Karma and My Blog’s Theme Review

It is surprising how Karma works sometimes, when I wrote my Runners Have You Really Looked at Your Blog Lately last Saturday night, I didn’t realize how much that I would be talking about myself.  After a couple of people asked me to take a look at their blog, I thought that I better take a look at my own first.

I had recently switched back to an old theme that I really, really liked because the one I was using had a fatal flaw that I couldn’t correct. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about the old theme’s fatal flaw – the page links did not work correctly.

This is the problem that I find with more than a few of the free Blogger templates that I have downloaded and tried – something usually doesn’t work or is missing and I don’t have the knowledge or ability to fix what is wrong. That is also why I seem to keep changing my blog themes so often. I know just enough to be dangerous.

So if you had been to my blog and attempted to go to any of the pages lately and couldn’t – I apologize.

Looking at My Own Blog

I might just as well put my money where my mouth is and review my own blog and reveal all of its warts – that I can see.

This is what is above the fold when my blog was first opened to do my review.
Overall First Impression
Boring is the first word that I use. Yes it has clean lines, but it is pretty evident that this is one of the Google themes that has been customized a little bit. It doesn’t have that “look” that sets it apart from other blogs. The theme is boxy and too square.

I will probably be looking for a better looking Blogger theme that works, unless Google gets going on their Dynamic views and gives us the ability to have sidebars with those themes. Like most everyone I don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on a premium theme, so I do have to find one for free that everything works correctly.

Header
The header does not line-up like it is supposed to. The pictures are blurry instead of being crisp, the tagline is not current – it should read “Keep smiling and good things can happen :-)”.  To be honest this header is hastily put together and looks it. The header needs to be changed to something cleaner, so until I can create a header that looks great, I will leave it plain gray, which looks better than a bad header.
Readability
Good – Black lettering on white background
Color Scheme
Gray, white, dark blue, they all seem to work together, but the theme seems a bit dark. Probably need to lighten it up.
Post area
  • Adsense ad at the top has gotten a few clicks, so I want to leave that there. I really like a magazine style landing/home page, but unfortunately this template you have to manually create the page breaks to achieve this effect.
  • I don’t like the social media widget on the landing page, it is great for the post page, but would like to option of whether to show or not on front page – in my opinion it makes the landing page look cluttered.
  • Reduce the number of posts that are visible to correspond to the sidebars, so there is not a lot of empty space as the reader scrolls down.
  • Move the Amazon widget to the bottom post area, to present a cleaner look at the bottom of the blog.
Left Sidebar
  • Recent Picture – Personally, I believe that readers want to see the blogger(s) and that having your picture or an image that depicts you helps. This to me, gives the readers a quick sense of who the blogger is and if they are who they say they are and walk the walk, not just talk about it. Yes pictures can be doctored or look nothing like the actual person, but after a while, if the writer is not who they say they are, it gets figured out.
  • a quick blurb to let readers know what to expect when reading AVR.
  • an Adsense widget
  • 3 buttons of things that I belong to or am doing (when the doing is over, the button will be retired to a page that I am creating for that purpose).
  • DailyMile training widget – which helps remind me to log my run there and also lets readers know that I am still running. Just another way to show you are walking the walk. Also the edges of the widget are outside of the sidebar.
  • Popular Posts for the past 30 days – give the readers an opportunity to look at some of my other more popular posts.
  • Blog Archive – if a reader wants to quickly go back and see other posts that I have written. I have room to expand this to the open position and might do that now.

Right Sidebar

  • Search this blog widget – some users might use this if they are searching for a particular subject on my blog, put it up where it can quickly be found,
  • Contact me by email: I use Kontactr because it is easy to use and free. I don’t like publishing my email on my site if I don’t have to, this cuts down on spam emails. There are other email services you can use.
  • Follow me widgets for the social media sites that I participate on – unfortunately these are separate widgets for following me via RSS, Email Google Friend Connect, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.  I would prefer to have an all in one widget that looks better than a bunch of separate widgets. This is on my todo list.
  • Adsense widget – I have 4 ads on my blog and haven’t tried to over do them.
  • Blogs I Follow – I think it is important to share those blogs that you enjoy reading with others, not all the “experts” agree with this, but my blog my choice.
  • Feedjit widget – I enjoy seeing where people are coming from and when they were here, just me being nosy.  I decided to not use the popular world maps widget, since it didn’t really tell me a whole lot that Feedjit doesn’t.

Bottom Widget bar

I have to clean this area up, it is a place where I dump widgets I am not sure of keeping or are not working correctly and I need to fix them for my blog or widgets that I just can’t think where they actually belong end up here.

That was a quick review of my blog theme. I have a lot of work todo!  I am not crazy about the theme, but everything works and that is important. I have to figure out if I can live with this theme, until the sidebar is available in Dynamic Views themes or do I just go out and look for a great theme for Blogger?  Any suggestions?

The reality is that

everyone has their idea of what makes a great looking blog and what widgets you have in your sidebar. There is a great deal of personal choice in setting up your blog. However, if I hadn’t taken my own advice and gone through my blog to make sure that everything worked, I would still have a theme up that frustrates my readers when they clicked on the pages.

Todos

After doing this review I can see somethings that need to be improved, changed or gotten rid of.

  • Look at other 3 column themes
  • While I have this theme change the background page and borders, so it flows better and doesn’t look as boxy.
  • Create an appealing header
  • Fix DailyMile widget
  • Get rid of the 3 on the Google+ widget
  • Find an all in one follow-me widget that I like
  • Clean up the bottom widget area.

What did I miss?

This is your change to tell me thing you don’t like about this theme and offer come constructive criticism or welcome advice on things that a reader of this blog you would like to see me improve in my theme.

If you go back and look at your theme, did you find anything that didn’t work, you didn’t really like or just didn’t fit the direction you are going. Do your own blog review and then link back here, so we can see the improvements we are making in our blogs.

Thanks 🙂

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