Jan 052012
 

If you are visiting Resistance is Fruitful on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, you may notice some hiccups with the blog, as I am rolling out a new theme. I’ve got a plan of action… but we all know what that means.

Although I’ve grown very fond of the features and the “look” I got with Suffusion, I want to see if I can find a theme that is leaner, sleeker, faster. I also want my blog to be more friendly to those using portable devices, tablets, smart phones etc.

If all goes well, I will be using WP-Clear, a premium theme from Solostream. Wish me luck, and have a very Happy New Year!

[Note:  No, that is not a picture of me, and yes, I did pay to use it.]

 

UPDATED 1/2/2012:

I am not impressed with Solostream, or WP-Clear, but will be keeping it for awhile.

First of all, Solostream bills the theme as “mobile ready”, but it’s far from being so. I was forced to resort to using a WPTouch, a plugin theme switcher that delivers a completely different page to smart phones and mobile devices.

I’m having to edit style sheets just to increase the font size of the body text, for example. The theme settings allow me to change some of the fonts and styles, but not the size?  Inexcusably sloppy, imo.
(correction:  There is a place to change body text font size in the WP-Clear theme, I just couldn’t find it. See comments from Solostream below.)

The “Featured Articles” slider at the top of the home page is far more clunky than what I had with Suffusion. Instead of being able to click anywhere on a post shown there, the user must notice and navigate to the nearly invisible “Continue Reading” button.

So, why am I keeping the theme? For one thing, I don’t have time and patience to change it right now. For another, I want to see if I notice an improvement in load time and SEO results. I’m experimenting, and despite it’s shortcomings, WP-Clear is no worse than a lot of the free WordPress themes out there. It just wasn’t worth spending any money for, either.

UPDATED 1/5/2012:

The image for this post must have been prescient. Changing templates was a HUGE mistake. I owe Sayontan Sinha yet another cup of coffee and Solostream owes me a refund, but they wisely chose to establish a no-refund policy and I foolishly agreed to it. Money down the drain.

If you can’t tell, Resistance Is Fruitful is back to using the Suffusion theme, which has been getting accolades from the WordPress blogging community. I am using a very tiny fraction of its functionality. It has so many features that it can be a bit overwhelming, which was one reason I considered trying a simpler theme. If I had one suggestion to Sayontan, it would be to offer a “Suffusion Lite” version for us basic bloggers.

I have been a fan of Suffusion since I started using it I two years ago. I am sold on having the featured posts slider on my home page. It helps me bring important posts to the attention of new readers, regardless of age and I occasionally update what content gets displayed there. The feature content slider on the other theme I tried was lame, to say the least.

I don’t regret the experiment, as I have been able to determine that the increased load times I’ve noticed the last few months is not due to the theme I am using. I will review the plug-ins I am using, as well as the CDN (content delivery network) I am using. It could even be changes involving my host.

Despite the complexity available with Suffusion, the coding must be tight and sound, as it loads as quickly as more “minimalist” themes.

Suffusion rocks, Sayontan. Forgive me for even thinking of using anything else!

UPDATED yet again 1/5/2012:

Giving credit where it’s due (pun intended):  Solostream has refunded my purchase and I will be contributing it to Sayontan’s “coffee cup” (his nickname for donations). Personally, I think anyone doing business on the web should have a very proactive return policy. Why create ill will by telling people they’re stuck with your product if they are dissatisfied with it, particularly when your competitors are working for donations?

BTW, this is what I think a “mobile friendly” theme should look like.  Just the posts. No extraneous columns, widgets, etc. People with smart phones don’t want to have to zoom in on a blog page, just to read the latest post. When I read “mobile ready”, I expected a built-in theme switcher, not just a downsized version of a 2- or 3- column webpage. WP-Clear’s featured slider caused the page to freeze up on the two mobile devices I tested: an iPhone and a LG Optimus V Android phone. I don’t consider that “mobile ready”.

 

  9 Responses to “Hoping to not get caught with my pants down – updated… AGAIN”

  1.  

    Awww c’mon… I think you should scrap the new theme and go with the “pants down” option!!! Your blog could use a little more skin, Jon! 😉

  2.  

    Just took a look around…  the new site looks gr8!!!

    •  

      Well, don’t get too used to it. I’m getting more discouraged with this theme every day and plan to switch back to suffusion as soon as I get some spare time.  I’ll still be able to change up the look. In fact, Suffusion is a space shuttle, compared to this VW bug. That’s part of the problem. I don’t need all of the complexity of a super theme, like Suffusion, but I definitely want more control than I’m getting with WP-Clear.

  3.  

    Hi Jonathan. So sorry you had trouble with WP-Clear, and I’d like to address the issues you mentioned above.

    “First of all, Solostream bills the theme as “mobile ready”, but it’s far
    from being so. I was forced to resort to using a WPTouch, a plugin
    theme switcher that delivers a completely different page to smart phones
    and mobile devices.”

    I’m wondering what you were expecting the theme to do that it does not do. When viewing the theme’s demo site (http://wp-clear-new.solostreamsites.com/), it responds perfectly to the browser size of my Android device. What is the experience like on your end? Can you offer any suggestions to improve the theme’s mobile-readiness?

    “I’m having to edit style sheets just to increase the font size of the
    body text, for example. The theme settings allow me to change some of the fonts and styles, but not the size?  Inexcusably sloppy, imo.”

    Actually, you can adjust the font size on the Theme Settings page under the “Main Content Style Settings.” If that’s not working for you, I’d like to know about it, because something is clearly awry.

    “The “Featured Articles” slider at the top of the home page is far more
    clunky than what I had with Suffusion. Instead of being able to click
    anywhere on a post shown there, the user must notice and navigate to the
    nearly invisible “Continue Reading” button.”

    This is a valid criticism, and I will incorporate that functionality into the next update (which will go out today). In the meantime, if you decide to continue using the theme, I can give you an easy fix for it. If you’d rather not modify any code yourself, I’d be happy to login to your site and make the fix for you. It will take all of 23 seconds to change.

    “Solostream owes me a refund, but they wisely chose to establish a
    no-refund policy and I foolishly agreed to it. Money down the drain.”

    Yes, we have a no-refund policy, but we make exceptions to that policy when the situation warrants, such as now. In short, if you want a refund, we’ll certainly provide it. Just give me the word.

    Again, I’m sorry your experience with WP-Clear was less than exceptional, and I wish you all the best going forward.

    Michael Pollock, Solostream

    •  

      Thanks for your concern, Michael.

      I was looking for a theme that would display posts in a way that is friendly for smart phones, not just “resize” the home page. I haven’t seen a theme that isn’t “mobile ready” based on resizing. To be clear: I want something that is “mobile FRIENDLY”, which apparently requires a theme switcher like WPTouch.

      Hey, you’re right. I now finally see where to change the font size and I honestly don’t know how I missed it. I was sure it had to be an option and it’s hard to know why that eluded me so long. I even studied the setup tutorials and searched the support pages, but did not find it, and I wasn’t willing to pay extra for “premium” support with Solostream after dropping $39 (non-refundable, after a discount) for the theme.

      Speaking of support, try searching “body text font size” in the Solostream support forum. Any search there returns only three results and a “more” button. I kept clicking “more”, but that gets old after a few times. Support forums:  also clunky.

      I was wrong about the user’s ability to change the body text font size in your theme, and I apologize for that. However, any WordPress blogger who compares the features between a $59 (retail) “premium” theme like WP-Clear with Suffusion will come to the same conclusion I did:  There is no comparison!

      Please do refund my purchase. I owe it to Sayontan.

  4.  

    Interesting to see the criticism and feedback from Solostream, cool that they are at least lenient.
    I am giving WP-Clear a run .. I don’t have time to waste so I hope that everything is now super mobile friendly.

    I think they are on version 3.0 now so we will see.

  5.  

    Thanks for your great review. I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand Solostream’s responsive templates. In some ways they are very nice to view on the web but, for mobile, they don’t look professional. It’s not just the navigation which is strewn all over the place but also the resizing of banners. For example, look at the top leaderboard and small rectangle – they are shrunk so far down in size (instead of being placed on different lines) that the result is being unable to see either of them on a mobile phone.

    I notice that many of the themes do look the same and have the same basic template. Perhaps that explains why these two mobile items remain the same. Hopefully this will change as well as a few other things. Still good to see at least there is an author response here.

  6.  

    I have paid for a countess number of themes, only to not use them for one reason or another. I am currently using Suffusion and I could not be more pleased. There are a ton of features that I have not yet touched, so there is always that to look forward to.
    Thank you for your great post. It is a reminder to stay where I am.

Leave a Reply