Towards better Options in the Daily Theme....

After working with the new Daily Theme all weekend, I have to say I'm impressed with the design, versatility and customizability. It's a great little layout, one that I'm sure many people will love to put into use. I know I am looking forward to relaunching with it once the database conversion is done from my existing site.

Outside of personal things I'd like to tweak, there is one glaring problem with the new design, though. It's an easily fixable problem, but it might take a few iterations to get right. My critique isn't meant as a criticism or allegation of fault. It's more a "damn, this is confusing. How can this be less confusing?" As a professor and writer, this is something I wrestle with all the time -- how to make whatever it is I'm creating or teaching more easily relatable by those unfamiliar.

The simple fact is that the options menus are confusing, with divisions and organizations that, instead of making things easier, actually just increase the level of confusion and that requires a trial and error method to make heads or tails of things. Since I was working on the coloring this weekend, I'll just point out my experience in those sections in this post. If you are interested, I can email my experience with the other options sections if you like.

There are many beautiful styles that you guys have come up with. I looked at them and said "Oh, I like this one, but if I could change this color and this color it would be perfect." " Unfortunately, there's no way to do that. I have to either select a preset or the custom. I can't tweak a preset to get it to where I'd like it. If I select the custom css option, I'm presented with empty values for every section and must start changing things through what amounts to a trial and error process.

See, the way the values are organized isn't helpful. There are seven major divisions on the page -- but every division sports exactly the same title: "Text Styling." If they were grouped by say "Header Styling" or "Font Styling" or "Blog Styling" and "Profile Styling" that would be far more helpful.

There's also the situation that the fields in those sections aren't always self-explanatory. They don't easily lend themselves to discovery. Plus, the words often recur in a slightly different way in another section of the site. Take the first section. What is my h2 colour going to change? I kind of sort of remember what the h2 level is... but when I get lost when I'm presented with the "highlight h2 background color" from the fourth section below?

What is the difference between my container, my dark container and my light container? The PDF guide doesn't really help... names aren't quite the same between the control panel and the guide. And there isn't a "map" in the book to determine things. It's puzzling and daunting to figure out.

The simplest fix, one that still wouldn't address the confusing names and divisons, would be to include the color values when you load the css styling options page. As is, the custom page does produce a black and grayish layout. If those values were filled in, one could then look at the live page and backtrack to fine the value and alter it.

What would also be grand is if I could click an option and have the "technology.css" values fill in on custom page. Then I could go in and tweak what I want from there. For those of us who are artistically challenged (like myself), boo-ya! That would be incredible.

The best solution, I think, would combine better section titles, subsection groupings and value names, plus an option to insert CSS values from the existing styles onto the custom CSS, then tweak as wanted.

Again, I don't mean this as a bitch session. I'm really loving all of the tools I've found here. It's just that I'd like the tools to be even easier to use for folks like me who aren't experts with html or color styling. Hopefully, something that I've said here will be of help for future versions of your product.

  • Tammie

    @jodyw1: Thank you for your feedback it's nice to have some constructive feedback and it's always appreciated. For now the theme options are staying as they are the child and parent themes allow you to easily change things if you do like a particular style and in the style files we have made sure that they only contain colours or 'styling' css. For instance if you look under library/styles/daily.css you will see this. I have however taken your naming for the theme options on board and just uploaded a new version with better sectioning or at least naming of the sections.

    As for how the theme options are done for now it will be this way however in the future methods are always being looked at that could even be completely different from any currently used. Your comments weren't taken as a bitch session at all however any change to how the styles would be displayed like this would ideally be one that is done not on a per theme basis but across all our themes so needs deeper consideration.

    In part this is one reason why most themes only allow you to change the actual layout (move sidebars) and such as once you get into theme options everyone has a different method they work to / which will work for them. We've since 1.2 BuddyPress made sure all our themes use child / parent themes to try and get around this issue in part by giving that option. We are also giving purely style css files in the ones I already mentioned so users aren't confused by other CSS techniques in those files. However we will considering this if we do look to upgrade the options.

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