Well… I spent a good chunk of the day scoping out WordPress themes to no avail. I’ve seen so many Close But No Cigar layouts that it’s depressing. What I want to do isn’t elaborate at all:
1. A spare-looking theme that doesn’t have a lot of distractions.
2. A narrow, customizable header.
3. A reasonably eye-catching RSS button.
4. Posts that can display images with something approaching style and simplicity.
5. A sidebar with the usual controls for the widgets. These sidebar items (Archives, Blogroll, etc.) can go in the footer, too, as long as I can control what goes in it.
6. AdSense-ready. Widget-ready. Plug-in ready.
7. Room for whatever pages I might like to add.
8. A font that isn’t fancy. Preferably sans-serif.
9. It can be a one-column theme, a two-column theme, and even a three-column theme, as long as it grabs me with some kind of mysterious appeal. It could even be one of those themes with the toggle switch to control the number of columns. That could give a blog meister a real sense of control over things.
And that’s it. You’d think there’d be scads of themes like this. Lots and lots of themes have most of these features. But I haven’t found one that has all of them.
Consider Cityscape, for example. It’s close to what I want. I hate the headline font, for starters (why doesn’t it match the font of the body of the post? Theme after theme, including the one I’m currently using, gets this basic rule of design wrong. Why?). And I could do without the black rectangles on the sides of the header. But the header is customizable, and AdSense seems to play well with it, at least in my experiments. But the RSS buttons vanish, for some reason, when I make any adjustments to the sidebar at all. Grrr!
Then there’s Nashita, which has a really clean and spare look that I admire. It’s designed for image display and really stays out of the way of the picture, which is what a theme designed for images should do. But it does not have a customizable header, and there is no room for any widget stuff of any kind, not even in the footer. And it only allows you to display one post at a time — there seems to be no way to adjust for the display of multiple postings. The RSS feed button might as well be invisible as well, and worst of all, the comments only appear in a pop-up window. Blech. I could do a LOT with this theme if only it afforded some greater control over its features.
Really, what I’d like is a theme with the look and feel of Nashita, but which allows for some kind of header of my own design, along with the features listed above. A mash-up of CityScape and Nashita might be just what I’m looking for. I don’t think I’m asking for the moon here, and it may well be that I just haven’t looked hard enough.
Or maybe it just doesn’t exist yet. It may be that I’ll just have to suck it up and learn enough CSS and HTML to design it myself. But that could take many months at the rate I’m going.
Is my ideal theme already out there? Can anyone offer a suggestion?
Other close examples:
If Dooce had a header about a third the size of what is has and a less distracting sidebar, I could live with that sort of design until I figured out how to build something I liked better.
Good old’ StrangeMaps, hosted on the WordPress.com site itself is also darn close. There’s no customizable header, obviously, and you’d have to deal with all the reductions that come with not hosting the blog yourself, but this is a decent, functional design that gets the job done. I could run with this look a long time until I got my own design skills up to standard.
Anybody else have Tales of Theme-Hunting Heartbreak to share? And have I overlooked something obvious? I would appreciate any suggestions from any of the cognoscenti who might be passing through…
And one final question: Is there a rule that says that virtually every default header picture has to look like it came out of a Pottery Barn catalog?