WordPress blog custom design

Edit: The blog layout has changed for the better from when this post was first written. Head to the blog design evolution post to see some examples and read about the thoughts behind each alteration.

Today’s post will be a slightly different one. This post will describe and explain some of the design decision that I took developing this blog theme. I asked several people to come and look at the blog from a design standpoint. If you are one of them, thank you and welcome.

To set the record straight I had some help implementing it, a young developer I hired on the internet, he is a developer not a graphic designer but he gave some great input non the less. I thank him for that. By the way I’m not a graphic designer either.

The main goal of this post is not for me to describe the blog design in details but to give you some information in order to receive some useful feedback. I would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and critiques. You can do it by mailing me, via twitter, or even better directly in the comments section. The comment section will allow for a better discussion between me, you and other guests.

In real life I’m a minimalist, not an extreme one, but one nonetheless. My personal minimalism is fueled by the efficiency off less. I hate clutter but I want everything to remain functional. This is not something easy to balance. I tried my best with this blog design.

This blog is based on the WordPress content management system. I wanted to retain all WordPress functionality avoiding the unnecessary. I had to work with and around some constraints here after listed.

  • I wanted to design and develop a custom WordPress theme
  • I wanted the comments to be powered by Disqus, and I wanted Disqus to blend in as much as possible. I believe Disqus to be a better solution than WordPress built-in commenting system.
  • I wanted people to be able to receive mail updates, I know that a lot of you prefer mailing lists over RSS feeds.
  • I wanted the focus to be on posts
  • I wanted the blog to be  readable with no custom layout even on a mobile device
  • I wanted links in post to be easily recognisable

I had to resist the urge to hide additional information like: publication date, author name, categories, and tags, because all those information are useful for navigation. In the current layout I managed to move them on the margins living the main column for title and text only. The main text has a bigger font size than all related content and less relevant content also sports a subdued tone.

Column width is set to a small enough size so that reading is facilitated. When you read very long columns your eyes have trouble keeping the correct line and reading is slowed down. It is no coincidence that news papers are printed in multiple small columns.

I decided against pictures, boxes, lines and colors, instead I decided to work with fonts. Although most people will not notice this a lot of work has gone into font alignment and spacing.

After dismissing some good alternatives I decided on Helvetica as the main font, although not web safe it is a largely available font that reads quite well. Since Helvetica might be a little bit boring I decided to condense the letter spacing a bit on headers and sub headers.

The blog name and most of the captions in the picture are in Futura, I really like that font I find it beautiful and in the logo I really like how the Vs in virviri taper at the bottom. Below you can follow the Vir Viri logo evolution. Yes, there is some Times New Roman in the logo, I believe it contrast quite well, and adds a little bit of a classic vibe that ties in with the main blog idea. If you don’t know this blog already read the about section and my first post.

Blog Design: Vir Viri Logo evolution

I believe good design is in the little details. Have you noticed there is a 0.2 second transition on every hover action? For example on links. Note that older browser might not support this feature.

The first feedback is from the guy who implemented the custom template, he believes that this blog needs a sidebar for usability, he hates the fact that I decided against it and I hid the menu in the footer. We almost had a fight on this point. I decided for a cleaner look but I’m open to change the layout if enough of you sides with him. I really hope not.

Let me know what do you think about the blog design, all kind of feedback is highly appreciated. Thank you!

Robert K.