New Theme for Dave-Wood.Org

newsite.jpg I have finally got around to changing the theme on this site, after a couple of years struggling to maintain a theme that I really liked, but was no longer, unfortunately, support by the author. The theme I have had in place for at least 6 years or so was the Mystique Theme from Digitalnature, for many years one of the more popular themes on WordPress.org (indeed I came across it because it was one of the featured themes). In subsequent releases it was improved, had it’s own bespoke back-end (ATOM) and had various integrated features added such as the featured post slider and social web icons, whilst still being very customisable through child themes. As the years progressed however, maintenance of the theme sadly declined until it got to the stage about 2 years ago that it ceased entirely. Various updates to WordPress since, and plugin compatibility issues that needed manual fixes increasing (most annoyingly with NextGEN gallery), the final straws that made me seek an alternative were commenting breaking with the latest WordPress update and Google’s recent mobile friendly policy, Mystique was certainly not (I had tried to get around this by setting up a mobile friendly clone of the site, but this was not a very satisfactory solution).

So, the search began. There were features of my existing set-up I liked, and wanted to keep. The slider feature was one, and being able to heavily customise another: as you can see from the screen shots below I wanted to keep the overall look of the site the same, but with a fresher more modern feel (for not too much effort). After a certain amount of faffing about on a test site, I eventually came across a set of themes by Cryout Creations, all were customisable, looked like the sort of thing I wanted, and most importantly had been kept up to date, with recent upgrades! After some more faffing, Tempera turned out to be the best on on offer for my needs, and after getting it set up how I want it, I’m pretty happy with the results.

Old site (Mystique Theme) New site (Tempera Theme)

Postives:

  • The theme is fully responsive so my site is now mobile friendly;
  • New look definitely has a more modern feel to it, and looking back at the old theme it does now look a little dated;
  • The slider works (although it can only link to posts, not pages too, hopefully this will be changed soon);
  • Very customisable: apparently over 200 settings built in, but also through child themes can add more bespoke changes;
  • Compatible with all my plugins;
  • Updated recently.

Negatives:

  • Having some Lightbox issues, so some incompatibility with plugin features, but expect to fix those shortly;
  • Slider doesn’t currently link to pages, only posts;
  • Odd bug with embedded vidoes and post excerpts, again expect to fix shortly;
  • Child theme doing some odd things, but working on test site to fix;
  • Would have liked to gone for a wider than 960px site (this was the old standard for web design that’s now no longer as relevant, especially with the greater emphasis on responsiveness), but that would mean resizing all the featured images for the slider, not a trivial job so have left it for another day.

May also give me the kick up the backside I need to finish off the draft posts that have been building up.

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Dave

Mathematician at the University of Warwick in the UK with research interests in equivariant bifurcation theory and applications, especially in modelling of insect locomotion. Teaching interests include online learning and innovative teaching methods. Also occasionally creates material for the University's "International Gateway for Gifted Youth". He has been active on the Internet since 1995, initially though his UFO and Michael Schenker website, but now through a multitude of projects.

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