article about fast loading WordPress themes, and based on what I read there and most especially a comment pointing to this post about the relative speed of WordPress premium themes versus free ones, I chose Twenty Ten. I picked it mostly based on the speed and clean looks, but also because I didn’t want to spend a lot of time looking for a theme and I’m not ready to spring for a premium theme either.
Even after installing the new theme and tweaking it just a bit, I was still concerned about optimizing load times. So, I found this very useful post about how to make your blog load faster from Barry Wheeler. I’m still working through some of these tips, but I’ve already installed the W3 Total Cache plugin and noticed a big difference already. Be sure to check out Barry’s blog as there’s lots of other great information there.
I’m not done yet, but so far I’m pretty pleased with the results. I’m not looking to win a beauty contest here. My goal is to make the content the most important thing. I don’t want to spend a lot of time coding this site or tweaking old themes that aren’t actively supported any more. It was hard to let go of the old look, but it really came down to deciding what was really important about this blog and just letting go. Feel free to let me know what you think. I’d also really appreciate any other tips for improving the look and feel and speed of the page.