New template (yet again)
My main impetus for changing templates was not so much that the one I initially chose was ugly. It was because, when checking out my blog on other computers, I sometimes noticed that the sidebar would not show up properly. It would be pushed to the bottom, making for a whole lot of scrolling for anyone who wanted to check out my blogroll. It also meant that my profile and list of favorite posts would not show up until after all the main page posts. This problem seemed to happen mainly on Windows machines running Internet Explorer, particularly at lower screen resolutions. This wouldn't do. So, inspired by the snowstorm yesterday, which kept me from getting to work or doing much of anything else, I fiddled around with things and searched for a new template for which that wouldn't happen (and which was not ugly).
Unfortunately, the reaction to the new template has been overwhelmingly negative. (OK, it was only four comments, but for a humble blog like mine that's a veritable landslide of negative reaction. This ain't Daily Kos or Power Line—or even Pharyngula.) I can see their point. Although it looked cool on my monitor and I had little trouble reading the white text on black background, apparently my readers did. Upon reading some of my lengthier posts, I realized that the design I had picked was a bit hard on the eyes. And rule number one of any sort of publishing effort, blogging, or whatever is to make things easier, not harder, for your readers to read.
After fiddling around with templates yesterday, I found one that (I think) will do for now. It's clean and neat. It's black text on a light background, making for easier reading. The sidebar is on the left, rather than the right, which should make it very unlikely that the sidebar or main bar will get displaced, as happened with the old template. (Certainly tomorrow I'll check it out on the old Dell PC in my lab, which was the first computer I had noticed the problem on, to verify this.) The main bar is wider, allowing for wider lines of text and less scrolling. I had wanted to use one of the other Blogger templates that used much more of the browser window for the text. Unfortunately, they were all either butt-ugly (not so much the design, but the color schemes chosen) or, in the case of one I kind of liked (Bluebird), the sidebar was way too narrow for my purposes. The "harbor" theme would not have been my first choice, but it's growing on me.
All of this leads me to the conclusion that the pre-made Blogger templates are just not that great. None of them really satisifies my needs anymore. Unfortunately, I know very little HTML (as anyone knowledgeable in HTML who looks at source code for the stuff on my sidebar will immediately notice). I've found a few free Blogger templates around the Web, but none of them really satisfy me either. I've found Blogger templates for purchase, as well, but none of them rise to the level of something I'd want to shell out $50-100 for. I'm reluctantly coming to the conclusion that I might actually have to buy some web page design software and/or learn some more HTML to make this page look the way I want it to. (Either that, or I may have to consider switching over to something like TypePad.) In the meantime, the present template should do for the foreseeable future. Once again, let me know if there are problems.
Now, it's off for the second round of snowblowing...