As promised, I did some WordPress.com exploration on my blogs. One of the changes I had in mind was to convert my XOXOQUILTS.COM from the Coraline theme to the Twenty-Eleven theme. At first, I loved it!
- The font is sexy.
- The header is crisp.
- The large image (1000 x 288 ) for the header – great real estate for unique images for each page and/or blog post!
I got everything set up and was really loving it, when I came to what I must admit is a deal breaker.
Individual blog posts do not have a template that allows for the widgets (images and links) to appear in the sidebar. They only show up when on the “blog” page, as shown above.
But when on an individual post (like what someone might see if they follow the link to the blog from facebook or Google Reader), the whole page is blank, except for the images and text of the specific article.
After I’d set everything up, I really hated to go backwards. I sought out the experiences of other users on the WordPress.com forum and on the WordPress.com Facebook page.
No one had a better solution – or even a realistic workaround. The reasoning was given as “faster load time,” which is fair enough, but outside the scope of my publishing concerns. At least, I don’t think there are quilting revolutionaries running around the streets using my latest quilt posts to determine sewing location, timing, and strategy! Gosh, I almost wish there were!
So… I know I can be guilty of grabbing onto a small detail and wrestling with it until it becomes a major issue. I decided rather than to keep poking at the problem, I’d let it rest over the weekend and see if I could live with the blank post template.
And you know what happened? Over the weekend, KTSeams wrote a post on the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild blog linking back to a post on my blog. Awesome, right?
But when someone followed the link, all they got was my one article… no widgets, no list of other blogs I follow, no suggestion to follow XOXO QUILTS via RSS, join me on Facebook, see images on Flickr, or join my mailing list. What if I wanted to promote an Etsy shop??
Even the links to earlier posts, rather than using the titles I so carefully craft, simply say “previous” and “next,” as if caught in some modernist, non-specific database trap.
Without those blogging and social media tools, my blog posts are less-than-viral and more like an unsigned letter that accidentally shows up in your mailbox. There’s no trail or path to let you know how to have an ongoing relationship with me or better yet, my quilts.
Interestingly enough, this has all taken me back to using the Twenty Ten theme, the default WordPress.com theme published in 2010. It has all of the functionality I’m seeking, minus a little real estate for the header image, less sexy font, and I don’t quite like the way the name of the site and the tag line are written at the top. But I can live with the aesthetic shortcomings if the function is right on.
So, I guess I’d call my test run of Twenty Eleven a research project and a lesson that can hopefully help others. And there is good news. I started monkeying around with the categories for posts, and I’m finding really exciting ways to incorporate that functionality into indexing my site.
Stay tuned… I’ll share more details soon! Or if you want a sneak preview, head over to XOXOQUILTS.COM and check out the menu dropdown for +2011 QUILTS. Let your mouse hover over the text on the menu as you explore. Pretty cool, right?