A needless theme change

This entry originally appeared on my disability blog, I hate stairs.

I read this great article on A List Apart offering 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web. In tip number three, the writer offers this bit of advice.

Don’t rush to replace a good design: you will grow bored with it long before your readers do.

Well, if you have been to my site before, you’ll notice that I simply ignored this rule. And I told myself I wasn’t going to. But I did. But I had a good reason for doing it, besides being bored with the old design.

I had a complaint about the readability of the site. The main body text was light gray on dark gray. Admittedly, the contrast could have been a little better. The navigation menu’s contrast was arguably worse.

Bad contrast in old menu

Bad contrast in old menu

This site is about disability, which makes it even worse to have such bad menu. So what did I do?

Introducing Andrea, the most beautiful WordPress theme ever made. Or at least that is what Lucian Marin, the theme’s designer says about it. While it is a bold proclamation, it definitely gives a lot of WP themes I’ve seen a run for their money. It’s simple and clean, which I’m a sucker for. But even in its simplicity, it creates a mood. In fact, it allows the content to set the mood, which is the mark of a good design.

Besides its pleasing aesthetics, it solves some usability issues for me. The body text is bright and draws the focus of the reader. The menu has better contrast than the old one. The comment links draw more attention because they are inline with the heading. Visitors to the site should find it easier to spot, and use, the comment links.

On a lesser note, I liked being able to incorporate my stairs logo into the design. It was quite painless to customize.

So let me know what you think. Is it easier to read? Is there anything missing from the old theme from a usability standpoint? I appreciate your feedback. We will get back on disability topics next update.