Versatile Changes For Your Theme

Versatile Changes For Your Theme

First off, I'd like to thank Luna for inspiring me with this idea. She once asked me how I always manage to modify my blog theme and make it look like I just purchased a new theme when I didn't. Here's the thing: I'm stingy when it comes to buying themes. I never bought a $20 theme because my budget will always revolve around $10-15 ones on Etsy. But I've found some ways on how to fake a new theme and hopefully, some of you might benefit from the tips I'm about to share with you.

Choose a multipurpose theme with features you can modify and/or delete

A multipurpose, flexible theme doesn't necessarily mean one that is labelled as a "blog magazine" theme. Some flexible theme features include sidebars (left/right sidebar or both), scrolling banners, fluid galleries (also known as masonry grid) and custom input fields usually used to subscribe or follow by email. The key point here is not to purchase a theme with features that were never there but to get one with features you can delete yourself. Instead of thinking "I don't want this feature", think about "I want this feature so I can delete it." Of course, if you are unsure whether or not the theme you're about to purchase is modifiable or not then definitely ask the creator or shop owner (if purchased from sites like Etsy.)

Change your layout structure

This may differ depending on whether your theme is custom made or a purchased one but the basic concept stays the same. If you're bored with a sidebar, remove it and vice versa if you're bored of single post arrangement. Likewise, play around with your content wrapper size, margin, padding and content width. For example, my images will always be wider than my body paragraph and the overall container of my content is set to 1000px wide. Instead of thinking that your theme structure has to stay the same, take a step back and see which part can be added, removed and/or modified. Think of it like lego blocks that you can mix and match.

Colours and fonts

I cannot stress this enough. Colours make a huge difference on the overall look. The most common thing people would go for is to use black and grey on white font. It's minimalist, they say. It's true but it's definitely not the only way to make your blog looks clean, professional and polished. While I still love black on white as a classic, I've been into using coloured background more than I used to. Instead of using completely white / #FFFFFF background, try pale, dusty or muted colours from the white and beige family. For accent colours or links, don't be afraid to go bright. Use red, oranges or even greens, blues and purples because sometimes they work. Adding a border on your text link or around the "read more" button helps too. Another fun experiment to try would be to use subtle gradients, which usually work on a pure #FFFFFF white background. As of last year, gradients are famous to form accents in borders, dividers and footer or navigation background. Likewise, always experiment around on fonts, particularly when it comes to differentiating font sizes for heading title, post title, meta and labels.

Your theme is made of lego bricks

Think of your theme as a framework made of bricks mixed and matched to form a final structure. Instead of accepting and using your theme as it is, take a step back and think about restructuring the components to form a new framework? The key is to make people think they are looking at a new layout when in reality, they're seeing a new structure — think of this as drawing an eye trick. This, however, requires you to look at things from a different perspective which is why as much as I want to provide a preset solution, there is none. Creativity is what breeds new ideas.

Communicate with your friendly theme owner/creator

This may not be something related to creativity or finding ways to restructure your layout framework but this is definitely something that compliment all the other tips above. If you, like me, purchase your theme via Etsy or other sites, make sure the person you are buying themes from is ready to assist and help customize things based on your needs. It'd be best if the theme comes with free installation and is responsive by default so you don't have to pay extra for any add-ons. My personal favorite is Fearne Design, an Etsy store managed by Eve who is extremely helpful and friendly despite how fickle I am with my customization. Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't buy themes from stores who offer installation as additional add-on; I'm saying that you can save some cash (around $5~10) by finding one with free installation and customization help.

In case you're too lazy to read everything, the key here is to look at your theme structures from a different perspective. Remove what can be removed, play around with some spaces, margins and padding; change the colour palette, experiment with different font size, weight and styles. Do keep in mind that these do not apply to major changes and by major I'm referring to things like "clicking a post thumbnail instead of a read more button in order to read the post" because this is the kind of change that will reformulate the flow of your theme.

If you have more tips from your side, do share them in the comments below!