BitB Gets a Facelift

How do you like the new look? This is the just-released Enterprise theme from StudioPress.  Truth be told, I’ve been looking for a new theme for a while now to replace the MistyLook theme that I adopted when I first migrated my blog from Blogger to WordPress.  MistyLook is a good theme, but there are two things I’ve never liked about it: 1) its relatively narrow width (500 pixels for the posts); and 2) the search box at top right that overlaps the page headings, limiting the number of pages that can be added.  I’ve never understood why so many fixed-width blog themes are as narrow as they are, resulting in long, skinny posts with lots of wasted space on each side.  Perhaps this is to accommodate even the oldest and smallest of computer monitors, but 750 pixels total width seems to be rather extreme.  Flexible-width themes eliminate this problem, but the variable post width plays havoc with paragraph formatting in my (usually) image-heavy posts.  There’s also one more reason I’ve become dissatisfied with MistyLook – it has, over the past year, become a very popular theme (even with the recent exodus of Myrmecos to Science Blogs).  I know, I know… I’m blogging for free, and beggars can’t be choosy – if I want my own look, I can either pony up for a customized theme, or I can look for greener pastures.

Enterprise appears to be those greener pastures.  It has all the features I want – two columns, fixed width, and customizable header.  It’s wider though – 630 pixels for the posts, and the sidebar is slightly wider as well (limits annoying text-wrapping).  It also has a clean, professional look with smaller font and a pleasing blue color for highlighting linked text.  WordPress suggests that Enterprise is “perfect for … a more corporate look,”  but it seems to me to work well as a backdrop for a science-oriented nature blog as well.  The greater width will allow me to add at least one more main page along the top (I’m thinking along the lines of a photo gallery, or maybe a page of techniques articles), and the customizable header allows me to keep the distant image of me in the field to maintain some visual continuity.  I wasn’t sure I would like the blog title and subtitle on top of that image, but matching the color to the background makes it at once visible and unobtrusive.

There are two new features with Enterprise that I really like: 1) the prominent two-level navigation at top, with pages (featuring drop-down menus) in the first level and most-used categories in the second; and 2) a footer with three widget areas – perfect for small, miscellaneous widgets that would clutter up the more list-oriented sidebar.  I’ve gotten things arranged in a way that seems to work for me, although you might see further adjustments over the next few days or so.  I hope you like the new look – please do let me know if you have any ideas on how I can best use its features.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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17 Responses to BitB Gets a Facelift

  1. Henry Robison says:

    I agree Ted! The new look is appealing and will work better for you. Good luck! Looking for more posts from you!

  2. I do like it! I only settled on Misty after deciding I really didn’t like the look of most of the others. This seems like a nice improvement.

    • Thanks, Chris. MistyLook was actually the theme that sold me on WordPress – Alex was using it for Myrmecos, and though I didn’t want to look like I was copying his theme, there really wasn’t a different one that I liked better. Misty is a good theme – I’ve just always wanted more width.

      Of course, I could just try to learn to write smaller posts, but I haven’t been very successful at that🙂

  3. dragonflywoman says:

    Love the new look! I was thinking about switching to Enterprise too since the style I’ve been using won’t display anything but the parent pages in the page section. It’s very frustrating, so I like the pull down menus of Enterprise. I might still go for it since your transition seems to have been successful.

    • Thanks, dragonflywoman. I think many of the themes will display sub-pages if you have pages as a sidebar item. I do agree, however, the drop-down menus for sub-pages is a really nice feature.

  4. Looks great Ted! I definitely like the drop down header bar, a very nice touch!

  5. Looks great, Ted! It seems to be a great choice to organize your impressive content. I love blue…
    Congrats!

    If you ever find yourself feeling the itch to overhaul in the future, there is a program that you can use to define your own theme – page layout and width, menu bars, color schemes – the level of customization is pretty amazing. It is not free though – about $50. It was worth it to me because I like the control and creative process, and have more than one website.

    • Thank you, Amber. I was actually considering whether to buy a custom program until I found this theme, which does (almost) everything I want it to do. I’m also happy with the theme I used for An Inordinate Fondness, but perhaps if this theme suddenly takes off and becomes popular like MistyLook did then I’ll need to consider a custom job.

  6. I’ve been struggling to find the best theme for my blogs as well, and I do appreciate the themes that allow for better organization.

    I guess I’ll be the sole dissenter. I find it looks a bit industrial. The title bar is too small and is overpowered by the navigation bar.

    I do like the wider column though, and I hope that indicates a general trend for WordPress. I am still not satisfied with the theme I use for Voyages…

    Your header photo could be improved by adding the title to the photo before uploading to WordPress. (Picasa does this simply), then selecting ‘Hide Text ‘ for the title bar. Right now, the title is obscuring the most important part of the picture! 🙂

    • Hi Adrian. I do appreciate your candid feedback, and I actually like your suggestion to improve the header. That is done, and I like the result! Like you, I also think the header image could be a tad taller, but that is a minor issue (and really the only one that I have now with this theme) – as long as I fit in the image I’m fine with it.

      Industrial? Perhaps this text-only introductory post is contributing to that impression, but take a look at my subsequent, image-heavy post – The Moth and Me #11. Personally, I think the super clean, professional look nicely compliments my content and style of writing. The font size and organization remind me (in a general way) of the themes used by ScienceBlogs (there I go again, copying Alex), which I really like (save for the advertisements). I also really, really like the navigation bar – it was the hidden gem when I first started considering the use of this theme. To each his own, as we all know, and I do thank you for your comments.

      • Hi Ted, Just back from a trip…

        The page layout for ‘The Moth and Me’ does look great. The wider column allows for a larger inline picture and the results look good. I agree that navigation bars are useful, I just don’t know why they designed it to look so overbearing compared to the header. Just a personal foible, I guess…

        Cheers!

  7. xenogere says:

    Couldn’t you find anything with balloons or cute kittens? Or annoying flashy in-your-face graphics and effects? Live on the edge!

    Seriously: Big difference. I like it, Ted. The increased width is one big plus (I have a widescreen laptop and smaller fixed-width sites always look so minuscule and wasteful of screen real estate). But it’s also cleaner and more professional, which I think better suits your content and style

    And I’m capricious, so change always makes me happy.

    • Hi Jason – thank you! The theme you use has similar qualities – clean, professional lines and organization, small font, etc., so it doesn’t surprise me that you should like it. Personally, I think these types of themes really make the images pop.

      I’m not quite so capricious, but I do enjoy a good makeover every now and then.

  8. peteryeeles says:

    Love the new look. The extra width is great… wish I could add a couple of hundred pixels onto my theme!

  9. Glad you like it, Peter.

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