A good WordPress theme for Google’s Panda update and Google+

Google’s Panda update and Google+ has motivated me to start using more cutting-edge technology at ardamis.com, starting with a new theme that makes better use of HTML5 and microformats.

I rather like the look of the current theme, but one of the metrics that Panda is supposedly weighting is bounce rate. Google Analytics indicates that the vast majority of my visitors arrive via organic search on Google while looking for answers to a particular problem. Whether or not they find their answer at ardamis.com, they tend not to click to other pages on the site. This isn’t bad, it’s just the way it works. I happen to be the same sort of user – generally looking for specific information and not casually surfing around a web site.

In the prior WordPress theme, I moved my navigation from the traditional location of along side the article to the bottom of the page, below the article. This cleaned up the layout tremendously and focused all the attention on the article, but it also made it even more likely that a visitor would bounce.

For the 2012 redesign, I moved the navigation back to the side and really concentrated on providing more obvious links to the About, Portfolio, Colophon and Contact pages.

I’ve been a fan of the HTML5 Boilerplate template for starting off hand-coded sites, and I’ve once again cherry-picked elements from it to use as a foundation. If you’re interested in a running start, you may try out the very nice Boilerplate WordPress theme by Aaron T. Grogg.

The latest version of the theme also faithfully follows the sometimes idiosyncratic whims of Google Webmaster Tools’ Rich Text Snippet Testing Tool. Look, no warnings.

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