New template (yet again)

Well, that was a short experiment yesterday.

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...


  1. I like your new template (the white background with black "Times" font was the reason I chose this one, too) but when I first popped in just now, I thought someone had hacked my blog! Someone named ... orac!

    I understand your "blog skin/template" dilemma because I also have settled for the template that I find least annoying to look at from the choices offered by blogger. One day, I will design my own skin and it will be ... appropriate and maybe really nice to look at.

    Good luck with learning how to improve your html .. if I was nearby, I'd show you a few tricks ... html is really very easy, after you've figured out the basics. Have you sent email to the blogger staff with youor questions? They are really very responsive. Or maybe there is a "blogging for dummies" book out there?

  2. Thanks.

    Now if I can only figure out why my Hitmap keeps migrating out of the sidebar when individual posts are accessed....

  3. The ready-made Blogger templates are a bit rubbish really. The good news is that if there are templates you like *except* for the colour scheme, that's a really easy bit of HTML to change. If you look in the template in the Blogger interface, you should spot bits of code that look like this:

    'background-color:#******'; for the colour of text, just 'color:#******'; and for the colour of your hyperlinks 'a { color:#******'
    (6 or 3 figures after the #, consisting of letters and/or numbers)

    Now what you need is a fun thingummy like this, which gives you a range of 'web-safe' colours and their codes.

    You can simply replace the existing #****** code - don't change *anything* else around it - with a colour that you like (bearing in mind that the background-color in particular may appear more than once in the template, depending how complex the template is, so you might need to make a note of the code for the ugly original colour and scroll down to check).

    Use the 'Preview' button to see if you like the effect and you've changed it in the right places. If you don't like changes, just undo them using the 'Clear Edits' button. (But it's a good idea to copy the whole of your existing template and save it as a text file, just in case, so you can go back to where you were before you started messing about...) Once happy, save the changes (and then re-publish).

  4. Thank you for the color tip....

    No matter which template I use it looks different on every computer. I pick the one that hurts the least. For a html dummy like me, really, is there such a thing as "Blogging for Dummies"?

  5. Since I was one of the complainers, I just want to say that I like this template a great deal: very readable, and dignified. Thanks.

    Somewhere in the template are commands like "width=666px" which you ought to be able to modify. But I haven't played with them myself. Yet.


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