Inception

1. Overview

This is going to get a little meta, but I’m going to compare two of the WordPress templates I’ve played around with so far: Baskerville 2, and Libre 2. To try and keep things straight, I’m going to format this critique as I would a technical manual. Blogs aren’t really built for that, but let’s see how it goes.

1.1 Baskerville 2

Baskerville 2 is described as “a dynamic, grid-based theme for curators…to showcase posts, videos, images and galleries, and share favorite quotes and links.” The blog title appears in the middle of a giant image heading the blog.

1.2 Libre 2

Libre 2 is meant to bring “a stylish, classic look to your personal blog or site for longform writing.”  The blog title appears frozen in a horizontal pane along the top of the blog.

2. Formatting

2.1 Baskerville 2

Post title: font 27, Bold
Post info: Not included
Paragraph: Arial 13.5, 18 points after, 0 before
H3: serif web font 18, Bold
Pull quote: wider sans serif font 16, centre aligned and offset with horizontal lines above and below.

See the blog post entitled “A picture is worth 1000 words” for an example of Baskerville 2, or in fact any post, since the blog is currently set to this theme.

2.2 Libre 2

Blog title: Times New Roman, 12, Bold
Title: Georgia 24, Bold
Post info: Georgia 12, Italics, 10 points after, 0 before
Paragraph: Georgia 12, Left aligned 21 points after, 0 before, single spacing
H3: Georgia 13.5, Bold
Pull quote: Georgia 16, tabbed in from left margin, offset with a quotation mark.

See the blog post entitled “Libre 2” for an image of my initial blog post in Libre 2.

3. Critique

3.1 Baskerville

3.1.1 Images

I think Baskerville 2 is better suited to shorter posts that include a visual element, such as an image or video. In fact, the large image-based header overshadowing the blog title is a constant reminder that images dominate text in this template. The template seems almost aggressively design focused, with the image in the blog header reflecting the C-shaped scanning pattern we’ve been warned to account for in our online design course manual. The whole thing seems a little overbearing and heavy handed.

3.1.2 Fonts

I believe most of the fonts in the Baskerville 2 template are Arial, which someone once told me was the best way to say you truly do not give a crap, and that’s always stuck with me. I appreciate the simplicity, and it does look quite clean, but it is boring. I believe the overall message is that the text is unimportant in a blog using this template.

An awkward quirk is that if you use H1 in your post, from the Home page, it appears larger than the title of the blog post does, as you can see if you scroll to the top of this post.

3.2 Libre 2

3.2.1 Images

Libre 2 allocates much more screen real estate for text, with the blog title fixed to a thin frozen pane at the top of the page and no space set aside for an image-based header. Actually, there was no way to include an image at all in this template, which turned out to be the limiting factor in using it to complete my assignment.

3.2.2 Fonts

The fonts are all Georgia, except for the blog title, which appears in Times New Roman. Apparently Georgia was created in the early ’90s to retain legibility and clarity  even on very low-resolution devices or printed formats. I don’t love it, but I can’t deny its functionality.

3.3 Pull quotes

Of particular interest to me was how each template treats a pull quote. While both themes enlarge the font and offset the quote from the paragraph text, they do it in very different ways.

3.3.1 Baskerville 2

Baskerville 2 shows pull quotes in a stretched-out, centered Arial, allowing the reader time to meander through the letters and ponder their meaning.

It also adds horizontal borders above and below the pull quote text, separating it from the paragraph text: a real and quite literal “break.” This is actually my favourite aspect of the Baskerville 2 theme.

3.3.2 Libre2

Libre 2 emphasizes the literal “quote” aspect by opening a single giant quotation mark immediately to the left of the pull quote, edging the quote itself to the right. It’s suited to a more journalistic style, or even a newsletter, where you want the human element to feature first and foremost. You can see what it looks like in the “featured image” at the top of this post.

3.4 Conclusion

In general, I’d say the Libre 2 template is more suited to my purposes as a writer, while Baskerville 2 will do very well for a more design-focused blog.

I think I’ve also adequately demonstrated that blogs are not suited to a technical writing format. At least, not in either of the templates I tried. What’s your favourite WordPress theme for writing-focused blogs?

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