About the new look

Happy Thanksgiving! Though I did spend plenty of time with the family today, I tend to feel that holidays are a good time to make major changes to a website. That’s because I’m too lazy to set up a separate testing environment and instead do all the tinkering live on the site while people might be trying to read, so I feel it’s best to do it when the majority of the readership isn’t online. (Sorry if anyone was discombobulated. I hope you can recombobulate without too much trouble.)

This is a new WordPress theme, Stargazer, and it’s by one of the most tech-savvy themers out there, Justin Tadlock. He modestly calls Stargazer

the most advanced theme ever created for WordPress without compromising standards. This is the only theme in the world that you’ll find that extends WordPress’ built-in theme features so robustly but naturally. The theme is built on the rock-solid Hybrid Core theme framework.

It’s built with search-engine optimization (SEO) in mind by utilizing the most current HTML5 conventions and Schema.org microdata.

It did almost everything I wanted out of the box, but I have had to make a few changes (via the approved method, creating a child theme), such as including full content rather than excerpts on most pages and doing away with the garish blockquote styling. There are a couple more things I intend to tweak if I can figure out how. But the point is that I can make changes if y’all have criticisms or suggestions.

There are a few differences from the previous theme (Twenty Ten). The site should seamlessly adapt to whatever device you’re viewing it on, and there’s a lot more hyphenating as a result. Individual posts now have a breadcrumb navigation at the top, obviating the need for a redundant Home link on the navigation bar opposite the blog title. The comments link is now after the date at the top of the post, and the category and tag links are at the bottom after the sharing buttons. I’ve left the extra search button in the very top right corner for now — that’s the default, crappy search function provided by WordPress. The Google Custom Search button near the top of the sidebar should work better most of the time, presuming Google has correctly indexed the site.

For WordPress geeks, there’s a lot more about the Stargazer theme at WordPress Tavern. I especially liked this part:

With Stargazer, Tadlock is aiming to keep the barrier for entry low so that DIY users/future theme developers are encouraged to experiment. All of the complex aspects of the theme are kept out of site in sub-folders of the parent theme. You don’t have to know a ton of PHP code to get started.

Very true. The complexity of the code of many contemporary WordPress themes is discouraging to a hobbyist like me. Tinkering with Stargazer is actually fun — the way all WordPress tinkering used to be.