Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image


This site is getting a tad dated. It uses an ancient version of WordPress, and the theme is simply one that both Nick and myself agreed wasn’t as bad as all the others we looked at…

Upgrade necessary.

Now, I have looked at a few hundred* themes, both free and otherwise, and nothing rocks my boat. Some shake it slightly, but nothing too violently. Anyone got some suggestions?

I am sorta partial to a magazine or newspaper type of presentation, but my mind is open.

*Only hundreds, rather than the thousands out there, because looking at themes, just looking at them, gets really old, really fast.


  1. Julie near Chicago says:

    Cats– I know this is a dumb question, but what do you mean by “the theme”? Do you mean the banner at the top?

    Anyway, since you ask: The simpler the better. As I’m sure you know, Samizdata recently went through this. In the end, we got something that’s almost what we started with. Clean, simple, easy on the eyes, no distracting material, and fast-loading. Near perfection. Personally, other than using a different banner (a simple one, that loads quickly) if you like, I wouldn’t change a thing about the presentation.

    The one thing I would ask for is the best Search you can find. I’m afraid the Other Place gets negative points on Search. CCiZ carries informative postings and informative comments, and sometimes all one remembers is that there was a reference to “Cariña Mia” in there somewhere. Or the commenter was somebody called Ermintrude Inch.

    Try searching for, say, “Julie near Chicago” (both with and without the quotes) and see what you get! *g*

  2. CountingCats says:


    The theme is the look and feel. Try googling ‘wordpress themes’ to see what I mean.

  3. bilbaoboy says:

    Happy as it is.

    But it’s yours, so..

  4. RAB says:

    I’m not bothered by theme Cats, make it look as good you can. What I, and the rest of the Kitty Counters want is a guarantee that the site will stay up 24/7.

    We have lost so much credibility and readers over the crashes of the site in the last month or so, that I’m surprised we have any left at all.

    We will have to work hard to re-build.

  5. Julie near Chicago says:

    I had no idea there are such things as “WordPress themes.” However, my idea of the ideal is right there on the first page of examples: “Truly Minimal.”

    As long as the Search function actually searches. (Samizdata’s used to. *grumble*)

  6. bloke in spain says:

    If you wish an occasional visitors view, I d go with julie on the minimalist tack.
    There’s a failing with IT bod’s, just because they have fast internet connections with infinite download budgets, everyone has & design websites to suit. Like a lot of people, I work off a mobile dongle which here gives me a very expensive Gb a month at a theoretical 128Mb & actual more like 128Kb. There’s some sites require a Mb or more just to view the page & then have an automatic page updater running as well. Big slice of my allowance, so avoided.

  7. Roue le Jour says:

    I’m running off a mobile here too, so ditto what bis said.

  8. Sam Duncan says:

    Hear, hear, Bloke. Even though I have a decent-ish connection, there’s little that annoys me more than downloading megabytes of graphics, off-site javascript guff, and – gawd ‘elp us – fonts just so I can read a page of text. There was a lot to be said for gopher.

    Having had a quick shufti, I’d be sorely tempted to go with something like this.

  9. Bod says:

    Background color changes are ‘bandwidth inexpensive’ and I for one would happily forgo the randomized banners at the top (when I first came here, I thought you’d hand-picked those images – I could see the point to a stylized tropical shore, and a ‘plane flying overhead, but I couldn’t imagine why you’d have the Rising Sun in there).

    I think that a single consistent banner would help the brand somewhat. I think the blue that you currently do links’n'h-tags looks nice, but I might be tempted to use that as a background with a contracting color for text. Give my red and green pixels a bit of a rest.

    If we’re taking wishes, I’d prefer longer “Recent Comments” and “Recent Posts” sections, and push the archives off the front page, and maybe curate the Blogroll a bit. For the longest time, Jen Marohasy’s blog was stagnant, and I considered just how much effort it would be to make sure everyone linked was online and relevant on a regular basis. It was nice and courteous to do blog-linky stuff way back in the Internet Palaeolithic Era of 2003, but none of us are scared of linking out to other sites now.

    Lastly, I’ll scream if you hook this up to shrink-wrapped identity theft code like Google Analytics. I run Firefox with NoScript and this is pretty much the only site I regularly visit that doesn’t give me cascading heaps of alerts that there are links out to JQuery, GA, DoubleClick and

  10. Julie near Chicago says:

    I too am not so crazy about the morphing banner. And would like longer lists of recent postings and recent comments.

    I really, really think it’s important to have a search program that searches the entirety of postings and comments, and that, as a minimum, abides by “the exact phrase” as indicated by quotes enclosing a group of words. Other than that, well, Less is Much More.

    (Signed) Minimal Me, J n C. ;)

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