A Fresh, New Look

A fresh perspective deserves a fresh, new look. In July 2010, I designed a personalized desk theme for It’s All a Matter of Perspective in favor of a sleek, premium Theme Foundry theme I extensively customized by−changing it to purple. Purple is one of my favorite colors, but not the only one. It fit me like an itchy, wool sweater that’s a size too small−which is to say that I got lots of compliments on it, but it wasn’t comfy. It wasn’t “me.”

And so, I took the plunge and invested in Elegant Themes. I now have access to about 79 different premium themes, all cleanly designed and sporting some pretty nifty features. I like exactly three of them. I liked one other, and would have chosen it as the basis for this blog, but it had some weird behavioral issues, like cramped fonts and no spacing between body text and the headers that followed. I was disappointed, but I figured if it took me more than a day to wrestle it into submission it was going to be a complete life suck, so I stopped fighting and started trying on different themes.

I wanted my theme to be customizable, fast, simple, and inviting. I did not want it to be ordinary, staid, and boring. This one, BOLD, seemed a bit moody, with its brooding, dark clouds. But it had a canvas texture that suggested “artistic” and “creative,” and I like moody, dark clouds. But this renaissance of Fresh Perspectives is meant to be a warm, inviting, hopeful place for friends, not some dark and stormy glimpse into the mind of a writer struggling with her inner demons or something.

I downloaded the graphics and added layers of sunshine and a rainbow−yes, the one at the bottom is meant to be a rainbow, though its green, blue, and ultraviolet bands are hidden behind the clouds in the foreground, and that makes absolutely no logical sense−so let’s just say it’s sunset over the Atlantic Ocean, a nod to my Piscean home. I muted the background colors a bit more to make the warmth of the sun chase away the gray chill of the clouds. Then I added a little bonsai tree. The original thought was to add a beanstalk, but the differences between the home page and the post pages made that impractical. Between the rain, the sun, and the greenery, I finally had something that felt like a good fit. It says, to me, that small ideas, like beans and bonsai trees, can grow if nourished.

And that goes back to why I wanted to restart my blog. Not just redesign it or declare a new set of goals for the New Year, but to give it a fresh, clean start for the first time since 2005. I don’t know if I really inspired anyone but myself when I wrote, “Idealist or Pragmatist: Can a Blogger Be Both?” but I think the answer is yes – and I know that if each of us made a small effort, we could make a difference in a tired, overwrought, unhappy world. Just by being a little more enthusiastic and involved, thoughtful and kind, and contagiously happy.

Are you with me?


Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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16 thoughts on “A Fresh, New Look”

  1. Hi Holly,

    Very different look to this blog than when I first met you.

    Have a wonderful happy New year!

    1. It is, isn’t it? All I know is that it’s a better fit for me now. I loved the old desk with its planner and pictures of Trockle and Stephen; the purple was clean and functional but felt completely impersonal. And while I agree it’s a great idea to have a picture with every post, I just don’t always have one that fits. This theme doesn’t insist on it, but works fine either way. I hope you like it!
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…The Clean Slate MentalityMy Profile

  2. Nice, Holly, two comments though.

    First, my opinion for what it is worth is that it conveys a more serious, less bubbly tone than I associate with you from your old blog and your content. A contradiction between the moody look you mention and my impression of you from our “virtual” acquaintance. Not for a moment saying that is bad, just my first impression.

    Second, does this theme allow you to adjust the point size? I find I have to concentrate quite hard to read every word in the longer paragraphs even with reading glasses. I am using a large monitor which may aggravate it. I am sure you have other baby boomers amongst your readers, they may experience similar difficulties.

    Despite that, it is different and I do like it.

    1. Ask, and ye shall receive! (Is the text readable enough, now?)

      I’m not really very bubbly, Peter. I can be, sometimes. Sometimes, I’m dead serious. But by “dead serious,” I don’t mean that I’m dead – that would be kind of creepy, at least around Christmas and the New Year – or that want to convey some some sort of somber, stuffy seriousness.

      I really want a look that fits me no matter what mood I’m in. One that says, “Take me seriously, but smile. Laugh with me, too.” Does this work, do you think?
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…The Clean Slate MentalityMy Profile

      1. Much more readable, a big difference, thank you.

        I would never think of you as dead, at Christmas or any other time.

        Yes, this theme does suggest we should take you seriously, but then I always have, even if I do recognise your “bubbly” moments.

        Of course I meant bubbly in a nice, fun way.

      2. I have my bubbly MOMENTS. I mean, I didn’t take that as an insult – but I was a little sick of the frivolous and messy look I had going on the old blog. In fact, I like this new template so much I’ve applied it to the old one just to give everything a coherent look and feel. But new posts will go here. Just…because. 🙂

        Actually, there’s another kind of OCD reason for wanting a fresh start and a new look. Back in 2009 or so, my blog crashed and crashed hard. In the recovery, the database got updated and a lot of the older posts really need editing to remove garbage characters. Well, I’m not going to do it. After three years, I might as well just admit to myself that it’s never going to happen. And they haunt me and taunt me with their random little question marks. So I’m just starting a whole new thing, here. I’m not blowing away the old blog – too much good stuff there. But there’s too much garbage to migrate the whole thing, and life’s too short to selectively do it, so “Ta-da!!” New one.
        HollyJahangiri recently posted…The Clean Slate MentalityMy Profile

    1. That’s the thing – I felt that the old themes overpowered the content. They shouted. They demanded graphics. They moved and had too many fiddly bits. I wanted something attractive, “tailored,” understated – something that would support the content but not try to overwhelm and overshadow it. I’m glad you like it, Mitch!
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…The Clean Slate MentalityMy Profile

  3. I am envious. I’ve run my blog for four years just fine on WordPress, but I really need to do a site for my book(s), and it means I have to learn even more. I refuse to have another one ‘designed’ and started, because the last time someone did that, when I finally went to work on it, it wouldn’t even let me on.

    I have done EVERYTHING myself on my book. Well, except take the cover photo part – but I licensed it myself after I found it myself.

    I’ve just reached the limit of what I can do – write book 2 plus market 1 – and I’m sitting here knowing I can learn that, too, and dreading it.

    Maybe after I get further into the writing.

    But it seems pointless to leave my URL all over the internet, and in the back of the book – and not have a nice clean place for people to land on when they get there.

    It’s on the list – but I can’t see the ‘third way’ yet. I looked up switching to premium services on WordPress, and found another learning curve.

    NOT asking for help. Just feeling the burdens a bit. And irritated: I could do this, if I put my mind to it – but then I would have learned something I’ll use very rarely.

    Even we sturdy DIY types get tired sometimes.

    Forgot: yours is lovely.
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted…Resuming writing after hiatus depends on preparationMy Profile

    1. I’m a bit of a “do it yourselfer” when it comes to my blog. It does take a bit of willingness to bang around on the keyboard – a resilience in the face of boneheaded mistakes and lessons learned by trial and error – and the understanding that good backups are your friend. I’m sure that you could do it all yourself, and would probably enjoy the learning – but I wonder if it’s really worth your time and effort? That’s something to seriously consider. About the only thing I dislike about “free” on WordPress is the ads – I don’t see them when I’m logged in, but readers do. What I’ve seen have been inoffensive and nothing I’d object to, but you need to know that it’s there, supporting our “free” blogs. Blogspot is really free, but over the years, as they’ve tried to make the interface “easier for all” they’ve managed to make it pretty much unbearable for some of us. And I like having paid hosting – it’s not expensive and it means I get some tech support when I need it. (They typically will NOT help with WordPress “how to” or technical issues, though, so you’re still on your own there. You just have somewhat more control over your own content, and it’s a bit harder for them to make you vanish without any warning!)

      My current blog template is based off a premium template that I’ve customized different ways on different blogs. I like it because it’s flexible that way, easy, and stable. Bells and whistles are nice, but they add complexity and things to troubleshoot when something goes south, so I prefer simplicity and an attractive, tailored, consistent look.

      Thank you by the way, for reminding me of Bookcrossing.com! I’ve reactivated my account (so old it predated my current email address and my own published books!) and will give that a go as a “promotional” strategy! I used it in the past as a way to save old books I no longer wanted to give houseroom too!)

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