ThemeLab's Blog

Stay up to date with our newest WordPress themes, WordPress plugins, WordPress tutorials, and other announcements.

New Theme Lab Design by James McDonald

Last Updated on by

May 14th, 2008. That was the day of Theme Lab’s last redesign and over one and a half years later, I thought it was time for a change. Just for posterity, here’s a screenshot of the old design.

Old Theme Lab

In this post I’ll go over a few of the changes in the new design, there’s also a video.

Featured Area

At the top of nearly every page of the blog is a new featured area. Here there will be a list of handpicked articles showcasing some of the best content here on Theme Lab. To the right is a theme slider, which lists the 11 latest theme downloads. Hover over each theme to see the name and description.

Theme Lab Featured Area

Tag Pages

With this redesign are also completely redone tag pages. They will list a maximum of 6 themes per page on all the tags with more prominent demo and download links. Click around in the tag cloud in the footer to check those out.

Shout out to Eric Sizemore for the code that separates the theme name and the text after the hyphen in the title.

Theme Lab Tags

Threaded Comments

In the old design I used a plugin called Brian’s Threaded Comments to handle the comment threading. This was before 2.7 was released so the comments in the new theme make use of WordPress’ built-in comment threading with room for 3 levels deep of comments.

Also take note of the small green reply link on the bottom right of each comment available for reply.

Theme Lab Threaded Comments

Other Miscellaneous Changes

  • Related post listings on single posts by YARPP
  • New social bookmarking icons on each single post page
  • A Twitter feed of my three latest tweets in the lower right footer area
  • Text display of FeedBurner subscriber count thanks to this code
  • Only three posts per page (instead of ten)
  • No more trackback or pingback display in the comment area

Video Tour

Also go over a bunch of these in the following video.

The Old Theme

Ever since I launched the old theme (pictured above) over a year ago, I’ve received many compliments and requests for the theme to use on their own blogs. I have decided I will be releasing it in some form or another very soon, although it likely will not be free. Keep your eyes peeled for that.


Like I mentioned in the post title, the design was by James McDonald. You can check out his portfolio at Enthusiastik.

I think he did a great job with it and really captured the grungy and dark look I was going for. Hopefully you like it to, let me know what you think in the brand new comment form.

Also, if you notice any issues or bugs with the new theme, please let me know in the comments. I coded it myself and think I tested it pretty thoroughly, although I could always do with an extra set of eyes.

  • Keith

    Can’t flaw the design.
    Really nice work.

    I’m just testing everything out, you’ve done a great job with the coding and such.

    • Leland

      Hey Keith, thanks for taking the time to test it out, it’s appreciated. And glad you like the design!

  • Mark McWilliams

    WOW!! I must say that the new look is absolutely fantastic Leland, I love it, what a superb job James did with the design, and you with the coding of the theme! :D

    While the old design was nice, I personally think the layout of this new theme is just much better in general, plus some! – I now can’t wait to keep coming back here, and see what exciting stuff you’ve posted! ;) HAHA

    • Leland

      Hey Mark, judging from your Twitter it sounded like you were really looking forward to the new design, so glad you like it!

      • Mark McWilliams

        Yup, indeed I was Leland! … One thing that really stands out is the fact the sidebar is now slightly smaller when it comes to the width, the way the banners now show is much better on the eyes, for me anyway! :)

        • Leland

          Yep, seems before the banners were too crammed together with three per row, now they’re a bit more spread out with only two per row.

  • Omar

    New theme looks awesome, Great job!

  • Keith

    Also, it’s really bugging me that the logo doesn’t link to the homepage.

    Just so you know :P

    • Leland

      Ah you’re right. You can still use the “Home” link but there are probably people still used to clicking the logo to go back home. Will add that later.

      • Leland

        Just to follow up, the logo is now clickable. Also added back the Custom Theme banner because some people said it looked too empty in the header.

  • Daniel

    Awesome work man :)

  • Calítoe.:.

    I find it a bit too “dark” in the sense of “creepy”, “mysterious” and “obscure”. But I do like the new features and I guess by the time I started typing this note, my eyes had already got accustomed to “darkness”. ;)

    • Leland

      Yeah, I think for some it will take some getting used to, it’s a pretty big change from a white background content area to almost everything gray.

  • Jason Pelker


  • Andrea_R

    It makes me wonder what you’re cooking up out back. ;)

  • Design Informer

    WOW! Very nice theme. I’m definitely impressed. Great job!

  • Pavel Ciorici

    Like it :) And reply buttons are awesome :)

    btw, found a small bug (FF 3.5, Mac)

    • Leland

      Thanks for letting me know. Must have something to do with the padding between the buttons.

  • James McDonald

    Absolutely brilliant job on getting this coded to perfection Leland. Good job man, all the best.

  • Matt Kempster

    Very nice, James.

    The iconography works well and the site has a great vertical rhythm.

    Good work!

  • Roshan

    Fantastic design! loving every pixel of it :)

    • Leland

      Hey Roshan, long time no see! Just noticed a new template on Rambling Soul, very nice.

      And of course, thanks for the kind words on the new design. :D

  • Anto

    Nice and clean. How it should be. =)

  • Kyle Eslick

    EXCELLENT new look! You are a master coder Leland, and your designer did a great job with the new setup as well. :D

    • Leland

      Thanks a lot Kyle, means a lot! :D