Changing Blog Theme: Lessons Learned
It’s been a month since I switched to the new theme here at YugaTech. Aside from the wonderful comments and suggestion fro improvements, there are several things at the back-end which I later had to deal with and should have given more focus during the design conception.
Here are some lessons I learned during the upgrade to the new theme:
- There aren’t really many ways to change a layout of a blog. The end result will always look like a blog. However, some elements you’ve given more focus before might not fit with the new layout. Consider listing down these elements and assigning them a priority number. That way, it will be easier to determine which elements you want to put up first. This is particularly important in the navigation and the items you display in the sidebar. If you’re coming from a double column to a triple column, it could be easier. However, shrinking from 3 columns to two columns could prove to be a bit trickier.
- PPC ads could be adversely affected, depending on the balance of the content and ads you display as well as the color combinations you will implement. One the biggest drawback with the new theme is that it affected the AdSense CTR. It’s a gamble really and one that you must be willing to take on. Of course, tweaking the ads after the fact might help you get back to the original ad performance or even better. Mine hasn’t but has gone back from negative 50% to just 20% below previous levels.
- Image sizes. Don’t forget the old content width of your theme and check what sizes the previous images and pictures were displayed. My old can accommodate up to 520 pixels and most of the photos I had maximizes that width. The problem now is that the current theme has only 460 pixels available in the content column. It was a necessary trade-off to get another sidebar column up. My solution — download the old pictures, batch resize in PhotoShop and re-upload them back.
- Don’t forget the direct advertisers. If you have direct advertisers with existing ads, consider their positioning in the new theme layout. Most direct advertisers would want an above-the-fold position for maximum exposure so mark their spot before the other elements. Another side effect would be post-level link ads — I lost a lot of new ads in that front because of the changes in the permalink structure that wiped off all the PageRank of individual pages.
Another one is, though I did not encounter this, changing backgrounds. I wanted a little darker BG this time around but since the old one was using white, I had to stick with it or else all of the previous images which uses the same background would make the pages look really ugly.
Hope some this these lessons you’d bear in mind when you change blog themes in the future. :)