We have a new Theme

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

Pending activities

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

Your feedback

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 :)

Comments

  1. Much better now :-) As for the logo I can’t see it here. Now dunno maybe its a problem on my side coz am using a stupid 64kbps connection lol.

    This theme loads faster than the previous one :-) Good work…and good future work ๐Ÿ˜€

    Kurt Avish´s last blog post… Mothers Day Flash Card – Happy Mothers Day Mom

  2. meghna :

    Yeah, I agree completely. This has a pleasing look and is easy to read. Loads in an instant too.

    So, keep up the great work…

  3. Awesome i can say Ajith :) Great theme you developed dude.

    This looks 1000% better than your previous theme. You’ll rock from now then…

  4. Ajith, now DS looks more professional. good work. Keep it up. One small suggestion, if you can consider justifying the content, then I think it will improve the readability.

    Prasanna´s last blog post… Five minutes guide for creating your first Struts2 project using Maven2

    • Pras, thanks for the feedback on content justification. It was justified in the beginning, but due to the narrow margins (whitespace) on either side it was looking very congested… Will try once again.

  5. Wow Ajith looks very good… Here is my feedback..

    1 – The old logo was gud.. with $ replacing the ‘S’ – Here it doesn’t really look gud..

    2 – The subscribe to RSS has 2 RSS icons, I fell that one wuld be enough…

    3 – The Subscribe by Email does’t really catch the attention..

    4 – Do we really need a ‘Read More’?

    5 – make the bottom page navigation aligned to the center

    These are some of my current observation. will let you know if I see any…

    BTW… You shuld treat us as u have designed this wonderful theme…. and all the best!!

    Samrat P´s last blog post… Manage Your Portable Applications and Files on Pen Drive With CodySafe

    • Samrat,
      Thanks a lot for the detailed feedback.

      1) As for the logo, I need to really redesign it with some professional help. I really tried to make the ‘S’ look like $ with some ‘shower’ impact ๐Ÿ˜†

      2 & 3) As for Subscribe, the second one was more like adding some impact to the ‘What is RSS?’ link. It was looking very plain otherwise… I shall find an alternative. Also, for email, I am thinking how to highlight it. Any ideas?

      4) ‘Read more’ is actually a pain in the neck. If we don’t have it, the homepage will look tall and download time will increase. If I put it, that becomes a prominent keyword… It’s kind of tricky. I am wondering how others manage it.

      5) I tried justifying the page nav to center. It didn’t look good as the content is left aligned. So I moved it from right to left. Could you check if it is okay now?

  6. Nihar :

    Hi Ajith,

    Great theme. I liked it.

    Looks like lot of hours have gone in to this.

    Hope you fix the bugs and add the features that you mentioned soon.

    Nihar´s last blog post… ICC T20 World Cup 2009 Cricket Schedule – Match Timings – Channels Telecasting

  7. Looks Good, Some Great tweaks for sure.

    Shanker Bakshi´s last blog post… Learn How to Build a Better Blog in Just 31 Days?

  8. Ajith,

    The new theme definitely looks strikingly similar to a famous free theme. :) Initially I thought you’ve just used that theme. But reading your post I’ve realized that this is your own theme.

    I never liked the 3 column lay-out. I like 2 column lay-out with contest in the 1st column, which puts contest in the 1st place. This is just a personal choice.

    Did you design the logo yourself? The logo doesn’t look professional yet. I’m sure you are planning to do a new logo later.

    Also, congrats on upgrading wordpress to latest release.

    Ramesh Natarajan´s last blog post… 3 Books Giveaway Winners: Hacking Vim, Lighttpd and Xen Virtualization

    • Ramesh,
      Thanks for your feedback. Nope, I did not take ‘that’ free theme as base.

      Basically, I went for the three-column format just to stuff the things that you see there.. I know, it’s not the greatest looking format. As for the logo, well, it’s my (dirty) job ๐Ÿ˜† I hope to get somebody design it for me free.

      • Ajith,

        One more thing, this is also personal choice. I don’t like the nested reply format, which is not properly readable.

        I like the way how you used to respond to all the comments in one single comment addressing it to the individuals with @name in the same comment.

        Following are the two reasons this nested format is not good.

        1. This is not readable and does not flow very well, when browsing through the comment sections.
        2. It inflates the comment total count, as you are replying to all the individual comments.

        Please note that this is only my personal preference.

        Ramesh Natarajanยดs last blog post… 4 Effective Methods to Disable SELinux Temporarily or Permanently

        • I totally agree with you Ramesh. In fact, threading has been pissing me off in the past two days – earlier I used to comment only after a day of posting now somehow forced to reply to all. It’s also making some of these posts in the popular posts list where some great posts with slightly lesser comments are not getting visibility :(

          Also, I hate seeing my own name repeated too many times in the thread.

          Going forward, I will be replying to the comments the old way unless somebody asks a question that deserves a threaded reply.

  9. Wow! Excellent theme – the last time i visited there was the blue one! this one is much better

    Keep up the good work!

    Cheers
    Sandeep

    Curious Little Person´s last blog post… Page Rank Explained? CLPโ€™s got a PR1!

  10. ebele :

    Hi Ajith,

    I initially thought I’d come to the wrong site! Looking good, my man! Looking good. I particularly like the new logo.

    Well done, you :-)

    take care…

    ebele´s last blog post… Whoppeedeedoodaafrikkinyay, I finally reached payout on GlobalTestMarket!

  11. Mitch :

    Nice job, Ajith. Very clean, very lean. You programmed a nice theme, I must say.

    Mitch´s last blog post… Do You Need A Contact Page?

  12. This is a “Wow” for me, though I also think that your previous logo was better. But the entire theme looks neat than the previous one.

    Regarding the ‘Read more’ link, if you are using html on it, why not use the ‘rel=nofollow’ code so it won’t appear as a keyword? I am not sure if I am right because I am not a developer. :)

    Frenchy´s last blog post… Google Just Released A Faster And More Stable Google Chrome 2.0

  13. Donace :

    I like the new theme, simple yet works. I would have waited till 2.8 for a revamp but hey.

    Speed wise yes faster and ‘yslow’ addon gives it a C.

    SEO wise I would no-follow/no index the Archives page at the very least.

    I would replace the ‘read more’ in the index.php file with ‘read more on post title’. I cant recall the exact code on how to amend it but a google should help you out.

    I would also no-follow the ‘comments’ on the front page, however I dont think it makes a difference as it just a css reference.

    No-follow/no-index the the page number at the bottom. We want eh front page to retain as much as possible.

    Also no-follow ‘comment-luv enabled’, would require a small plugin hack.

    No-following the cats. is one thing I have debated on doing myself (and I think I have), the logic being we want the most PR to be in 1) the homepage 2) the actual posts and 3) vital pages.

    I also notice you dont have a sitemap (human readable) I would recommend Dagon Design plugin. My latest SEO experiment to build links to it and see what happens…seems to be not a lot lol. However I find a sitemap is useful.

    I would perhaps but the ‘resources’ section in a more prominent area to draw attention to it; as it is a key reason to bookmark and return to the site.

    Lastly we need a new Pic to go with the theme! Yo and Your wife this time! It is Vidya and Ajiths blog, not just Ajith ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • You are the man! Thanks for all those tips. Most of the nofollow has been incorporated. CommentLuv is a little tricky – yet to be done.

      I intentionally didn’t use the sitemap. I sitll have the dagon design installed (and previously used it).

      Resources have been moved up and is now tailed by Google ads. Hopefully, it will help with some clicks :)

      As for the about page and snaps, yes, I need to work on it, though my wife doesn’t contribute to this blog any longer. She writes about herself, me and kids alone ๐Ÿ˜†

  14. I like your theme theme buddy …

    It is loading much faster than your previous one ! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    You made anything special for it ? ๐Ÿ˜€

    S.Pradeep Kumar´s last blog post… Introduction To HTACCESS

  15. Melvin :

    I think it’s a nice theme and it’s true that it loads really fast. It’s also good that its cross-browser compatible because most bloggers don’t check the compatibility

    • Thanks Melvin. Cross-browser compatibility was one of my prime goals though on IE 6.0 it has some problems :( However, it works smooth on IE 7.0 and later, FF 3.X, Chrome 2.X and Opera

  16. IE 6 always has problems – sometimes it’s best to just call it a day. I get so tired of trying to make the code work for that one browser when the others are fine.

    I like the new look a lot and it loads SO fast :-)

    People are mentioning the old logo … I must not have any short term memory bec I can’t really remember it except for the blue – didn’t it have a $ in it?

    I don’t think you needed to wait for 2.8 … there aren’t going to be as many major changes in that version.

    Kim Woodbridge\´s last blog post… Twitter and Facebook Integration: Stop Making Every Tweet Your Facebook Status

    • You are right Kim. IE6 is a pain in the… Unfortunately, I still get around 70-80 visitors, that use IE 6.0, every month.

      The old logo, according to me, wan’t that great – it was done by me as well.

      I guess, you are right about the 2.8 version… I probably has enough time on this one before moving to 3.0!

  17. Nice theme :)

  18. Buddy, even I loved your previous theme. You have asked suggestions about the left sidebar pushing post to bottom, here are few things you may consider.

    1. There is a wp plugin to make all sidebar widgets as iframes – if you use that, SEs won’t crawl iframes pushing your post up.

    2. I read this somewhere sometime back, but its wise to consider. Adding a empty div to left sidebar beginning, then loading post, then right sidebar followed by left sidebar. I am not sure how far this can be executed perfectly, but the concept if worked out works well.

    To avoid this particular problem, I have placed my sidebar on the right, and that’s right ๐Ÿ˜›

    Good luck and happy life with new theme :)

    Pavan Kumar\´s last blog post… Add Microsoft Bing Search Engine to Firefox Search Box

    • Thanks for your feedback Pavan. As you rightly said, iframes can conflict with the Google AdSense ToS. Also, using the tactics like delayed loading or writing div’s dynamically etc can cause cross-browser compatibility issues.

  19. well, if you make use of my first point, you will not be able to use adsense there according to their tos :(

    Pavan Kumar\´s last blog post… Add Microsoft Bing Search Engine to Firefox Search Box

  20. Ajith please check the Slashes after ” Authors \ยดs last blog post ” .

    Anish K.S\´s last blog post… Zee Cafe and Zee Studio strike Gold at the Promax/BDA India Awards 2009

Speak Your Mind

*