Site updates; switched themes to Headway, then Thesis

by nc on November 18, 2009 · 9 comments

As I’m sure my regular readers have noticed (and as I mentioned here), my site has undergone a redesign. Instead of having my articles sections managed via a custom (and ancient) php mini-framework that I wrote many years ago, I’ve imported everything into WordPress. This means that people can now leave comments on all pages, and that I can apply updates in a much easier way. Plus, it allows for easier site-wide changes, etc.

I decided to try out a so-called “premium” theme for WordPress, as they are supposed to have more features than the free ones (although that is debatable), and more importantly to me, it should be possible to do more things without any customization (again – my goal here is to keep it as easy as possible to maintain this site.) They are also relatively inexpensive. At first, I switched to the Headway theme, as it’s new and glitzy. However, I ran into one major annoyance (for me) – there was no easy way to add categories to the navigation menu and still have the “tab” effect work properly. This probably wouldn’t be an issue for most people, but since that’s how I was designing my navigation, well, it caused issues for me. Plus, when I attempted to upgrade to 1.5 (released a few days after the transition), I completely broke, well, everything related to the theme. At that point, I decided to call Headway quits (the author offers a 30-day money-back-guarantee, and did not give me any hassles at all to get a refund), and migrate to the tried-and-true Thesis. Its setup interface is not near as nice as Headway’s, but I managed to get it set up the way I’d like. I’m still going to be doing a lot more tweaking over time, but at least it’s getting there. ;)

Let me know what you think of the new layout.. I’m also going to try to do some photoblogging (starting with a couple more shots from the Skillet concert), so hope you enjoy!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil Barron November 18, 2009 at 11:54 am

Congrats on the switch to Thesis. Here’s your Welcome Wagon package:

Matt Langford put together a handy list of 100 Resources for Thesis Wordpress Theme Users.

Most resources I would suggest are on that list, but this one isn’t: the #thesiswp Twitter hashtag. Tune in often.

If you have questions, stop by the DIY Themes forums.

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nc November 18, 2009 at 11:58 am

Thanks for the welcome wagon! ;) D’oh on the Twitter tag – I just used #thesis, heh! Will have to follow #thesiswp ;)

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Danny Brown November 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Hi Nate,

Sorry to hear of your issues. Did you check in with the forum?

Although you can do what you’re trying to do very easily, especially with the new 1.5. And when you upgraded, did you use the 1.0 to 1.5 plug-in available as a download next to the Headway 1.5 theme in the members area? As it is explained in there that you need to use this first, just to ensure no problems.

Just a heads-up that all your queries/needs are available on Headway, and very easy to do.

Enjoy Thesis! :)

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nc November 18, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Hey Danny!

I did not try the forums, I did email Headway’s support address, and they told me how to do a ‘URL Forward’, but that didn’t get the tab highlighting working.. they said there was nothing built in to support it, and it’d require hacking (with this version.)

I did also use the upgrade plugin; what happened is I had two copies of every leaf for 1.5, and some missing stuff (sidebar content, etc.) I’m sure I did something out of order to break it; I was in a hurry! ;)

I do plan on trying out Headway again once it’s matured a bit.. for being a relatively new theme, it is quite nice already.

Thanks for the comment!

-Nate

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Cynthia LaLuna November 18, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Hi Nate,

As someone who designs/builds on both Thesis and Headway, it’s always good to see the details that drive users back and forth from one to the other – my needs/specifications differ from many end-users.

One comment on your basic Thesis layout, so far – it’s too wide for many monitors. I’m viewing it on my 15″ laptop while away from home, running 1280 x 700, and can’t quite see the whole thing. Since most Thesis layouts are fixed-width without major hacks (I’d love to see someone make one dynamic), I try to make sure I stick within 960 px wide – that way the 30% of the market still using 1024 x- 768 can be sure to see your site without sideways scrolling. Also keep in mind that Thesis’ automatic padding adds 44-66 pixels, depending upon a 2-3 column layout – so when choosing pixel widths in the design panel, I try to keep the sum of the entries there at or under 900 total to allow for the padding.

Just my $.02 – go forth and prosper!

Cynthia

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nc November 18, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Hey Cynthia!

Very much appreciate the comments! I’d also love to see a dynamic-width Thesis – I was debating on Atahualpa for awhile, and really liked it’s dynamic width support. I’ve adjusted the width down a bit; my lowest-resolution display is 1680×1024, and I -always- forget about lower-res displays, so thanks for the reminder! Now it’s quite viewable at 1024×768 — still scrolls a little bit (my total adds up to 940), but the important content is all there.. do you agree? (I try to keep my main column as wide as possible to make for easy reading.)

Thanks for lookin’! ;)

-Nate

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Peter November 18, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I’m a thesis user, and I love it (i think you knew that already), but from what I understand both themes really do have their high points. Through my logo design site I know people who love them both and swear by them. I don’t think you can go wrong with either one really. It may just come down to personal preference – and from what I can understand – in thesis you may need to you be a bit more technical sometimes (although it’s rumored that 2.0 release should make thesis even easier).

So where are you going to get your custom header and background for your thesis installation?

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nc November 18, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Header? Background? What do those words mean?? ;)

(Yeah, I should probably chat with’ya at some time about that.)

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Moi November 11, 2010 at 8:44 am

I’m trying to decide between Thesis and Headway.

Headway has a “slick” interface but it’s also bulky. The leafs are nice but also a little awkward. When you double-click on the leaf title to change the name, it’s hard to manage when the text is four letters because the GUI is blocking access. It’s possible to do, of course, after several attempts but the GUI should be rearranged to make it easier and more convenient.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have to be more technical with Thesis because a true web designer should know their way around CSS, etc. at least a little and not fake it.

Anyway, it’s always interesting to read what others have to say.

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