Proto. Type. (cont’d) Messing with WordPress themes

Back at hacking around my prototype for the next iteration of popping-the-lid off of the course MSLOC 430. I can point you to msloc430.net – the work in progress – but just be warned that it changes a lot. And all the photography used on the site is simply placeholding.

I spent a wee bit of time searching through WordPress themes and landed (temporarily) on the free version of Sento. Finding a suitable theme is something of a challenge and that led me to this point, trying to articulate what it is I am looking for. It was actually really helpful to mess around with several themes to see how they played out.

So here goes. All recommendations and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

The course structure:

  • I’m landing on having syndicated feeds of 1) “enrolled” student blogs 2) “open participant” blogs 3) Diigo bookmarks and 4) Twitter (course hashtag)
  • I need some place on the home page to briefly set the context for what the whole course is about and how to participate in it. Sento gives me a little space under the sliders to do that and to add a button for an action – I chose “add your blog” – or just a link to some other page. That works.
  • I’d also prefer some space to highlight other items. These could be static or dynamic – links to key pages, announcements, featured posts. Sento has a static section to do that (three featured items, below the slider). Works ok. Would have to think about how I create other pages that these sections point to…or how I might use them to highlight featured posts.
  • I DO want to feature specific posts. And you can do that with Sticky posts, as one option.
  • I am ok with the current design choice I made to place the blog posts on the front page – rather than just a static page. But I think I could go either way. Would be great to have at least some featured content (blog posts) on the home page.
  • Overall – I think about the home page as an orienting space for both “enrolled” students and open participants. And since this will be an open, on-going active site, the home page will have to be structured to play that orientation role well.

My general design sensibilities:

  • Readability is big for me. So fonts and spacing are important. Overall  – clean, minimal, light design.
  • I lean toward more of a business look-and-feel – partly my own preference, but also because the people who are taking the course are organizational professionals (mostly corporate).
  • Sento has sliders – and sliders are not really a huge deal for me. But I do like the flexibility to mess with images as a key part of the design – it’s an area I’d like to work on more. My work will always be text-heavy, so figuring out a way to add more visual appeal through images is key.

My general functional preferences:

  • The theme should be responsive – adaptable to mobile and tablet.
  • In general – I don’t want to code. 🙂 So I am looking for a theme that provides theme options that allow easy manipulation of site design and functions.