A Site for Sore Eyes

As you have probably noticed, I’ve been busy changing the look of Shooting Parrots. This doesn’t mean that I think the old site design was particularly jaded, but more because trends in web design keep moving on.

You may or may not know that I use the Thesis framework for WordPress and this was recently updated to take account of those trends. The buzz words are ‘responsive design’ and the main things you’ll notice with the new site is that there is just a single column sidebar and here is the explanation Thesis founder Chris Pearson gave me:

The entire design industry is moving away from 3-column designs, so that’s why the Classic Responsive Skin only supports 1 or 2 columns.

Studies show that bounce rates are higher, time spent on page is lower, and conversions are lower on 3-column designs (2 columns perform better than 3, 1 column performs better than 2).

For responsive designs (which are all the rage now, as I’m sure you know), 3-columns require MUCH more code than 2-column designs.

No, it didn’t mean much to me either, but as far as I can tell, the required ‘responsiveness’  is for the benefit of people who surf the interweb on their phone or tablet. The upshot is that if you change flip from landscape to portrait viewing of this site, the sidebar will rearrange itself to make reading the main content that much easier.

Which is more than can be said for working with the new Thesis. I have really struggled to get this far with the Thesis skins from Themedy.

There are things I like about the new design and things I don’t. Using a ‘featured image’ on the front page is okay, although it means extra work to create a panoramic image layout, but I would prefer that it only applied to the most recent post and that the rest were simply text teasers as before.

The single sidebar has also limited how much content I can include, particularly the ‘regular reads’ list which I find useful in keeping track of new posts. I’ve had to compromise with the rolling random links.

There is still quite a lot of work to do as I try to get my head round the new skin editing features which aren’t quite so simple and straightforward as the Thesis website would have you believe.

Trevor has already given me some feedback (not keen) but I’d like to hear yours if you can take time out to let me know what you think.

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7 comments… Add yours
  • gerald 3rd August 2013

    Part of the problem is trying to remember how it looked before the change. It looks OK – nice to see recent comments column still going, Archives available – categories as a drop-down list seems new – still got your links (aka Regular Reads) that used to have the title of latest post I think which was always something that made me sometimes click on a blog I don’t regularly visit.

  • gerald 3rd August 2013

    last comment made only seeing the one post – I then looked for the link to “previous post” which I though you previously had (but may not have done) so went to “home page” and then I saw how all the “featured images” as you described were drawn along the top of the posts – didn’t care for that presentation. I do like to flick through past posts when visiting blogs as often the particular post might be of minimal interest whereas a recent one not visited could be. I guess though we need to account for the fact that many viewers are visiting through smart phones these days rather than desktop computers.

  • rhymeswithplague 3rd August 2013

    I use Blogger, not Wordpress, and I have changed my blog’s appearance only once in the nearly six years I’ve been blogging. Give me some good reasons why I should change to Wordpress and I just may.

    • Mr Parrot 4th August 2013

      There is no reason to switch from Blogger which is a perfectly good blogging service. I would only suggest changing to Wordpress if you want to try experimenting with look and layout which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea!

  • Complimentary Pudding 3rd August 2013

    I like the clean look of your amended blog design but no more than I liked the previous design. I admire you for daring to dabble with blog presentation in this way. I’m afraid I am too lazy to bother so I just stick to my updated Blogger design. In that regard I am rather like Bobby Joe Brague from across the pond – perhaps like a dinosaur believing that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

  • Mr Parrot 4th August 2013

    Thanks everyone for the feedback. I be experimenting for the time being to see if I can adapt the site to be more to my liking.

  • Elizabeth 6th August 2013

    As you know, Ian, I too have Thesis, and have found the new ‘improved’ version so much harder to work with than the old one. I used to enjoy switching colours etc occasionally, but daren’t touch this one now that it is set up. I can see the logic behind your new style, have seen quite a few blogs changing to it, but I’m afraid it irritates me. I like to see a whole post in front of me – sorry! I also miss your old parrot! BUT…I still think that you are incredibly clever and brave to dabble in the way that you do.


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