purplearth_s – Our New Theme

Our previous theme (The “theme” determines the “look” of a WordPress site such as this one) was beginning to get a bit stale. So I built a new one.

Over the past few years, I’ve tweaked, fixed, and slapped together themes for dozens of WordPress sites. With a bit of extra time over the past week or two, I endeavored to build a purplearth theme that presents our content aesthetically and usably while introducing features that define a modern web site.

I also wanted to make a theme that didn’t look like a WordPress theme.

After the jump, I’ll talk about the highlights of this new theme, and the thought process that went into it.

One thing that every WordPress theme seems to have in common is a horizontal navigation menu (usually in the form of a “navbar”) somewhere near the top of the screen. But nobody seems to put vertical navigation on the side any more, so I did, just to be different (though I have done it before).

Modern browsers support features that enable use of almost any font in the universe… a developer no longer is limited to the fonts that happen to be on a user’s system. So we were able to use our favorite fonts that have long been part of our branding.

This is a “responsive” theme, which means the styling behaves differently for smaller screens. As the screen gets narrower, font sizes adjust and layout changes. If done right, this type of design will present a layout appropriate for the device – whether it’s a large desktop screen or a smartphone – while retaining a consistent look at all sizes.

Unfortunately, some of the cool stuff doesn’t show up in IE (at least not in version 8 or earlier, which is all I have available for testing. Your Mileage May Vary). Everything still works fine, it just doesn’t look as good. Anyone using these old non-compliant browsers is missing out on a much cooler Internet than the one they are now experiencing.

So how does it look on your system? Do you see the rounded corners all over the place? The yellow drop shadows around the title? Do you see the font Helvitica Rounded in prominent places, and Gill Sans for normal text? Does all the text stay in the confines of its designated box?

Any reports, reviews, and suggestions are welcome. After all, if there’s a way to make this theme better, I’d like to know about it.

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