Switching WordPress themes on Get On With It (Part 1)

gowi yinyang logo feature idea 3

It’s been a bit since I refreshed the design of the ‘ol blog and, as part of my amplify and reduce goals, I wanted to ensure I did it this month. Since I work with WordPress and this site is a super-simple blog site, the transition to a new theme should be pretty painless. Let’s see how it goes…

This is a weird post, I don’t know what you are talking about

I know, I’m not writing about productivity or space now. This is more about the type of work I do. Here is a quick summary if you are wondering…

This website runs on a content management system called WordPress. If you haven’t heard of it no worries, but at this point, it powers 43% of all websites in existence, so it’s pretty popular and you use it even if you don’t know you do.

WordPress makes creating and managing lots of posts and pages and other types of content on a website easy. The other thing it does is display all that content in a way that everyone is used to. You know, like all modern websites.

Now, all WordPress sites have a theme that determines what a site and its content looks and feels like. What the font looks like, where the menu is, the colors and spacing…all of these things are determined by the theme on a WordPress site.

There are thousands of themes available for WordPress and they can all be used to apply a new metaphorical coat of paint to your metaphorical house of content.

I am currently using the Twenty Twenty-Two theme, as shown here with example content:

Screenshot of the Twenty Twenty Two theme demo
Twenty Twenty-Two is what the site is using now (start of October)

OK, but why change themes?

I don’t NEED to change themes. There is no compelling reason to switch things up other than I consider it fun to do this type of work. Also I’m just kind of tired of the current state of things. Ok, I guess there is a bit of a compelling reason to switch for me professionally as it allows me to learn. There are quite a few interesting things being explored with new WordPress themes as well as new abilities for non-developers to edit all aspects of their site using a suite of tools the community calls “full site editing”.

For example, one of the themes I’m looking at, called Wei by Rich Tabor, has custom color accents that can be applied to each post.

Screenshots of Wei theme with different accent colors.
Applying different colors and duotone filters like this to different posts used to be hard, not anymore.

Surprisingly, having different posts look very different from each other (i.e. beyond just the content of the post) has not been that easy in the past. Typically things are meant to look uniform and consistency is enforced over customization. But now that is changing and WordPress is getting WAY more flexible without even needing fancy themes.

Sounds fine I guess, what are your requirements for a new theme then?

Hmm, I hadn’t thought about it before now but it’s good to have some sort of selection criteria I guess. Here is my first take:

  • Use a theme that takes advantage of the newest features of WordPress (i.e. full site editing and the block editor) – because new things are being released every 2 weeks and it’s good for my craft to stay on top of those changes
  • Use a theme that is “different enough” from my current theme both stylistically and technically – so I can see how some new things work in practice and because I’m tired of looking at the old design
  • Use a theme that is not made by the company I work with (Automattic) – just because it’s good to play outside your sandbox 😉 (but I’ll still continue to host my site on WordPress.com)

This sounds boring, isn’t it boring?

No, not at all!

I’m always interested to see how much breaks and/or what kinds of rework I need to do when I switch themes on WordPress as I help people do that every. day.

I’m looking forward to seeing if there are some unique block patterns that I can use for my “Hi Nick here” section on the homepage.

I’m curious how existing posts like the one on Notion look after the transition.

Also, what more might I be able to do?

Will the site performance be faster (or slower)?

Alright, this definitely sounds boring.

Calm down. It’s not a big deal. I’m going to change the design of the site. Sheesh.

When are you going to start?

Over the next day or two. Here are the two designs I’m going between. Maybe I’ll try both.

Here are some snapshots of the existing site and site performance scores before I transition.

I’ll document how things are going as the transition takes place. Off we go! 🚀

Comments welcome!

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