I have to say a few words about the nice but, perhaps misused Hemingway Theme for WordPress among other blogging applications. The growing popularity of this theme cannot be questioned (there are nearly 440,000 results for “Powered by Hemingway”.)
I believe that the layout for individual post pages using this theme is very nice. There is a very good delineation between post, post meta info, and comments while still allowing the comments to flow like a conversation from the original post. The site meta info and additional links at the bottom also works on this page type (assuming that this information doesn’t get out of hand). Where this theme tends to break down is its implementation for blog homepages. People can (and have) debate about the merits of fewer or more blog posts per page and I could be persuaded either way depending upon the context and type (and frequency) of the posts, however, what is not argued as often is the convention of having chronological blog posts appearing above and below each other.
In the Hemingway theme homepage template, the most often seen configuration is to have the last 2 posts appear next to each other at the top, with links to earlier posts down below, often mixed in with other content to the point where it is difficult to determine where to go next for more “content”. In addition to this shortcoming, the other problem with Hemingway is that, if abused, the footer section at the bottom of each page with “about” text, and recent post listings, becomes unwieldy and ugly. Not to pick on a couple friends but the theme that seems to work so well for post pages, breaks down on home pages as shown to varying degrees.
The designer, Kyle Neath knows this and takes care to only show samples that are neat and clean. Minimal meta data and navigation in these screenshots maintain clarity and make finding what you need in the footer, much easier.
I never like to criticize without suggestions and positive feedback and so here is some:
- Keep the information in the footer simple. Keep lists of things to 10 or less
- Visually differentiate the part of the footer that contains links to the recent posts as that is what people will want to find the most.
- Write longer posts so that the posts at the top don’t look funny. (this one is hard, I know)
- Failing #4, at least try to keep your posts about the same size (also nearly impossible and impractical)
- Drop the second, recent post down and just show the most recent post at the top (refer to #4)
- Move post of only links to another area of the site (perhaps the footer?) as they look strange in the top section.