Is Rams the ideal blog layout?

Maybe you hadn’t noticed, but early December WordPress has released a new version (4.1) of its bloggers platform. As usual, they used this upgrade to also introduce a new default blog layout: Twenty Fifteen.

On the blog of Ernst-Jan Pfauth I read that he looks forward to this new layout because he finds Twenty Fourteen a bit too dark in color setting. I agree with him. But that’s not what I want to discuss today. For me it’s another remark he makes:

Earlier this year I ditched my handmade theme, because there just wasn’t a way to keep up with all the requirements that come with people using hundreds of different screens for accessing your blog.

I mean, I love to geek around with WordPress Themes and CSS, but doing it just as a hobby isn’t enough anymore to guarantee every visitor of my blog a good experience.

Now I can’t say that I have a handmade theme. To do so I lack the knowledge and skills of HTML / CSS / etcetera. However, I recognize as someone who likes to play around with the many blog themes available for WordPress that it becomes very hard to nearly impossible to create something which give all of your visitors the same look and feel, regardless of the the devices they use.

Moreover, it seems that the ideal layout does not exist. Or at least for me remains hidden. Always there seems to be a shortcoming that I, at best, can almost solve with a plugin or by changing code in the php and css files. Almost, but not quite. At worst I’m not able to solve it all and have to live with it. What I manage to do for several days. Until the growing annoyance makes me decide to start looking for a replacement theme where this disturbing element no longer reveals.

But where another flaw is introduced. And we’re back to start all over again.

Ernst-Jan has given up. He chooses to settle for the default layouts WordPress has available. I tend to follow in his footsteps. That’s why I installed Twenty Fifteen yesterday afternoon to give it a try.

I loved it for fifteen minutes. In that period  I didn’t succeed to change the insanely large font that is used for block quotes in to a format that seems more normal. Disappointed I put the Charlene theme back.

Then I remembered having read an interview with Anders Norén who referred to a theme he had made which seems to have many similarities as compared with the Twenty Fifteen theme still under development around that time:

Norén seems to be equipped with a never-ending fountain of inspiration for new themes. His Rams theme, which bears a few similarities to the upcoming Twenty Fifteen default theme, was inspired by Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer who is well known for his innovative, unobtrusive, and timeless product design.

Maybe the blockquotes were better designed within the Rams theme, I thought and started to install it:

That was late last night.

What are my findings so far. To begin with Rams is very minimal. This not only applies to the design, but also to the settings. Apart from the standard color scheme that is green but can be changed, there is nothing to adjust. Oh of course, the menu you can change as well. But that’s it. You have to do with what you get. And what you get is very good when you ask me.

The left sidebar shows only the menu, and more importantly, does not scroll but has a fixed position. I think it’s very restful. Although the default green color is debatable I have decided to keep it this way. Because when you change the color it also automatically updates the color of hyperlinks in the text.

As you probably understand by now the blockquotes are matching my taste otherwise I would not have written this blog post at all. Nowadays, you usually see a vertical line in order to distinguish a blockquote from the rest of the text. That is not the case with Rams. Norén has chosen to use the quotation icon. It’s not my preference, but for now I leave it like this.

Compared with the Twenty Fifteen theme the left sidebar is really far left, making sure that on a big screen, the attention stays focused on the text and the sidebar more or less disappears from view. Which is another subtle difference which I like. Same thing with the meta-data at the bottom of the blog post. Default this is hidden but can be accessed by clicking on the ‘hamburger’ icon. Again a choice for focus on the text and no distraction.

All in all I am much more satisfied with Rams than with Twenty Fifteen. Contrary to all the previous layouts I used there is no need so far to change code, install additional plugins or any other fine-tuning. Could it be that the ideal blog layout for me really exist? Or am I just in a generous mood now I have a few days of vacation?

[Lees in het Nederlands]

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3 reacties op “Is Rams the ideal blog layout?”

    1. Ga je gang en steel ‘m maar, zou ik zeggen.
      Waarom bij de preview een kleine letter verschijnt begrijp ik niet. Heb dat zelf niet gehad. Misschien gewoon even activeren en dan bekijken. Kun je daarna toch weer gewoon terugdraaien.
      Heb je ook Twenty Fifteen bekeken? Die heeft wat meer mogelijkheden zoals bijvoorheeld een header foto. Dat heeft Rams niet.

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