Finally, I managed to get a new outfit for D$. I fondly call this new theme DS Premium though it is up to you readers to figure out whether it is good or not. It was never an easy decision to move out my old theme that was somehow close to my heart. However, it was keeping my WordPress upgrade decisions on hold and finally I decided to get rid of the old clothes while upgrading the blogging engine (to WordPress 2.7.1) as well.
DS Premium was not created from ground up by myself. I should confess that I copied some code from here and there though almost 80% of what you see was coded over the past 2 weeks. These changes include revamping the core theme files, styles, images, new logo etc.
Features of DS Premium
The following are some of the cool features of the new theme:
- Super fast and feather light: The entire theme including images, style sheets, scripts and all PHP files come below 150KB. If it still loads slow that is because HostMonster shared hosting sucks (will be soon moving to HostGator)
- Compact header/footer: I really wanted the theme to be lean from head to tail and hence opted for this simple style. This also give a good amount of above-the-fold content/sidebar space
- XHTML compliant and cross-browser compatible: While developing the theme I continuously checked for cross-browser compatibility (on mobile browsers as well) and it looks decent on almost all browsers. IE 6.0 has some minor issues but that is not too bad. After installing the tweetmeme plugin, some compatibility has been lost though
- Four sidebars (widgetized): I badly wanted this left sidebar to do some experiments with subscription and AdSense blocks
- SEO Optimized: I did some experiments with SEO this time. Sidebar headings get H3 this time while single post H1, H2, H3 sequence is maintained and the homepage gets H1 on the logo. I am still experimenting to see if the left sidebar content will push the single post H1 too down the page. Any idea here? However, I intend to stuff the left sidebar with some category keywords
- Simple threaded comments: I think so
The following are the pending activities:
- Need to standardize some of the styles (e.g. page navigation at the bottom)
- Need to stuff AdSense blocks at the right places and also conditionally for search/referral users
- I have to work on an IE bug that causes an extra ‘Read more’ at the bottom of the homepage
- Some of the post content needs to be edited for images to have max 500px width, to include H2, H3 tags etc
- Need to remove certain post categories
- D$ Tools need to be moved to the new style
- Widgetize the footer area
- Some of my old plugins are yet to be tested on WordPress 2.7.1 (e.g. Subscribe to comments) and activated
Unfortunately (though a decent programmer) I am not a web designer. I am not entirely happy with the final final outcome although structurally this is what I wanted. You folks need to tell me how you find the new theme and please provide your valuable feedback on any improvement areas, accessibility-readability issues, font size-color issues, widget reorganizing potential, bugs, script errors etc. Please note that it is still a work in progress and only your feedback can make this short project successful (Feel free to test the threaded comments feature)
I intend to write a post on a how I went about developing this theme. Believe me, there are quite a few lessons learned!
Disclaimer: If you see unmistakable similarity between DS Premium and some of the leading blogs in the same niche, it’s purely intentional