Old School Film Hack

Website update — new theme and reason why


Early yesterday — of all days — WordPress.com applied new code globally to their domain as a security fix.  For most people, it wasn’t bad or even noticed.  But for me, it pretty much signaled the end of using my old theme, Avid, because all the text content disappeared. The post titles remained, but the body copy vanished to all of my 800+ posts, across all browsers and operating systems.  Prior to uploading my daily post yesterday, I switched back to the Full Frame theme temporarily because I just didn’t have the time to deal with it.

Why did this happen?  Because I had added so much custom CSS code that was finicky to deal with and extremely sensitive to change.

One of the cautions noted by WordPress admins when making changes to themes is that custom CSS code may get broken when security fixes get applied by the WordPress.com system admins, which is exactly what happened with me.  I pay specifically for this service, as I don’t want the hassle of dealing with hosting maintenance and the like.

So…  That lesson has been learned on my part and I spent all last night coming up with a new theme that does everything that I want and DOESN’T need any CSS code customization in the process.  This theme — Opti — has several crucial features I’m looking for:

  • Comment numbers for each post are easily spotted at a glance on the front homepage, along with a decent image thumbnail (it’d be nice if it were bigger, but c’est la vie) and a snippet of text.  The comment numbering on the front page is one of the most requested functions by my readers, so they can keep current with comments made by others.
  • I can populate the front page with as much imagery as I like, the better to showcase my photography.
  • Once a post is selected, huge images are displayed on the individual pages, along with links to related articles.  Too many themes offered out there don’t support large images.
  • The body text is a good-sized serifed font that has a medium weight and is legible for eyes of all ages; there aren’t any jarring colors or design elements; the comments section is easy to use and doesn’t have any issues with background legibility.
  • Clear and easy navigation from all pages.
  • The mobile version is just as easy to read and use, a crucial aspect since so many people are accessing the site from tablets and smart phones these days.
  • Plus it has many other functions that readers like, such as access to other widgets from different pages, follow buttons for email and RSS feeds, easy access to other websites of interest (scroll to the bottom of the page), etc.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with it and hope you are as well.  Any comments or suggestions are appreciated.

UPDATE: I’ve been able to make my old theme — Avid — work correctly again, so I have gone back to it… hopefully for good.

6 thoughts on “Website update — new theme and reason why

  1. SimplySage

    I understand your dilemma. I searched and searched last year for a theme with features like this. After studying other blogs I liked, I chose Comet. I specifically wanted a serif font. I took a writing class and this font is the easiest on the eyes. I wish it could allow larger pictures but like you say, c’est la vie. I like it because it is somewhat artistic. And I like the side widget. I customized the colors. (worked hard on this!). I play around with others but haven’t found the one with “everything”.
    I like yours from the serif font and photography aspect. Very nice. For me, I would customize the background color and put a photo in the header if allowed. I may check it out and play around with mine using this theme.
    I enjoy your blog very much.
    Nicely done!


    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Comet is a nice template as well, and one that I considered last night. I’m with you on the serifed fonts; there’s a reason the major newspapers haven’t switched to sans-serif and that’s legibility, though some serifed fonts can be too heavy in the vertical axis and it makes them a bit harsh.

      On this template, the background color is also the background of the text, so I’ve adjusted it to a light gray to be easier on the eyes while reading from a bright computer screen. Only the header and footer can be customized for color, which I’ve already done.

      I just put in a photo header, but expect to play around with it in the coming days until I’m satisfied. It looks like I can upload a bunch of them and randomize the loading, so I’ll probably do that in the near future as well.

      Thanks you for your comments!


    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Thanks! It’s funny how we all obsess over these things, but — truly — the little things can make or break a website for some people. By the way, I like your site as well; it goes beautifully with your images.


  2. dafins1961

    I’m afraid that all this banter about theme features, and nuances …..Is like hearing a foreign language for the first time…For me! I can make you. 6 different kinds of baguettes with the same flour, but am just pleased with a nice clean, minimalistic look. Love this new theme…


    1. Mitch Zeissler Post author

      Ha! Love the breadmaking references.

      I’ve gone back to the theme I like the best — Avid. Instead of incorporating *all* the CSS customizations I had previously used, I’ve only applied some of them. Additionally, I’ve dumped the background imagery that I previously had because it was causing some of the issues.

      In any case, this seems to be the theme that most people like me using, so I’m glad to hear you like it as well.


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