Blog themes, plug-ins and widgets. Oh my!

A new medium

Before Igears-820978_640 started this blog, I did oodles of googling and reading about how to start. Almost every site assured me that setting up a blog using their resources was so easy that I would be up and blogging in about 5 minutes. When I finally took the plug, it was true that I was able to choose a theme and “go live” with my first blog post in a reasonably brief amount of time. But after publishing, I was confronted with an array of new challenges that required me to learn about customizing themes by activating plug-ins and adding widgets. I soon realized that tweaking and improving the look and feel of this virtual space would take considerably longer to accomplish and that I had substantially more to learn about this new medium.

A black box full of themes

Trying out various themes, installing new plug-ins and activating helpful widgets was like opening a black box  1 and discovering a vast collection of more black boxes that I could experiment with for hours and days (which I did and will continue to do). Each time I tried out something new, the number of revisions for that first blog post began to climb. As that pesky number grew, it acted as a glaring reminder of how many combinations of themplugets  2 I had tried and changed before arriving at a version that I could live with for now.

Choosing a theme was very time-consuming. There are thousands of templates available in WordPress to look through and try out. Each one has components that can be modified to fit your blogging needs. Once you’ve decided on a theme, you begin activating various widgets to add functionality to the header, footer, and sidebars on your pages. Then it’s on to exploring thousands of plug-ins that allow you to add features like floating social media sidebars and footnotes, If you can think of a function that you would like to add to your blog, there is most likely a plug-in available for it.

So it seems that authoring content for a blog is only one crucial facet of the craft. The content has to look good as well as attract and build a following. Who knew that my desire to tell some stories about my ancestors would lead me into a whole new set of experiences while learning about the blogosphere.



  1.  Wikipedia, (, “Black box,” rev. 07:27, 05 Jan 2016.
  2. My personal concocting of a word that makes it possible for me to save a little time and space by avoiding having to spell out “themes, plug-ins and widgets” in this and future blog posts.