New Coat of Paint at the Lab

A New Coat of Paint For a New Look and Feel

A New Coat of Paint For a New Look and Feel

If you have been poking around the Lab the last couple of days you probably noticed it looked a little different. I hope you noticed the difference.

When I started Lab back in December 2006 I chose the Cutline theme and stuck with it.   I know it is rare to do so.   I’ve changed themes on several of the other blogs and I’m always tweaking them with additional features and plugins.   But the theme at the Lab has remained the same till yesterday.

Magazine Style Themes

I’ve never been able to grasp the magazine style of navigation.   Most of the time when a blog moves to it, I quite reading simply because   I can’t find the latest post.   But I like the look of some of them but when I started to tweak them I found most were very limited in the way they handled images and how large they could be displayed in a post (usually very small images are all that will work).

I also found most had to have very short Post titles and Category names had to be fewer than 20 characters.   This is one thing often frustrating about theme designers.   They have a test database set up with one word categories and a few short post titles and then build their theme around it.   Then when someone uses that theme with an existing robust blog it looks HORRIBLE.

One last thing, if you are designing or modifying a theme, I would recommend you do what I did when working on this one.   Take an existing blog and export the blog then import it to your test blog.   I did that for this theme to get it “right” for the Lab.   Now you know what it is going to look like when you put it into place and you aren’t spending hours trying to “fix” it while it is live on your site.

Existing Plugins Conflict

Anytime you make a theme change you should check all functionality of the blog.   I found several plugin were in conflict with some of the nicer functions of this theme.   I’ve decided to keep the functionality and forgo the plugins in conflict.   I hope at some time to be able to re activate some of these plugins.   Most in conflict have to do with comments.   They seem to break the navigation display at the top where the images appear.

I’m going to write a series of post this week on the process of changing to this theme.

The Magazeen Theme

The Magazeen theme is the one I chose to use for this new coat of paint.   However, let me state this right up front:

If you like the way the Lab looks and the functionality of the theme don’t expect to get it if you download and install the Magazeen theme.

This theme is the same in name only.   It has been heavily modified.   Not just the look of it, but the functionality of the theme itself.   It was an introductory theme at best (I say that because of some of the limitations).   It has good bones, but very lacking in SEO, tagging functionality, image handling (minimal to poor) and again it was made for young eyes.

I can’t even remember all the tweaks and changes I’ve made to this theme.   I’ll write about the ones I can remember this week before those memories fade as well or another project pushes this one from the front burner to cold storage (meaning they never get written.)

I’ll write in the next post what I like about this theme and some of the nice (but not obvious features)

On a different note:   The author of theme has a great post on “Taking WordPress One Step Further”   It is a great read.


  1. Do you might saying why you gave up on cutline? I was actually just about to START using cutline as I liked the look. But the material I’m trying to put together might also be better in magazine format but I TOO have given up reading blogs that converted to magazine.

    So I’m exactly in the situation you were before really, and so how/why you decided to move in this direction is of interest to me.

  2. Steve,

    I was with cutline from the beginning of this blog. It was always a good theme. Easy to make modifications and stable. Almost all plugins worked with very little need for modification.

    But it was plain. It also isn’t the easiest theme to modify significantly. If you aren’t familiar or experienced in modifying a theme and you want one that will do the job and has no hidden gotchas in the SEO of the form then you won’t go wrong with Cutline.

    I liked this theme for the look and the ease of modification. I like the fact that there are only two full posts on the homepage and then excerpts. The visual presentation with the images in the sidebar and top nav. But I had to give up some very nice plugins because of incompatibility with this theme.

    I’m desperately trying to find time to write the next post about modifications made to this theme. Enough time has passed already I’m having difficulty remembering all the things I’ve changed. There are well over 100 modifications to this theme. and a few plugins to get it to where it is now.

    In summary. If you aren’t ready or knowledgeable enough to dive in and make modifications to a theme and know you won’t hurt your web presence then think about modifications. If not, then Cutline is a great theme choice, you can’t go wrong with it.


  3. Thanks very much Dave! I think that puts my mind at rest. You have described exactly me when you say what cutline is suitable for! Something I can plug in and not worry too much about the technical things. Maybe I’ll get to that one day, but not in the near futureu I think.

  4. Hey Dave!

    I really like the paint job. Way to go. One day soon, let’s catch up on the mods that you’ve made to the magazeen theme. I have been overwhelmed with the to do list. One day, I hope to get up for air.

    More than anything, I just wanted to say “Looks great. Keep up the great work!”



  5. Eric,

    It is growing on me. I have to get the post on modifications written before I forget (LOL, forget anymore than I already have) of what I did to this theme.

    I’m struggling for the same air.


  6. Very nice Dave-
    I like it. I hadn’t been back in a couple weeks and had to double check my browser address bar to make sure I was at the right place!!