I’ve noticed that quite a few of the trendy designs for blog templates on the free WordPress.com site, while looking very gorgeous and all, are just not that accessible for folks – pale grey fonts, especially tiny pale grey fonts, are the worst offender. I’d like to have a list of themes good and bad – the themes which generally work, and the themes which should be avoided by folks running a blog on wordpress.com. (If you’re not sure how to find out what theme a blog is using, look down in the footer – there should be a credit link showing the name of the theme and maybe the name of the theme author.)
So, what have you, as readers and users of blogs on wordpress.com, found to be the best and worst user experience in terms of accessibility?
Looking at what’s currently rated as the most popular themes there:
(i.e. legible for most readers, no horrid accessibility fails)
- the two recent default themes – Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven – skiplinks, nicely legible font size and colour, high contrast. They both have customisable headers and backgrounds too, so sites can differentiate themselves easily. Also they have footer widgets for extra info/navigation blocks, so that your sidebar can be uncluttered except for the essentials.
- Kubrick – the old default WP theme. It’s a nice basic style that is fairly readable.
- Vigilance – not in the top 10, but it has its fans. They’ve put quite a bit of thought into various accessibility features (textual elements to designate different items that other themes only style visually, for instance); reasonably customisable.
- Coraline – super legible, high contrast font/background, strong layout, customisable header and background, header image can be removed entirely.
- Titan – Ok but not great. Layout is very clear and minimalist, font is only just dark enough for me, will probably not be dark enough for some readers.
The Horror Stories
(ok, that might be hyperbole, but they fall short)
- Bueno – this one’s a shame, because at first glance it looks so promising. But the font for the posts/pages and comments is just way too pale for lots of readers. If you really love it and want to fork out 30USD per blog per year for the Premium Add-On Custom Design Upgrade that’s an easy fix, but you need someone who knows their way around stylesheets.
- Wu Wei – pretty much the same story as above – a very appealing theme with a too-pale font.
I ran out of time to look at more themes for this post (busy week!) – so I’m throwing it up as it is. Have at it!