Oxygen, some fresh air for Pied Type

footprints

Pied Type is moving on. Theme-wise, that is. Say goodbye to WordPress’s The Morning After and hello to Oxygen.

I’ve long fought the urge to change themes, but not because I didn’t like TMA. It stood the test of time. I used it for more than two years, far longer than any other theme I’ve tried. But periodically I just need a breath of fresh air, a new toy to play with.

Oxygen happens to be one of WordPress’s “responsive” themes, meaning it will readily adapt to the smaller mobile screens being used by more and more readers. But that’s not why I chose it. I just like its contemporary look, its clean grid design, its dynamic slider feature.

So far I’ve not discovered a feature I don’t like and/or can’t change with CSS, but that could still happen. It takes time to ferret out that one detail that drives me to abandon a theme. I may, for example, get worn down by the fact that for a post to appear in the slider, which one logically expects to be the newest posts, its featured image must be at least 750 pixels. That’s a big image. I often don’t choose images that large. Yet now I must if I want the post to show up in the slider. (Those big images will gobble up more of my free media storage, too.)

backwardsquote
The backwards quotation mark as it appears today in “Violence is not a solution.”

I have mixed feelings about the narrower measure for posts. The text area in The Morning After was some 700 pixels wide, far wider than the optimum for good readability (2.5 alphabets, or about 65 characters, is old rule I was taught), but great for displaying beautiful images, pull quotes, double columns, etc. In time I may discover the narrower measure is just too restrictive. It will undoubtedly break many of my post layouts that depended on a measure greater than Oxygen’s 450 pixel maximum and that may well be the deal breaker.

I’ve already found one detail that will drive me nuts until I either fix or remove it — perhaps with an assist from one of the CSS geniuses in the WP forums. The ornamental quotation mark that’s used with Oxygen’s block quotes is backwards. It’s a close quote and it should be an opening quote. Those WP theme designers must hate my niggling and nit-picking, but gosh darn it, don’t give an editor the wrong quotation mark!

There are three different menu options with Oxygen. You’ll notice the bar at the top of the page is now categories only. My About page, contact form, and other administrative and guide pages are in a mouseprint menu at the bottom of the page.

No doubt there will be lots of tinkering and tweaking in the days and weeks to come. Rearranging elements. Changing fonts and colors. Adding or deleting things. And who knows, one day I may just throw up my hands in exasperation and go back to The Morning After. I saved all my CSS, just in case.

18 comments

  1. First it’s a good look – fits your style. Will work better on mobile devices (something worth considering) but it does have narrow text area – all you can do is drive it for a bit and see how it goes.
    Like the way it has 2 sets of post options….the picture by the featured post is nice, but the chopping/size thing may end up forcing you to fit their size frame?
    That quote symbol is irritating…but maybe it was placed that way as a design element to curve your eye into the quote where if placed accurately, your eye would bounce off it back to the main text box/the curve could send your eye away from the quote box….design over accurate mechanical function? (Let’s not let a little traditional print/writing “rule” get in the way…who follows those anyway?)
    It’s supposed to be a symbol indicating a quote is there – and they didn’t want to put a real quotation mark after it? Clutter up the design?
    Be interested in WP response/thought process.
    Great quote, by the way. Would like an answer to that one, too.
    But, yea! change is good

    1. Ah, but they do add a small close quote. So the big one is functional as well as decorative — and therefore wrong.

      Test drive is well under way and I’ve got some fixin’ to do. On the other hand, I cannot scroll back through 2,000+ posts and fix everything. Changing themes can be hazardous and I may well conclude I’m locked into The Morning After.

      Actually you did reply to that quotation at the time it was published. But feel free to add to your comment (which also suffers from this narrower measure, although somewhat improved with less nesting).

      1. Thought it all looked familiar.
        Yeah, that close quote bugged me, too – either do it right or don’t. Bet it’s a “design” element decision – which bugs me even more – they knew and chose…
        Everyone seems to be changing themes…either new for the new year, or stuck inside – actually your motivation for smaller screens is the most reasonable one. Stay warm up there!

      2. Correction. The small close quote was already there to close the shorter internal quote. I checked several other block quotes, and the theme only adds the large ornamental (backwards!) quotation mark.

  2. Looks good at first glance PT. I hope it works well enough for you so you don’t have to change again anytime soon. The Oxygen theme is one of those I looked real hard before ultimately going with Expound last year. The narrow body width and 750px minimum featured image width were the main reasons why I didn’t go with it.

    Oddly enough, we both have a similar complaint with our new choices: the way they handle quotes. I, like you I assume, wanted a graphical quotation mark to be displayed. You don’t like your quote backwards and I don’t like mine stretched to the left edge of the body column…

    1. That 750px featured image really hurts. Especially when it’s only displayed at that size with a headline through the middle of it. Then when you get to the post, it’s squeezed into a narrow measure where readers will have to click on it to see it large again.

      I could live without the big quotation mark, and I can get rid of it with CSS. Too bad. It’s such a nice touch … when it’s done correctly.

      I looked closely at Expound when it was released. I forget now why I passed on it.

  3. It’s very airy indeed! Not sure I’ll ever give up vigilance. I like playing with the colors too much. It’s retired, so once I use something else, there’s no going back.

    1. I used Vigilance for a while and thought it was great. The color options were a lot of fun for those not wanting to pay for the custom upgrade. I’ve never understood their discontinuing it. There are so many others that should have been dumped instead.

  4. Granted the Google Hummingbird algorithm results do point to the fact that optimized larger images are better for SEO but I’m not into them. Your posts are primarily text based like mine and like you I’m not into great big featured images. I’m glad you changed from Oxygen to Opti. Oxygen is IMHO too busy. The posting column as you have noted is too narrow for my taste and there just too much on the front page to suit me ie. too many columns that too much create distraction and confusion about where the most recent posts are found. As for the most popular posts, I rarely look for them on any blog I’m already following like yours. But when it comes to me visiting a new blog, featuring popular posts on the front page is a good way to get me to click and check out blog content.

    1. I love a big image when it’s a great photograph or something that really begs for the large size. But I don’t usually need or want them that large.

      Like you, I hardly ever look at the home pages of blogs I follow. I click straight through to the latest post. But newcomers may, I hope, check out the home page to see what the blog is about, so a good presentation is important. After all, we never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

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