It took me about half a day yesterday to get the theme to the point where it all looks nice and proper on my site and many of the new items are functioning nicely. You can take a look at http://www.liberyuu.org. What I have NOT done yet is taken all the content they offer and add and change my existing pages. I've done this on a small handful of key pages, particularly in the "About" section, but overall I've left my existing content in place, intending to change it over time, but this will take time. And it's wonderful that the UUA Theme has so much to offer than I can do this. It's not a downside at all that I could take weeks looking at and understanding it all. There's so much material here to go deep with, and what I've done is implement the showy face-value stuff at this point.
Look and Aesthetics:
If you'll remember from my last post, I had a few things I was looking for in a theme's look:
- A theme that let me use my own custom logo along with a title to the site.
- A theme that did not need a large picture in the header.
- A theme that allows for some sort of slider on the first page.
- A theme that includes links for social media like Facebook and Twitter in its header.
- A theme with a top menu bar.
- A top menu bar that was aesthetically pleasing to me -- a thin stripe with links on it, and not something that looked like tabs.
- A theme with a presentation page for the home page that's different from other pages.
- A theme that was accessible on multiple different platforms and responded nicely on mobile devices.
- A theme that gave me some choice about color scheme.
Overall, I'll say I'm not a big fan of the UUA branding color scheme, but on the "dark blue" option of the UUA Theme, I don't mind it. I like the yellow contrasting color you get on the homepage with the dark blue, and the overall color scheme in this version of the webpage is relatively pleasant. The Grey Red choice the theme offers is also pretty nice. I'm not a fan of the Aqua Green choice, but maybe somebody else is.
The overall look of the webpage, though, that is something I am a big fan of when it comes to this theme. I really love it -- it feels modern and clean.
The Home page with the UUA Theme works differently than I've encountered elsewhere. You create an empty page called "Home" and place it at the top of your menu, and then the content on it is all driven by widgets that come with the plugins that come with the them and that the theme recommends. Previously, I've seen the homepage created on a separate tab within the "appearances" section, so this took a little getting used to, and I had to play around with it a bit to get it working right. At first, despite a Home page at the top of my menu, the page was still pointing to another page that I had previously set up, and I had to find this setting and change it. That was particular to the way I had done things on my site in the past, so it took relearning what I had done before to undo it. Once I did that, however, setting up the widgets to appear on my Home page was easy, except the Carousel. I put a static picture into that spot while I worked out how to use the Carousel, which was very non-intuitive for me. I just couldn't figure out where you put the images in the Carousel, actually. It turns out that if I scroll down on the right, there's the "Feature Image" box, and that's where it goes. I wasn't sure if that image was what generated the image, or the image link box further down, so it took a while to get that straightened out. I also had problems in that the text the information page about the theme told me to put in a box in the widget wasn't working. A quick message to Christopher Wulff got this straightened out -- the text he says to put in the box is "[image-carousel category=”Homepage”]" but this only works if you've put your Carousel images into categories (useful if you want carousels in more than one location). I had not, so I needed to type "[image-carousel]" instead. The rest of the Home page was very easy to set up. I like the three picture and link boxes that appear on the second row. They're easy to change and implement, too. On the third row, I had a little more figuring out what to put. I don't have enough users generating content for me to really keep a "News" section going yet, and our Newsletter provided for a pretty short column. So I opted for two columns that will generate new content -- an Events list and a blurb about our monthly Forum -- and one that'll remain pretty static, into which I put the Common Read book.
The best feature of the Home Page, however, is the second widget in the top row, generated by the Services Plugin. This takes your Sunday service for the week and automatically puts it up front each week. The Services Plugin is the really outstanding part of the theme, and I'll talk about it more in my next post.