I’ve been looking around at a number of blogs lately, and those which have the most impact invariably use custom built templates. Some political blogs get away with being successful whilst having standard templates, but in recent “Battle of the Blogs” contests at Blog Explosion I have lost badly. I fail to see how I could be losing so consistently except due to aesthetic considerations – especially since the observant amongst you would see that I have already done some content based customisation. WordPress doesn’t have a calendar archive, a random joke in the footer, or recent posts in the sidebar in the default out of the box configuration.
One thing that I find a little disappointing is that the default theme (Kubrick) is actually quite nice, and therefore the work required to do something at least as pleasing is not trivial. I had hoped the content would be the main criterion of judgement; but without a unique design I think this is not going to hold true. Especially since I’m not a political blogger who could earn points by slamming the current US government. Indeed, perhaps my content is still the problem :-D.
So I’ve started work on a new template for this blog. I came across an excellent guide to help quick start my work, saving me a lot of time I would otherwise have lost in dissecting the themes structure myself. I only have limited time to work on this, so I don’t expect it will be live too quickly. Just the initial issues with CSS compatibility between IE and Mozilla/Firefox means that you have a couple of hours work to get the different blocks of content structured just right. The main threat is the CSS box model which requires hacks since IE places the padding and margin inside the defined width of a block element, whereas Firefox correctly places it outside. For example, a <div> of width 200px – including padding of 4px – will have to be set to width:192px in Firefox and width:200px in IE. Put another way, in Firefox the CSS width defines the width of the actual content, whereas IE takes the width to be the entire element’s width including padding and margins.
Your comments about the content of this blog and whether or not the redesign is important would be most appreciated. Feel free to post just a few words – any feedback is better than none at all.