If No One Sees My Blog Theme, Does It Still Exist?

WordPress gives its bloggers a wide variety of themes to choose from, one of the many features that led me to blog here. There’s a great range of free themes, and we have some options for personalizing them. If we’re willing to shell out some money, we can purchase premium themes with more options to make our blogs “stand out from the crowd” and be “more exclusive.” We can spend more money and further customize our themes with CSS.

Themes are a great way for us to express our individuality and personality in a visual manner. But there’s a change in the air.

SubtletyWhen viewed on anything other than a “regular” computer, most of that personalization is stripped away. Consider the view below of both my blog and Carrie Rubin’s The Write Transition as seen on a laptop using Mozilla Firefox and visiting the actual posts—not using WordPress’s Reader. My blog uses the Able Theme, and I’ve purchased the CSS upgrade that lets me do some customizing. Here, that’s limited to fonts that aren’t available on the free versions. Carrie Rubin is using Watson, a premium theme. Note that my “widgets” show up on my post pages. The Watson theme shows widgets only on the home page, so you don’t see Carrie’s in the post in the example below.

Yes, there’s a lot of “empty” space. But that’s only because I zoomed out to include as much of the posts text and images as possible in the illustration. When viewed as originally intended—when everyone used a computer, whether desktop or laptop, to read blogs—everyone would see the themes as we laid them out. We had a lot of room that could be filled with text, images, and cool little gizmos called widgets. Themes still give us the options for multiple columns filled with widgets of all types. Personalized color schemes, layouts, menus, and images are easily seen when visiting the “real” site. Both my menu and Carrie’s are easily accessible under our headers. Here we have links to content beyond our blog posts that we want to share with readers.

Times change, of course, and now humans are fascinated with mobile computers, or “devices” as we’ve come to call them. Tablets and smart phones are all the rage. A smaller screen, however, makes those “old-fashioned” layouts hard to read. So “apps” streamline the blogs to make them “more easily readable” on those devices. Something—a lot, I’d argue—is lost in the translation.

WordPress has gone so far as to create the Reader, which even on a laptop scrolls in a similar fashion to phone and tablet apps. The image below is the same two posts being viewed with WordPress’s Reader on my laptop. I think you’ll notice the difference.

Gone are our custom headers and background colors. My widgets? Also gone. My menus and Carrie’s? Gone. You would need to visit our sites to see them. And how many of you Reader users ever do that? Carrie’s post-leading image doesn’t appear in the Reader. I’m not sure why, but it may be related to her Watson theme, which does not have a “responsive” layout designed for flexibility on various devices. Able is a responsive theme, and I used the “featured image” option on this post. That’s the one that appears in the Reader instead of the first image in the post.

As we downsize on devices, the details continue to disappear. Okay, I’ll admit that on a tablet, things aren’t too bad. The WordPress iPad app restores our custom headers and images. And you can see a bit of my background color, but not so much of Carrie’s. Our menus are also visible and easily accessible—unlike when using the Reader on a laptop or desktop computer.

Many bloggers have said they do most of their post reading on their cell phones, using stolen moments in waiting rooms or in the car when waiting for their children. But what do we see? All I can say is, “Theme? What theme?” Do you see one?

This post came about because I’ve been tweaking my blog’s look and content for a while. I started making my own graphics (like the first image in this post) and coordinating their colors with those on the blog. To kick of my third year, I changed themes and added a background color customized to match my personalized clip art. Alas, no one seems to have noticed. I’m betting most folks use the Reader or a mobile device, and so the changes aren’t apparent. Oh, well. I enjoy the new look, even if no one else sees it or any future new pages and content.

But this begs the question—Is there any reason to have themes if no one will ever see them?

Actually, this raises even more questions. What about that specialized content we place in widgets and on pages accessible through our menus? If you look back to the phone images above, you do see menu options at the top of the post. And my Able theme makes it prominent. But all widgets are relegated to the bottom of the post. Do you stick around to scroll through them? I’ll bet not.

Even though I enjoy the way my blog looks on my laptop, it’s somewhat of a letdown to invest the effort in creating those special pages when in all likelihood, many readers won’t even realize they exist. In this day of mobile devices and shortened attention spans, how can such information be presented so that someone reading on a smart phone will find it and be motivated to navigate through it? I wish I had the answers.

So do you see bloggers’ themes? Do you visit a blogger’s “original” site, or do you use the Reader or some other feed and go only from post to post? How would you make “extra content” visible on smaller devices? Or would you decide the extras have gone the way of the dinosaurs and not offer them anymore?

My thanks go to Carrie Rubin for allowing me to use screen shots from her blog to help illustrate this post.

91 thoughts on “If No One Sees My Blog Theme, Does It Still Exist?

  1. Yes I agree, I thought the same thing about the new Reader set-up, where you don’t see the theme or all the widgets, and I wonder whether it counts in the stats as a page view if they read the whole thing in there rather than clicking through to the page? (I know we can choose for it to just show an excerpt of our posts or the full thing as a default). Personally I read the majority of blog posts on a proper computer/laptop and so I get the full experience. I still work to provide the full experience for those who visit my site, but for those who just read the post in another format and don’t see anything else, well so be it! It’s just the way things are.

    Like

    • At first glance with this post, I don’t think the new Reader records a site view, even when someone has to view the original to see the full post. I’ve been checking periodically today, and I’ve still gotten “likes” without the number of views going up. What’s very strange is that I’ve received email notifications that a couple of folks liked the post, but they never showed up in my “orange notification thingy.” So who knows what the heck is going on with those “stats.”

      I’ve been pleasantly surprised that so many commenters actually visit the original blog to read posts. I really thought I was one of the last hold outs! At least for now, though, there’s not much we can do for those folks who use smaller devices. And they may not be interested in our other content, either, which is okay. Kind of. 😉 Of course I’d prefer people to take their time when they’re here and see what’s new!

      Like

    • I know I won’t be spending money on a premium theme, at least until it’s recognizable on a small device! I’m pleasantly surprised, though, at the number of commenters who are saying they still visit the original sites. That’s encouraging to me!

      Like

  2. I don’t like the new Reader at all and it doesn’t matter if I’m reading on my cell, iPad, or laptop, I always click “View Original.” I just prefer to see the full site. You have a great theme and your page set up looks great, but I can understand your questions. Why invest so much time on the appearance if very few people are going to view it? Ultimately though, if you are building your author platform you are bound to attract an agent and I’m sure he or she will visit the actual site. You’ll want it neat and tidy and all of your efforts will have been worth it! 🙂

    Like

    • You make a great point about that potential future audience—for writers, it could be an agent who might be interested in taking me on as a client and wants to see how good a job I’m doing with social medial and platform building. But it could also be a potential employer or client for other bloggers. And so our blogs/websites should look as good as we can make them.

      It’s encouraging that you and many other commenters still visit the original site to read posts and even check out some of the widgets and extra content. I’m sure we’re in a transitional period between “traditional” computers and the next big development that will become the new standard. I just wish the smaller devices were better for showing content and navigating to that content. 🙂

      Like

  3. I’m using feedly as my reader. I’m not having any problems viewing anyone’s blogs. When I see a new post, I visit the site. You chose well on a “responsive” theme. These are designed for optimization on tablets, cell phones, etc.

    Like

    • Er … confession time—I’ve never heard of feedly. 🙂 Of course, learning to use a reader seems like a chore I can’t bring myself to take on these days. I really liked my previous Comet theme, but it wasn’t responsive. And when I visited my blog on my phone, it wasn’t that easy to read. So I decided it was time to go responsive. But whether responsive or not, those smaller screens just aren’t visually appealing the way a larger screen is. Maybe we’ll have the best of both worlds when someone creates an affordable small device that can project a larger hologram for a image. 🙂

      Like

  4. I feel your pain. I use blogspot because it allowed me to alter the CSS and HTML without having to pay anything, and I have free reign when it comes to the desktop website. But the moble site is completely unchangeable. I got to choose one of six or seven themes and that was it. The mobile version of my blog is exactly the same as one sixth of all other blogspot sites.

    I think it’s really important that bloggers get more freedom to customise their mobile sites, because you’re right – that’s the platform more people are using to read our posts. So, Google, WordPress – your move.

    Like

    • The different blogging platforms have their tradeoffs. WordPress makes us pay for CSS capabilities, but we can use our particular theme on mobile devices if we want. They do offer a free mobile version we can use if our theme’s aren’t responsive, but I’d guess it’s on the basic side.

      I mentioned in an earlier comment that I think we’re in the transition period between our “traditional” computers and the next big breakthrough, whatever that will be. But until then, I wish there was some way to make the “mobile” experience more like the traditional one, where it was easier to navigate—even if we had to use a mouse and not our index finger. (And, boy, don’t get me started with tiny mobile keyboards and typing! 🙂 ) Think Google, WordPress, and the others will take up your challenge?! And if they do, can I please also suggest making it easier for those of us on different platforms to communicate with one another?

      Like

  5. I don’t use the reader, JM. I get alerts in my email. Blogs appear differently on my iPad than my laptop, but I see all of your beautiful blog on my laptop. I think you summed it up with the “short attention span” thing. But I still read, with or without all the flash. :).

    Like

    • We’re old school, Brigitte—relying on those email alerts! Knock on wood, mine are working again. 🙂 I’ll use the iPad in a pinch or when traveling, but I really prefer my laptop, even if it’s no longer considered a “mobile device.” And the cell phone is a last resort. Like Creative Mysteries says below, I prefer reading the way the blogger intended. Knock on wood, my attention span still has some length to it!

      Like

      • I think I’ve angered the WP Gods. I posted this morning and some of my peeps said I did not show up in their reader, JM. You cannot diss the WP reader. You’v been warned. 😀

        Like

        • I just checked my reader, and you are not there! But when I look at my daily digest email, you posted early enough to be included there. I’ll go out on a ledge and guarantee I’ll never be Freshly Pressed and will disappear from the Reader, too — Email notifications trump Reader! 😀

          Seriously, though, you should contact Support and let them know this has happened. They’re often very good at helping to fix problems when they can.

          Like

          • I have, but anymore I can’t go directly to support. There is only a tab to put it up to the Community and then no one from WP support will answer. Only someone named Time Thief who is a member. What is happening? I used to be able to contact Support directly and keep inquiries private.

            Like

            • Can you get there with this link? http://en.support.wordpress.com/contact/

              It should take you to a page where you can go through a series of questions that ultimately let you send them a message and choose whether it’s private or can be shared publicly. This is what I used the last time I had problems with the email notifications, and they got back to me quickly.

              Like

              • No, I don’t even go through a series of questions anymore. And I used to could choose private or public and no one will even respond to me. I can’t even get a tab to come up to choose private — only that community thing — and I pay for upgrades. I’m not happy.

                Like

                • Something’s definitely wrong then, because if you pay for upgrades, you’re supposed to get direct support. There’s got to be another way to get to them. But it might be worth a blog post and include “WordPress” and “Support” in the tags. Maybe someone would have more suggestions.

                  Like

                • I finally received an answer from that public forum thing from someone designated as “Staff.” He said the form should be back up by Wednesday, whatever that means. I may just have to go that route. It seems I get more answers from the bloggers! Thanks, JM.

                  Like

  6. I use the Reader but I always visit the blogger’s “original site”. I enjoy a better reading experience when I can see the theme, the widgets, the pages, and the blog in its entirety. I think the change in the Reader was unnecessary and negatively affects many bloggers’ stats, including mine.

    Like

    • I’m really happy to see that you and a number of other commenters still visit the original sites for reading. You’re so right—the reading experience is much more enjoyable when we see the blogger’s personality “around” the posts. And ever since the Reader was introduced, it’s been a stats killer. The stats page has become meaningless as a result. When I can watch a post get 5 consecutive likes with no increase in views, what are the “stats” telling me? Nothing accurate, that’s for certain.

      Thank you for joining the conversation!

      Like

  7. I don’t read blogs on my cell phone because it is too small. I will use my iPad or laptop. I don’t use the Reader; I visit blogs according to my email notifications – although I need to change that habit. I agree it seems like a waste of money to invest in theme upgrades if most people can’t see them on their mobile devices. I will also say though, that I tended to click on widgets and visit various pages in blogs when I first started out blogging. Mainly, because I was still learning the ropes. I don’t do that nearly as much anymore, so missing out on widgets and other avenues of exploration don’t bother me. I would say that 99% of my blog reading is posts – not widgets or extra pages.

    Like

    • It’s encouraging for me to hear that so many commenters still visit the original blogs to read posts. And Arlene gives a great reason why we should keep them looking good, even if not everyone sees them as we intend. I’ll still check out a blogger’s widgets and pages, especially when I’m deciding whether to follow or not. Granted, I don’t follow new blogs very often because at 149 blogs followed, I have to be more selective. Recently, I did “unfollow” some where the blogger hadn’t posted in a year or more.

      My cell phone is a last resort for blogging. I haven’t even downloaded the WordPress app for it yet because even though it’s a Galaxy S4 (one of the big ones), it’s too small to do much of anything but read.

      And until the smaller platforms can provide the “uniqueness” that our full-sized originals do, I won’t be purchasing a premium theme. And maybe I never will. There really are a lot of nice free ones to choose from, and I’d like to think an agent or editor visiting my blog would think it looks good. 🙂

      Like

  8. A relevant post for all of us. Guess I shouldn’t be so worried that my widgets don’t show up on my post pages since they essentially don’t show up anywhere unless someone enters my actual site on my home page.

    I don’t like what WP has done with the new reader format. Before I could click on the title, and the post would open into a new window. I prefer that to their text box, because not everybody’s blog post can be read within the box. Many have the ‘click here’ to read more tab. So now I have to make an extra click and then X out of the box to return to my reader. Just extra steps that aren’t necessary. The old way was better in my opinion.

    I read posts a variety of ways but most often by clicking on the link from my email notification or through my reader. I only use my phone or iPad if I’m not at home (or if I’m lounging in bed Saturday morning and don’t want to get up 🙂 ).

    Great post. The issue really stands out when you put the visuals in like that. And thanks for using my site in your examples. I’m happy I had a cute baby picture in that post instead of my sleazy salesman image…

    Like

    • Oh, boy, the original Reader was bad enough. But you’re so right—the new one doesn’t look better and requires more clicks. Shouldn’t the goal be fewer? That really struck me when I was doing the screen shots for this post with both our blogs and others that I was testing. If I remember correctly, the “old” Reader showed the full posts, no matter if a blogger used the “insert more” feature or not. I didn’t like that because I used that feature specifically to get people to view the original post! Now, it does respect that move by the blogger, although from what I noticed today, it still doesn’t generate a view in our stats. So those are still as inaccurate as they became when the Reader was introduced.

      It’s refreshing to hear that more bloggers view our original sites than I suspected. As I mentioned to Creative Mysteries above, I like seeing the posts surrounded by the blogger’s personality. When they’re all stripped down to sameness on smaller devices, a feeling of Orwell’s 1984 strikes me. I hope that’s not the desired effect!

      I would’ve chosen the post led by the cute baby picture even if the sleazy salesman was more recent. 😉 Although, that cute picture has probably been overtaken by the now-viral pictures of the cat and deer buddies!

      Like

  9. I noticed the changes and I like your new background color. I always visit the actual site either through email or the reader. If people are looking at the posts through a phone, I’m guessing they wouldn’t want the extras in there because then there might be too much to look at, but I still don’t have a cell phone so what do I know. It takes me a while to catch up with the previous decade. 🙂

    Like

    • You have no idea how glad I am to hear that I’m not the only one who’s a decade (or more!) behind the times. 🙂 And I’m also happy that so many commenters still visit the original sites, where we can see the bloggers’ personalities come through in their choice of themes and personalizations. I’m still old school enough that even if someone’s entire post shows up in my email notification, I’ll still visit the site to give them a view in the stats!

      For years, I had the most basic of cell phones, keeping them until the batteries gave out. They were just for emergencies. And while I decided to give a smart phone a try this fall, it’s already apparent that it’s far more than I need. What I do like is the good camera on it. It’s great for those times when I don’t want to carry both a phone and a camera. Otherwise, the phone’s “smartness” is wasted on me!

      Like

      • I’m really not smart enough for a smart phone. 🙂 And I’m definitely missing a decade in there somewhere. A camera like that would help though. My camera is pretty small but I don’t always remember to bring it along and that’s usually when I see all kinds of photo opportunities.

        Like

  10. Your post is so timely for me because I just changed my theme to update the look of my blog. I think it’s cool but now when I checked it on my smart phone, it doesn’t quite carry over the way I’d like. I did notice that it also looks different on my husband’s computer than on mine. Due to screen size and other technical things I don’t understand, I’m sure. I like many of your commenters, prefer to go to the actual site for a better reading experience. Yours is gorgeous. Occasionally, though, I do use my smart phone to catch up so you are raising great points.

    Like

    • I just popped over to take a quick look, and I like your new theme. Of course, I checked on my laptop, so I’m not sure how it translates to a tablet or cell phone. 😉 Your comment about how your site looks different on your computer and your husband’s got me thinking that it would be nice if themes were a bit more like .pdf files. I understand why they need to look different on a full-size laptop and a phone. But can’t they look alike on different laptops or browsers?

      Even if everyone had said, “I use a smart phone, who needs themes?” I think Arlene raised a fantastic point above. They’re great to have if someone “special” comes by to have a look at the original site—be that a potential agent for a writer, a potential employer for a job candidate, or a potential client for a self-employed blogger, for example. I hope interest like that could be enough to make developers consider more and better personalization on mobile platforms.

      Like

      • I like to idea of themes that work like pdf files–they get stabilized so they look the same on any computer. And I agree that having a professional-looking theme is great for those “special” visitors.
        Glad you like my new look.

        Like

  11. Very timely post. I’ve been trying on themes and thinking about doing an entire overhaul too. I generally read full sites in the mornings and then on my phone in the afternoons, so I see some of the pretty design stuff you’ve done, and it looks great!

    Like

    • Thanks, Rachelle! Social media outlets have really changed how we present ourselves to the public, haven’t they? And I really enjoy the personalization that bloggers and websites put into making their “homes” unique and a reflection of themselves. But mobile devices really strip that part of the experience bare. And that’s a shame in my book. I’m encouraged by the fact that you and so many other commenters do visit the original sites. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who sees “the place” as I’ve set it up. And if you do change themes, knock out a few walls, or build an addition to your blog, I’ll notice!

      Like

  12. I usually get an email notification and click on the actual blogs, so I always see all your hard work with your theme. But you bring up a good point. I would guess most people are using phones now to do their blog reading, and then they aren’t seeing a lot of that hard work and effort. I didn’t know about responsive themes–now I need to go check what mine is. I haven’t played with my blog in forever (and it shows…sorry).

    Like

    • That’s how I read blogs, too. I’ve never trusted the Reader to be accurate, and I saw that firsthand today with Brigitte’s post. It was in my email notification but not in my Reader. I haven’t changed my blog theme very often over the past two years, but I thought it was time to give it a makeover, even if not a drastic one. I played around with a lot of themes before choosing Able. So I’ll probably be sticking with this one for a long time, too.

      I’m glad that more readers visit the actual blogs than I had thought. It means they are seeing our layouts as we intended, and that’s nice.

      Like

  13. So far I haven’t read anything via the reader but have clicked ‘view original’ each time, it’s easier and I like to give people the view since I’m reading their work. I guess this explains the slow down in views recently. Or maybe I’ve just lost my touch 😉
    And when viewing posts by mobile on mobile view, I do scroll down to check out their widgets! 🙂

    Like

    • Yay for all of us who still use our laptops and visit the original sites! I’m really happy to hear that so many bloggers will still go that route. The reading’s a much better experience that way. The Reader is tricksy—from what I see, it doesn’t count as a view in our stats even if someone clicked on the post to visit the original. I use the “more” feature on my posts, so they come up in the Reader saying “Sorry, you need to click here” or whatever it says. But when I checked on this post early yesterday morning, I was getting “likes” without my view counter going up.

      Normally I see a pick up in views after summer ends. But this year, nothing, even though I continue to see new followers. I suspect whatever changes are out there with blog platforms and browsers are “hiding” a lot of our views. And that’s disappointing. Because it’s nice to know that people are reading, even if they’re not leaving a “like” or comment.

      And thank you for looking at widgets! I know a lot of folks who put a lot of thought into them!

      Like

      • Oh I didn’t know that! Now I can feel better about the recent lull in views. I thought the old reader was easier anyway, 1 click instead of 2.

        Well, I know how much thought I put into organizing my own widgets so like to see how others set theirs up and so I can browse other posts!

        Like

  14. Hi JM,
    This is a really interesting post, and I never really thought about the variation in appearance. It’s good to know there are differences, depending on the device used. I receive your posts (and my other favorite bloggers’) via email, but I always click on the post’s title so I can go to the blogger’s site. I almost always read blogs from my laptop. I hate straining my eyes on an iPhone. Part of the fun of reading blogs is experiencing the uniqueness of each, and that’s reflected in the author’s writing as well as the theme. Even if I’m scrolling through my WP Reader, I’ll still click on the post to visit the site. Thanks for pointing this out. I’ll keep it in mind the next time I’m adding or changing something. Just curious – how do you prefer to read blogs?

    Like

    • I use email notifications, too, and click on the titles to visit the sites, even if the full post is in the email. I hope that still generates a view for the blogger, although that could’ve changed without me knowing it. I almost always use my laptop, only using my iPad or phone in a pinch. I like to see how a blogger has set up their site and made a theme their own.

      I only use the Reader when the email notifications fail to come in, and I can’t stand it. One, I don’t like the way it looks. But most importantly, there’s no way to “hide” or “close” the posts I’ve already seen. So if I have to leave off somewhere and then come back, I can’t just pick up where I left off. That’s far too frustrating and time consuming for my tastes. But I am really glad to see a lot of bloggers are still visiting the original sites. That’s encouraging to me. 🙂

      Like

      • I agree with you about the Reader. I scroll through it occasionally, but I’m really only looking for the bloggers I most like to read. I really should cut down on how many blogs I follow. I find when I use the Reader, I still always come back to my favorites.Thanks again for this informative post.

        Like

  15. I DID notice the change, JM, even though I’m not online very often, and I like it. I’ve always used the Reader. I like the synopsis of the post and when I go to the blog on my laptop, I see your handywork in all its glory. No worries! I have neither a smart phone nor a tablet, so I always get your full blog! xoxoM

    Like

    • It’s really nice to see that a lot of folks still visit the original sites. Most of us take time to personalize them, and it’s nice when people can see that! I’d hate to lose that if devices continue to shrink and take over. If they ever make the Reader “smarter” so that I can hide posts I’ve already seen, I might make the switch from email notifications. But I also don’t trust the Reader. Brigitte’s last post didn’t show up at all in mine, and if I didn’t use email notifications, I wouldn’t have known she posted!

      Like

  16. I haven’t read many other comments but I go to main sites in almost all caes. I rarely use the Reader. I do’t have an iDevice or an Android and using the web on my old phone is like walking with dinosaurs. I subscribe to most people by email so by the end of the day my inbox is overflowing and I trawl through it in the evenings on the laptop (when I really should be writing!). So I do see everyone’s themes and I enjoy that. It adds atmosphere to the site. You pick up their personality in most cases. (Having said that, my own theme is getting rather dull. Time for a change when I get some time!)
    Now might be a good time to point out that (now, this is a reflection on me, not you or your blog/theme) your heading picture reminds me of Snoopy’s house in the back yard. I think it’s the books that look like the roof of his doghouse. No, I don’t smoke and only drink socially! 😉

    Like

    • Hmm, well, at least Snoopy’s doghouse would be appropriate, given his writerly leanings. 🙂 Although, I don’t think I’ll ever lead off a story with “It was a dark and stormy night”!

      Most commenters have said they view the original sites, too, and that’s really good to hear. It’s nice to know that people are seeing the blog the way I do and not in some stripped down version for a phone. My email notifications had gotten out of hand, too, and so I switched from “instant” to daily and weekly notifications for the blogs I follow. With gmail at least, the posts all get included in a single email each day, each post is still listed separately in there, and when I’ve finished looking at one, I can delete that part of the message without losing all the others. That has been a big help for me with time management and keeping track of what I’ve read. Plus, my inbox doesn’t look quite so intimidating! 🙂

      Like

      • Yes, GMail is good with keeping related emails together. I might use my GMail account for this rather than Yahoo, especially since Yahoo changed their interface to try to look like GMail and totally stuffed it. I lost a draft the other day because Yahoo decided to make a little toolbar appear under your mouse cursor when you hover over a certain part of the message. I moved the mouse up and clicked it just as a trash can appeared under the mouse. Boom! Gone. I was too quick to realise what happened and then saw it in the trash folder and did exactly the same thing again and lost it for good. Don’t tell anyone. It’s embarrassing! I write software, I should know better. Then again, it seems some people design user interfaces worse than I do.

        Like

  17. This is a logical follow-through from your last post, JM, about “If it ain’t broke….” As a person involved in web design, it’s been something of a headache to establish websites that function and look equally good – if different – on a PC, laptop, or mobile device. It’s been an interesting bit of headache-inducing complication, to be sure, but you bring up many of the laments our faculty and staff had, when we shifted from PC-only sites to mobile visualization.

    My personal belief is that WP’s Reader boils each site (really, each POST) down to its most basic elements for simplicity of scrolling, but also because readers (people, that is) have developed such a short, grab-me-now attention span. It’s part of the reason why we can now read “books” in one tab while having the game streaming in another, Mom chatting in Skype in another, and a linked game of Mahjong in yet another. Supposedly, it makes us more productive. 😉

    For those blogs I just want to glance at, I don’t mind using the Reader. But for posts and insight and pictures I want to savor, it’s got to be laptop/PC, for me.

    I hope you find the happy medium between themes you’re looking for!

    Like

    • That WordPress! I’d already scheduled this post when I saw their announcement about the new “Related Posts” feature. “If It Ain’t Broke,” was a good link for them to choose. But I’m not so sure the other two are all that related. 😉 In fact, I know they’re not!

      It’s reassuring to hear that even web designers struggle with how things will appear on different platforms. Of course, I doubt my suggestion to stop rolling out new devices and software every few months and instead think of something that would really be an improvement would go over very well with developers or shareholders. 🙂

      At least something like how my blog looks on a phone versus a laptop is a minor technological concern. But when I think about how I’m supposed to do real work such as report writing and data analysis in the future, I get a bit worried. Windows 8 is bad enough in its approach. How much worse will it get? Some of us still need a good computing option for work more than we need social media-friendly devices and computers!

      Like

      • Just curious, JM (and, sorry if you’ve answered this before): Do you have a local version of the latest WordPress on your server, or did you just go for the domain name, while still having everything hosted at WP? I don’t think it should make a difference with the theme, but I believe certain themes open up their free CSS code if it resides on your own server.

        Yeah, Windows 8 has been a headache. 😛 What we’ve found at our institution is that students, especially undergrads, have much less issue with new operating systems every 12-18 months…because that’s what they’re used to. It’s our staff and faculty who get more grumble-y about the near-constant updates. 😉

        Like

        • I just went for the domain name and left everything on WordPress. I did buy the CSS upgrade, but it’s probably wasted on me. I really only use it for the custom fonts, which are easy to use. If nothing else, the CSS upgrade shows me that I’d be completely lost if I went self-hosted!

          You know, an interesting study will be to see how well these younger, tech-raised kids do with new technology/constant upgrades when they hit middle age and beyond. Because I handled new versions of Windows and software packages and even new technology easily through my 20s. But I think we all reach a point where it becomes more difficult, no matter how easily it came to us before. 😉

          Like

  18. Pingback: Great Blogs and the Winner Is… | Sheila Hurst

  19. I noticed blog changes – this all looks uncluttered and professional – has nice colors but isn’t distracting and glaring. I read on laptop most of the time – phone always simplifies to fit format. (Early on I did check my blog on phone and made some adjustments.)
    People are just on the go now. The portable devices are changing everything – and people’s reading habits/attention spans now prefer quickly grazing. When I constructed websites, we had a mantra “don’t’ make the reader think” Simple and uncluttered rules now even more.
    I liked the earlier Reader “tiles” as it was faster to spot specific blogs – and easier to find where I left off reading when interrupted. 90% of the time I go to the actual blog. Unclear how Readers is counting hits and how it all affects stats. (I get daily/weekly emails for far too many blogs – but need to make sure I can keep up with everyone – Reader loses things)
    Guess, I’m pretty much of a casual blogger who just writes and reads for fun. For authors/those trying to establish a presence, it’s much harder: being aware how blogs reads in all formats, stats, and key words to get readers. NO longer enough to have command of the language, weave stories, – and even learn marketing – now new authors almost need to stay up with all the techie trends and electronic device potential/problems.
    Lot of stuff to think about in this post – great comments, too
    (and you knew that cat and deer were going to be everywhere…people are desperate to feel good about something. HA!)

    Like

    • I’m really wondering what the future holds for my professional computing needs. All this emphasis on mobility means smaller devices that are terrible for doing real work with real programs. I can’t write research reports on a tablet, even if there was decent software. Typing on those things and phones is a nightmare for me. If Windows 8 is a sign of the future, then I don’t know what the business and academic worlds are going to do!

      Those tiles were so much easier to navigate. I used to check Freshly Pressed a lot more before they made the changes. Even though I use the “new and improved?” tiles, they’re not as good as the old ones. And now they’ve recently changed the info on them again, so you can’t easily see who the blogger is. Sigh. Changes in technology and visual presentation should be for the better, not for the sake of change.

      And that’s why I still rely on daily and weekly notifications, too, instead of the Reader. I can keep track of posts more easily. With gmail’s “conversation” mode, all those notifications get wrapped up in one neat email, and when I finish with one, I can delete it, get it out of the way, and move on to the next blog. And I can come back to it later and not have to scroll through everything I’ve already read. So much better than the Reader!

      This post is my most-viewed one in ages—at least among recorded views in the stats. Who knows how the heck it really compares to others! Tagging it with “blogging” probably helped—as I bet did the subject matter. Readers seem to love posts about blogging….

      Like

  20. I noticed this too, on my mom’s kindle. She recently got a Surface, and it shows up a little better there. So far, I have rejected all smart phones and the like. I have a generic droid tablet because I refuse to spend tons of money on this stuff. I hate monthly cell phone bills, and I like to keep a land line, so I just use a disposable buy-minutes cell which equals about $15 per month. I can text, but can’t get on the internet with it. I use my tablet if I need to get online without my laptop. I actually love using my lightweight laptop and pretty much bring it with me everywhere. Thanks for sharing this info with us.

    Like

    • My smart phone is probably wishing someone else had bought it because it doesn’t get to do many of the things it’s capable of. 😉 My carrier is probably wishing the same thing because I signed up for the smallest data package it offers. The tablet is okay for some stuff, but I really prefer a physical keyboard for typing. And most of what I do involves real, “work-type” programs—not games and video or music streaming. So touch screens really aren’t an attraction for me. But I’m clearly not the audience of choice for many marketers. Like you, I’ll be sticking with a laptop as long as I can. I just hope there will be a better operating system than Windows 8 when I next need a new computer!

      Like

    • I’m really happy that so many readers are looking at the original blog sites. I really enjoy seeing that side of a blogger’s personality—and the posts are so much easier to read! 🙂

      Like

    • I don’t mind change when it’s for the better or makes something complex easier to do. But so many of our technological changes really have no purpose other than planned obsolescence. And they’re not as good as what came before. Maybe wanting quality over flash makes me old-fashioned. If so, then so be it!

      Like

      • I’m with you on this subject. Recently a graphic software I use all the time opted to stop selling the software per se and renting in monthly or annually instead. Really annoying process with no benefit to the user whatsoever. I’ll get my picket sign and meet you on the corner. 🙂

        Like

  21. I don’t use the WP reader, except for an occasional search on a particular topic.
    I did notice your changes when I hopped over here today and think it’s very tasteful.
    I think the best we can do is try to make the experience pleasant, however people choose to visit.

    Like

    • I agree wholeheartedly about making the experience pleasant. Even if some readers never see the full site, it’s still there if they ever do drop in. And I’m pleasantly surprised to be reading these comments and seeing how many people do visit the original sites. Maybe mobile devices won’t take over the world as quickly as I’ve feared!

      Like

Comments are closed.