Lately, I can’t help but notice the sudden proliferation of WordPress themes for writers.
Want to know what to look for in WordPress Themes for Writers?
I first came across “The Erudite.” It claims to be a free theme for writers (their emphasis) which is funny on at least one level since there is no such thing as The Erudite. I can only assume that this is an attempt to create a noun out of an adjective. That’s fine if you are writing song lyrics, but you might be missing the point if you are pitching writers who, theoretically, have a solid command of grammar and vocabulary.
Erudite means scholarly or educated. Writers can be those things, and they can also be uneducated lunkheads. Being a writer does not make one erudite and being erudite does not make one a writer. As far as I know, nothing makes one part of the erudite. If you are going to aim a project at us, do it correctly.
Today I came across Dispatch which is some sort of child-theme / add-on for Mimbo Pro which is the version of a magazine-type theme that you pay for. It is a theme for “writers and journalists.”
The common element of both themes is that they are sparse, non-graphic intensive, themes that make maximum use of white space, whatever the heck that means. The unspoken commonality is that these are themes for those people who care too much about their content to actually want any fancy-pants bells and whistles on their themes.
Normally, I’d just shrug and move on, but I’ve been around WordPress just long enough to remember when the so-called magazine themes first started coming out. If you are wondering, no they don’t look like magazines at all. They sort of look like a very specific subset of trade magazines that deliberately attempt a newspaper look on the front of their magazine in an attempt to seem more journalistic and authoritative and less like a free publication that shows up every week if you claim even a tangential connection to the industry being covered.
Despite the inaccuracy of the term “magazine theme” it has stuck and it has basically become a de facto standard in WordPress.
In an attempt to head the so-called writer theme off at the pass, as a professional writer, I’m going to disavow these themes as having anything to do with writers.
Next, I’ll point out for the edification of all, that the people who actually care about white space and readability as it pertains to the overall layout and ability to intuitively read and follow text are typographers, not writers. Call these typographer themes, not writer themes. (You better get the fonts right if you do though.)
If WordPress developers want to create a theme for writers, I’m all in favor of that. However, I would ask that such a theme really be of benefit to writers, and by writers I do not mean some imaginary writers who are lower level website owners that don’t want graphics or SEO or whatever because we are either too attached to our words or too stupid to understand the value of those things.
As writers, we care very much about how our work looks and is presented, and as PROFESSIONAL writers, we care very much about how our writing can and does make money. If anyone is looking for an ad-friendly, SEO optimized theme, it is writers.
We are the ones who are sick and tired of junk content, poorly-written-article filled, websites ranking ahead of us in Google. Of course, they generate higher advertising revenues because the techies at Google think more like other techies who mass produce thinly developed websites using all the right HTML tags and Dreamweaver CS-PriceGouge-4.$$$ plug-ins to make the computerized robots that crawl the Internet happy. Who cares if the information they provide is useless to most who visit. (That is, after all, the goal. If you help with a user’s needs, you diminish their incentive to click on an ad for a product or service that they could buy that might help instead.)
Meanwhile, those of us who write useful, well-developed, fully-researched, content that people would actually want and need to read get ranked 43 because we dare to write something over 800 words. We might also use a catchy title that people would find interesting instead of one with the right keywords in the right order, which we would only know about after paying some other techie at shell-out-your-cash.com to get access to the data and research that shows what these magic keywords are.
In other words, if you can build tricks and bells and whistles into your WordPress theme for writers that would let us write while the PHP takes care of all that Google-required crap, we would really appreciate it.
In the meantime, stop assuming that writers spend their time wishing the Internet was just black text on white backgrounds with plenty of “whitespace”.
You can read about my rant at the Windows Live blog when a developer said that search engines are designed to look where writers put important words. (Like in the HTML title tag? Yeah, us writers do that by instinct.)