I need two things from a theme. First, it must be responsive. I refuse to put a huge amount of effort into a website only to have it ruined by a treacherously tiny screen. Second, it needs to accommodate a custom header image. A talented artist is contributing her talents to Moonshine Publications—one of the few advantages we have starting out—and I want to utilize her skills to the fullest.
First, I looked at the Photolia theme. It’s clean, like most responsive themes, and features a huge customizable banner. Unfortunately, Photolia is designed to present beautiful images rather than text–I found its typography a bit plain. Pages with infinite scroll are also a pet peeve of mine. I passed on Photolia because I didn’t feel it was a perfect match for Moonshine, and if I’m going to shell out $75 for a theme, it needs to be perfect.
Second, I tried Pilcrow. Pilcrow shares many of Photolia’s features, but is not designed specifically with images in mind. I like its typography—the font reminds me of an old typewriter. Unfortunately, Pilcrow has few customization options, even for a free theme. I don’t like the blue space it puts around posts, nor do I like the look of its comment and meta data areas. It also drives me slightly crazy that the header text is right-aligned. In the end, more and more aspects of Pilcrow displeased me, leaving me irrationally angry and swearing at my laptop. I thought it best for both of us if we parted ways.
Finally, I settled on the Parabola theme by Cryout Creations. It’s clean, highly customizable, and free. It also starts with a ‘p,’ which is apparently a prerequisite for my theme choices. If you can’t change what you want via the many options presented in the WordPress user interface, you can tweak the theme’s code in Editor after a bit of php research. (I promise said research causes only a mild headache—I got rid of mine with a judicious application of bunny snuggles.) After some tweaking, our website is starting to take shape. It’s true that it lacks some of the sparkly qualities of some established websites I looked at. However, I think the banner and font are interesting enough to give it the quirky feel I was looking for, while the clean design helps to avoid the dreaded self-published look.