Month: February 2015

  • What we’ve been learning about themes

    The servers have been stable for a while now, and we're starting to shift gears to looking into features.  Our biggest effort has been around researching themes systems, so we can upgrade Xanga’s default theme system to be more flexible and powerful.  Here’s what we’ve learned:

    * Mobile-friendliness: Providing a mobile-friendly version of themes is key.  A key question is how similar the mobile theme should be to the desktop theme.  A lot of themes out there don’t have any similarities at all - it can be tough to make mobile and desktop themes match.

    * Header editing: A lot of people want to be able to do something basic, like edit the header area without having to touch any code.  Bonus points for being able to easily upload a header image!

    * Module editing: Another common feature request is the ability to add and edit modules with basic HTML.

    * One theme versus lots of them: With all the features to support, it’s better to have one theme versus lots of them.  That means that the one theme has to be pretty flexible though, which is a bit tricky.

    * Tradeoff between Flexibility versus Ease-of-Use: It’s easy to provide flexibility by itself, but hard to provide a flexible theme that’s easy to configure and doesn’t require knowledge of HTML/CSS.

    * Security:  We’ve looked at a lot of the themes out there, and many of them have huge security holes in them, so that people’s data can be easily compromised!   This has ruled out a lot of the turnkey solutions out there, alas.

    We’re currently researching theme systems out there, and seeing how they do against these criteria!  Let us know if there are any theme systems out there you’d like us to look at, and we can share our thoughts/evaluations in our next post.