The work on my WordPress blog was due, and I looked at what I had on the screen. It met the minimal requirements, but the problem was that it was minimal. I still had another week to work on it, but I did not want to wait that long to do something interesting with it. I had only one night to make some last-minute changes before it would be seen in class along with other students’ work as part of a “progress check.”
I thought adding a custom background would be quick and easy to do. I was wrong. In WordPress, some templates create backgrounds by presenting one photo as a series of repeating tiles. As I experimented with different images, I learned that some photos tile better than others. For example, images of objects appear as multiple squares or rectangles and produce a “compound eye” effect that mimicks insect vision. A housefly might appreciate this look but not the visitors to my blog. I decided to try something else.
I thought a pattern might be a safe bet for the background. However, I found out that I had to be careful with patterns too. Some patterns tiled nicely in the sense that they joined together in one continuous image. Unfortunately, some of the patterns were so bright and colorful that they drew attention away from my content. I tried to tone them down by reducing their opacity in Photoshop. They looked faded in a unpleasing way and were still too distracting. I eventually worked my way down to a white embossed paper pattern reduced to 30 opacity. It should have worked except for the fact that the template I chose did not have a solid color background layer behind the text. The pattern interfered with legibility of my content. In addition, it looked like I papered my website over with a bunch of doilies. This was not the look I was going for. I was not trying to sell vintage clothing or antiques. After a vain attempt to spice things up with a simple change in background color, I did something I was reluctant to do at such a late hour: chuck the template and replace it with a new one.
It took me awhile to find another template. I thought reading the descriptions of each template to decide which one to use would be a time-saver, but once again I was wrong. I soon discovered that it was quicker to hit the “preview” button for each template. At least I had enough sense to select the “A-Z” organization of the templates so that I could do a systematic process of elimination during my search. I decided on the “Pilcrow” template mainly because it has a solid color background layer behind the text. I also decided to compromise and use the custom header and embossed paper pattern I placed on my previous template. My blog still had the appearance of a vintage clothing or antique seller website, but at least the text was legible. I tried to console myself by thinking that this was not my final blog design, and I could do something more with it later.
It was 3:00 a.m., and I was just about to go to bed when one of my cats slipped out the door as I was letting the other one in. I was tempted to spend a few more minutes fiddling around with my blog while I waited for my cat to come back in. A few more minutes turned into half an hour, and I was still working on my blog even after my cat returned. Maybe she left because she hated the design of my blog too.
The tasks of searching, cropping, and enlarging images kept me awake while everyone else slept. The desire to give my blog a more contemporary look made me forget my fatigue. Dawn broke when I finally shut off my computer. I was tired but happy that I freed my blog from its nineteenth century mood, and I hope the people who visit my blog are happy with the end result of my long sleepless night too.