Changing Themes Mid-Stream
It seems that spring brings on the urge for change, not just weather-wise, but in all aspects of life. It is a time of beginnings, of fresh outlooks and expectations. If indeed, it is the season of Rebirth, than perhaps it is also the time to reinvent ourselves and our surroundings. It has been over a year since we started this website, and it will very soon be the first anniversary of our Etsy Shop— O Deer Mercantile. It has been a busy year, so much so that personal issues and the intensive amount of work that goes into attempting to establish a new business, has often caused me to let this website and blog suffer. I admit that it has been probably the lowest on my list of priorities, and that is a long list these days.
And, of late, I have not always felt particularly inspired. A certain amount of inspiration, as well as imagination, determination and just plain hard work is required to produce reasonably good content for Blog Posts. Oh, I have ideas… Lots of ideas! However, translating these ideas into words and images has often just been more than my weary mind can wrap itself around. My life is divided into so many compartments— Mom, Daughter, gardener, housekeeper, cook, website manager, etsy store owner, thrift and estate sale shopper, bookkeeper, and on and on… Sometimes I just can’t decide what to do next.
However, here I am writing a Blog Post, and promising myself at least, to do better in the days to come, at keeping up with this project, and promoting it better. Though I tag and try to do SEO, post on social media, engage with followers, etc., I just haven’t made this site really work. My old Blog— A Glitch in Time (Now taken down) — consistently got more traffic than the new site does, and I have only posted on it twice in the past year (2015). I pondered long and hard on the how and why of this traffic difference. I put a lot more effort into Social Media and promotion these days, and I do see an upswing on our shop views and sales, so perhaps it is mostly that I have not given enough time to good content. My most popular posts on the old Blog were my Spiritual Ramblings which I really did not plan to carry over here, my craft room posts and tutorials. We will try to include more of the latter in the near future. Hopefully, I can get the other also very busy O Deer Ladies to contribute more often.
Branding and the Theme
In the meanwhile, I have worked on and hopefully refined the branding on both the site, my social media and the shop. The up-shoot of all this effort was that I just have not been happy with the look and feel of O Deer Mercantile. The beauty of using a CMS (Content Management System) framework such as WordPress for your website is the comparative ease with which you can make substantial changes in both content and style. In the past, I have used Drupal and did a bit of work on Joomla, but when it was time to set up my own site, away from the safety and ease of Blogger, I chose to use WordPress. After building two sites with this very flexible and comparatively easy framework, I am hooked, and would recommend this platform to anyone wanting to create their own website. There is plenty of information and loads of how-to tutorials on the internet. The WordPress.org site offers a wealth of resources and help. There are also many wonderful books on the subject. I used WordPress 24-Hour Trainer by George Plumley, and found it to be a thorough and very useful guide.
Besides extending functionality and including all sorts of fun and useful widgets to make a website hum by adding plug-ins, you can change the entire style and look of your website by changing themes. There are many free and reasonably priced themes available. The WordPress Theme page offers literally thousands of options for free themes. There are many sites that sell reasonably priced themes also. Creative Market and ThemeForest are two of my favorites.
I have previously had two different themes on the O Deer Mercantile website and found that neither provided certain features and design options that I wanted. I just don’t feel that I have the time and energy at this point to do a lot of modifications to the underlying structure of the themes, the CSS and .php files, so I went in search of a theme that had that certain something that has thus far eluded me. It took a good deal of looking, but I finally decided to try
Pinnacle by Kadence Themes ( I have since bought and implemented the Arcade Premium Theme by Bavotasan ). I liked the look of it immediately. It had the flat design and full responsiveness that I wanted for my site. Also, there are tons of options for styling and making it mine as well as being set up to become an eCommerce site if I choose to go that way.
I will say that changing themes is way easy (initially) and a little scary. Just go to Appearance/Themes in your WP Dashboard and press the Add New Button. You then have the option of uploading a theme you already have or using the search feature to link and load up your new theme.
- When you decide to change, make certain that you have set aside some time.
- Check and see if there are any Plug-ins required by or meant to enhance the new theme you are enabling. If so, get the plug-ins and activate them.
- Once you activate the theme, preview it to see what has (eek!) happened to your website.
- Don’t be alarmed at the rearrangement and probable disappearance of your thoughtfully placed sidebar widgets and so forth. You will need to go to the Customizer (or Theme Options if your theme includes these) and work your way through.
- On your Widget page, scroll down and you will find a list of Inactive Widgets bottom left. These are the widgets that resided in the sidebar and other widget areas of your old theme. They still have all the information and customization, links, etc. that you already set up. You just need to move them to new homes on this Theme’s widget areas.
- Check the site where your Theme (there is usually a demo page and often more articles or tutorials) originated and see if the authors have included any further instructions for customizing or enhancing your web page.
- Do a web search on your Theme. Many times, other users have discovered shortcuts or made useful changes—some of them provide tutorials also.
While I am still tweaking this site, and probably will be for a while, most everything is back in place. That easy…
Basically, that’s all there is to it. I would love to hear what you think of the new look, and will try my best to answer any questions about using WordPress or changing themes that you may have. See you soon.