psa & some more design wank

Since wordpress.com is one of the domains being scraped by Bitacle in order to garner itself some of that lovely Adsense revenue in return for no work whatsoever, feeds have been switched from fulltext to minimise their usefulness to sploggers. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause; but, to be honest, the only reason it was fulltext in the first place was for export purposes, and I don’t need to export through RSS anymore, so, yeah.

Adam wonders whether another 100 wordpress.com themes are really necessary. My feeling is that custom CSS didn’t take off as they’d hoped, and Matt is reading this as ‘people want full-scale themes, not mere stylesheets’ rather than ‘$15 is too pricey and people are put off by the lack of official support’. No doubt the unpopularity of custom CSS will get spun as ‘oh, it was always going to be a niche option for geeks, we weren’t expecting much’; but there were copy-and-paste options for non-coders within a couple of days of the feature being launched, so that doesn’t really wash. I’m also afraid that the whole Barthleme mess may have damaged Sandbox’s chances of getting made the default theme (this would get spun as ‘we put it on wordpress.com and it wasn’t that popular’). I hope I am wrong about this, but then I remember how political the Kubrick decision was, and I wonder.

That said, at the rate of two a week a fair few of these ‘themes’ are going to be stylesheet based anyway. If you want a custom theme without paying $15 or hanging around for the VIP program to start, your best bet is to go here, find something that isn’t too hideous or horribly broken (this may take a while) and send a feedback. Or, better yet, post here so that when everyone whines about its redundancy in the announcement comments they can point to your request and say ‘look! people actually asked for this!’.

Don’t say I’m not good to you.

Meanwhile, I am totally claiming credit for the installation of Rounded, although I know perfectly well that these things are decided solely by the whim of Matt, because I want more stuff to add to my forthcoming Page of Things I Have Successfully Predicted and/or Lobbied For. Matt will then be able to claim credit for this new wordpress™ wank feature, even though these things are decided solely by the whim of me. This circularity pleases me.

12 Comments »

  1. Alan said

    My feed reader exploded with feeds cause of your format change, and I thought Akismet broke again. I was almost disappointed that it wasn’t it.

    More themes won’t help them, more attractive themes would. A lot of the themes made for WordPress and WordPress.com are chosen more for their utility than beauty, and 100 new bland themes won’t win over anyone new, or satisfy the disatisfied that are currently out there. Unfortunately there isn’t a massive pool to choose from, so yeah.

    Dang.

  2. Sean said

    Maybe Automattic needs to bring some non-techies into the fold. A non-techie employee might have told them that normal bloggers have no clue what CSS is, or how to use it. Pay $15 for what? What’s that?

  3. adam said

    thanks for the heads up on bitacle. i’d seen them for a while in feedburner, i didn’t realize they were scraping.

    it’s a shame about the barthleme mess. i do remember sandbox being mentioned in the wp-hackers thread, so you may be right. although the direct refute to it not being popular on wp.com is that they didn’t include the basic styles (spartan and kubrick), so few people were going to use unstyled HTML. it’s actually the custom CSS that failed the popularity test.

    rounded does pull the odd trick of being flowery without being overtly feminine, so i’m glad to see it added (obviously).

  4. A non-techie employee might have told them that normal bloggers have no clue what CSS is, or how to use it.

    The trouble with this idea is that once our token non-techie has been around WP a few months, all their newbieness will have worn away and they’ll be as geeky as everyone else.

    But yes, ‘customize your theme’ would almost certainly have seen more people willing to pony up than ‘custom CSS’. The reason it wasn’t better promoted may well be because the shopping cart system was new (and apparently has glitches) and they wanted it beta-tested by a small number of geeks before entrusting it with anything important😉

  5. Matt said

    “This is recommended mostly for advanced users who understand CSS.”

    From the upgrades page. That said, it’s still selling 10+ a day, which is more thant we projected for it.

    “shopping cart system was new (and apparently has glitches) and they wanted it beta-tested by a small number of geeks before entrusting it with anything important”

    That’s an astute guess. We think we have all the glitches worked out now, but there were some bugs when it first launched.

    The tricky thing is going to be an interface for the themes page which scales to hundreds (thousands?) of themes.

  6. Sean said

    “This is recommended mostly for advanced users who understand CSS.”

    That seems a bit like missing your target audience. An “advanced user” is likely “advanced” enough to know how to setup their own blog, on their own host, for less than $15.

    In fact, my DreamHost account cost me $9 for the *whole year*, and I host 5 different sites on that one account.🙂

    But, if you’re selling 10+ of those packages a day, then that’s good to hear.

  7. Alan said

    $15 really is ridiculous, but I guess they have to make money somehow.

  8. timethief said

    Oh come on now gang – why would Matt look for a “token” non techie to put on staff when he can have my response free of charge. *lol*😉

  9. adam said

    the woman who suggested that comment author IP’s should be a required part of any good theme? i’m sorry, dear, i don’t know that you qualify for that position anymore.😉

    also, apparently i should buck up and deal with dreamhost’s crappy tech support, since i pay nearly as much per month as sean does for a whole year. 0_o

    considering that $15/year gets you wordpress support and bandwidth enough to survive a slashdotting/digging/whathaveyou, i’m not really seeing how the prices compare.

  10. (can’t log in, so no avatar :()

    “This is recommended mostly for advanced users who understand CSS.”

    You’re underselling. People see that and say ‘I’m not an advanced user, this is not for me’, without realising that a) it takes very little time to become advanced enough to change a font or header here and there or b) the community has already started to offer copy-and-paste stylesheets for non-coders. I’ve been designing blog templates for years, and I’d guess the majority of end-users during that time haven’t really understood the code they were copying and pasting. It didn’t stop them taking advantage of it any more than my rubbishness at PHP stops me using wordpress.

  11. coyote said

    Okay so I’m not allowed to call myself
    (1) a newbie😦
    (2) non techie blogger😦
    (3) I most certainly wasn’t clear on what is a reasonable theme design expectation when I made my list and Adam worked me over for it bigtime.😦
    But here I am – still willing and still learning.
    Anyway I’m not really feeling like $15 per year is huge expense for bloggers who want to have custom themes running on a secure blogging platform.

  12. Root said

    The real issue with the CSS upgrade is that where it is taken up and used to its full potential the difficulties soon become apparent. Although it is true that seperation of style and content is the mantra a person who needs the level of control CSS can bring is likely to quickly become frustrated by the lack of ability to edit the functionality / coding mess in the templates. It is just the Alex King theme comp fiasco multiplied.

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