Pied Type has a new look — again — and the simple explanation is the lady changed her mind. But there’s more to it than that.
The dark Choco theme is warm and cozy. It focuses attention on the posts by treating everything else with brown tones. But its limitations frustrated me. Dark themes can seem depressing, stifling, and closed in, especially if you’re in a spring mood. But worse, Choco doesn’t accommodate a custom header where I can add my personal touch. I thought I could overlook that since the title font I’d been using was a common one, but ultimately that wasn’t enough. My number one criterion is a customizable header, the only way to distinguish my blog from all the others.
The theme you see now is “Under the Influence” and has been available for quite a while. I just hadn’t explored its options enough to realize what I could do with it. Obviously it is lighter, brighter, and more open than Choco. It offers a choice of two columns or three, with adjustable widths for each; both a default and a customizable header; and an unlimited choice of colors for the title and decorative details.
I opted for two columns because I prefer quiet pages — simple, uncluttered, easily comprehensible. The trade-off here is that the main column is quite wide, wider than an easily readable column should be (the rule of thumb I learned for optimal readability is 2½ to 3 alphabets, or 60 to 72 characters, per line), but for the moment I like the look. The theme default is justified paragraphs (type aligned evenly on both margins); this makes for beautiful, rectangular blocks of type. Unfortunately, justification is achieved by adding word spacing within the line, something I find very distracting. The irregular spacing is less noticeable in wider measures, but usually I just eliminate the problem by using left-aligned “rag right” text.
Also, I’ve finally figured out how to incorporate Typekit fonts (see the colophon in the lower right corner of the browser window). That means I can use a lot of fonts that normally aren’t available for websites. Fonts help determine the readability, personality, and overall tone of a page; they can be clean, efficient, and modern; traditional and warm; quirky and unusual.
I’m still debating whether to add an image to the header; I’ve had several ideas but am concerned they’ll just add clutter. Besides, I rather like the clean bookish look. Maybe I’m “reverting to type”; back in the ’80s and ’90s, my journal was praised for its clean, “bookish” appearance.
Anyway, that’s my rationale for the moment. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind tomorrow.
Update, March 24: Another deal-breaker with the Choco theme was that a post’s complete dateline appeared only at the end of the posts. I, for one, want to know when something was written before I read it. If it’s not current, it may be irrelevant, and I won’t waste my time with it.