I have been working on this theme mod for a bit and it is almost a whole month late in making its way here. I meant to release it for the New Year’s day but my day job kept me busy to complete the stuff I wanted done. So, instead here it is for your eyes today. If you are reading this in a RSS reader, please click through to check out the design effort.
Why modify instead of a new theme?
You might be thinking why I took the trouble of clobbering an excellent theme. I will have to take you back to the reason I started blogging in the first place. It was my interest in learning web development and I did not imagine I would try to make money off of it when I registered ShanKri-la (Sep 20, 2006). What better way than to get your own domain name and run a live website? After a few months of fiddling with cPanel & learning HTML & CSS, finally installed WordPress and started blogging towards the end of Feb 2007.
I am still learning various aspects of web development and have become quite adept at helping others with their WordPress theme customization. I loved the current theme I was using but wanted ShanKri-la to have it’s unique look. So, here we go with my custom modification of the Saur theme.
I have to mention a very helpful WordPress plugin that let me work on this new design while you were still looking at the old one.
Theme Test Drive WordPress plugin lets you chose a theme – in my case I made a copy of current theme to a new folder – and after activating the new theme in the plugin menu, you will see the new theme while you are logged in as Admin. Everyone else will continue to see the old theme.
Direct Advertising in ShanKri-la
I have finally opened up direct advertising in ShanKri-la. This was another reason for making the theme mod so I can implement the ad scheme the way I wanted to. A lot of themes seem to put more focus in that than usability and I wanted to strike a good balance for my readers. I would love to hear what you think about it.
Also, you won’t see Google Adsense ads anymore if you are a regular reader here or if you come directly from someone else’s site. I have made it so the ads are visible only to the search engine visitors as they are more likely to click on ads anyways and it would make it pleasant reading for my readers.
For those interested in advertising in ShanKri-la, you can get details of various advertising options from the ‘Adevrtise’ page.
Areas of Improvement
If you have a keen eye, you would probably notice all the changes but I am going to list them here quickly if anyone is interested in things of that sort.
Just some minor tweaks with the search bar gone from here to make way for a premium 468×60 ad space.
Content & Comment Area
Not any major change except the Adsense ads won’t appear for my regular readers (tell me if you miss it ) plus I have removed other ad programs that weren’t performing well.
This is where the big changes are done. I am a strong believer in using tags and tag clouds for easy navigation. Hence the prominent area for the tag cloud. I think the dark colored block stands out highlingting the tags, subscription options & the search field.
Also, added the 125×125 ad area for direct advertisements here.
Footer is another area I have modified a lot by moving some of the clutter from the sidebar to the footer so I can free up the sidebar space for more relevant things. Plus, the slow loading widgets such as MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, etc won’t be a concern anymore as they will be loading after everything else in the page loads up. One major advantage to this is that the sidebar now can show more and longer comments hopefully helping everyone to see the conversation going here.
I am going to concentrate next on improving the load time of the blog as well. I would love to hear any suggestions or your experience in tackling the load time problems.
After all, I have done all this to in an effort to make ShanKri-la a better reading experience for you and would love to hear how you perceive this change.