decision to give a new look to this website

Introduction

In first week of January, I decided to change the theme and add some new features to this blog and website. From Hestia Pro, the theme first changed to GeneratePress, then Neve Pro. I have subscriptions for all these themes. The very next week, I reversed the changes and went back to Hestia Pro. Read to learn why.

Update Jan 24, 2021: I have changed the theme to GeneratePress, and customized a pre-built template. The journey was not without hitches: the stock GeneratePress theme install gave the site a 1990s look (retro is cool, but not always!)

Hestia Pro Theme for WordPress. Blog of Amar Vyas
This website with Hestia Pro Theme for WordPress.

Background

Every six months or so, I make a major update to my blog site. Traditionally, something or other goes wrong. But I treat these updates as opportunities to cull out some old themes and plugins, update content and images, and improve overall user experience. In early January 2021, I changed the theme twice, only to reverse the changes and go back to Hestia Pro theme. Below is the sequence of events.

GeneratePress Premium Theme

I wanted to try out a different theme for this blog, and Generate Press has been a strong option for the past several weeks. During Black Friday 2020, I purchased the annual license for Generate Press Premium, and today decided to give it a try on a live (staging) site for amarvyas.in.

testing amarvyas.in WordPress site with GeneratePress Premium plugin.
Staging site with GeneratePlus Premium plugin

I already was using Hestia Pro for the main site, and Neve was a standby theme. But I had purchased the subscription for GeneratePress during Black Friday 2020, and was keen to try the premium version of this theme. Installing Generate Press took no time, with the exception of the rookie mistake of not reading the manual or the instructions up front. In other words, instead of installing the GeneratePress Premium .zip file as a plugin, I kept trying to install it as a theme. Needless to say, kept getting errors.

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The Duh! Moment

An internet search led me to the below link

The solution lies in reading https://docs.generatepress.com/article/missing-style-css/. Reading this post clarified the matter, and beyond that point, it was a smooth running. 

Screenshot of portrait view- Safari
White Space in Portrait View- Safari
testing amarvyas.in WordPress site with Neve Pro Theme.
Staging site with GeneratePlus Premium plugin

Why I decided to revert to Hestia Pro Theme

I began to experience some quirky issues with Neve Pro theme on Safari browser. There was a lot of white space between posts, or feature image and the subsequent post. This issue occurred occasionally in Firefox as well. I un-installed Neve theme, and re-installed it; did likewise for the Neve Pro Plugin. But to no avail.

Worse, when I would rotate my mobile phone to landscape mode, the images would render in a really whacky resolution. Situation was no different on android (Firefox) or desktop (Safari). I decided to go back to Hestia Pro for now. GeneratePress Premium is still under testing on the staging site.

Postscript: Learning from Past Oops’es

In July 2020, I had made the last set of major updates to this site. At that time,the feature images had mysteriously disappeared. That is because I had two image optimisation plugins, each with a CDN enabled by default. This caused a bit of an issue, I ended up disabling the plugins and linked the images directly with BunnyCDN, as is the case with this site.

WordPress blog without any feature images.Blog of Amar Vyas

Staging site with Hestia Pro Theme: missing images

Update 24 Jaunary 2021

I figured out how to use the stock templates in GeneratePress Premium to create a new, refreshed look.

Changing templates in GeneratePress.
Changing Templates in GeneratePress

Website Speed and Performance

All factors remaining the same, GeneratePress is faster compared to Hestia Pro Theme. the screenshot on the left shows results from Hestia Pro Theme. The image on right is the data from GeneratePress Pro, un optimized. I used websu for measuring the speeds. This is a new service I learnt about from ProductHunt.

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Wrapping it all up

Changing the look and feel of website is an art and a science. Particularly for sites with existing content (as is the case with this website) it becomes really critical to bear in mind the following:

a. Check if the plugins are compatible

b. Scripts, any customisations, etc. should work

c. Images and other settings should not behave in a ‘funny’ manner

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