14 Nov 2009

Back to Black

Featured Articles 3 Comments
Its been over a year now since I have started using WordPress as a web design instrument and since then I have made several changes to the theme I initially downloaded to get started.

As we all know, when you install wordpress you have a built in default theme to work with, but you also have the option of downloading hundreds of free themes. At the time I found the Mimbo Magazine Theme created by Darren Hoyt , which was just what I was looking for. Thanks to Darren for creating and sharing such a great theme. I had minimal knowledge of CSS and using wordpress but if you tinker with anything long enough you eventually get your handle on things.

Since the original download I've changed the face of site quite a few times, and will continue to do so over time. No one website ever stays the same, it loses its appeal and I think the same can be said for Blog sites as well. I was nick named The Shadow Master while I worked for Thirteen WNET, perhaps for my constant determination to bring some depth and realism to anything I worked on. Its all about depth... being able to push another dimension into a piece is always challenging and rewarding. Photoshop and Illutstrator are like arm and hammer to any designer.

At First Glance::

As you start out from right to left the initial green and white color theme for Darren's original theme was what I started out with. I loved this theme as it was one of the first of its class that I started seeing being used for wordpress. I like the simple magazine style article arrangement and was immediately drawn in to the possibilities.

Back to the Drawing Board::

First steps were getting some signature header up there at the top and then getting away from boring rectangles and square shapes. I like adding icons and images that feel a bit more visceral and less like your just looking at an online app. I started rounding out the article images to appear on the site and testing out how it felt at this stage i was interested in the scrap book feel.

Color Theory::

Most blogs have monotone or duo tone color styles and tend to look plain. Use of color can be an exact science and definitely dictates the flow of a site as well as the ease of use in order for visitors to read your content. I like a lot of color and started thinking of how I can incorporate funky colors into the site.

Changing Things Up A Bit::

After modifying the header I still felt a lot could be done to this theme to help bring out the content but as any designer would do I tried to create a signature look. Bringing lots of color into the background was able to bring the content out and I received great feedback, so I knew I was on the right track.

Irony at its Best::

Sometime after going color crazy I was drifting back into wanting the site to look sleeker and more like something out of a Sci-fi movie. I was attracted by lots of white and gray. I wanted to give the site more depth and create a sort of interface as opposed to a just a homepage.

Wide Body::

The first difference here is that I incorporated more of the background into the design. Generally you will see that the body of content will meet both sides of the browsers unless on higher resolution. The downside of that however is that not many will see it, generally if your on a 1024x768 resolution you will only see a fraction of the background and the walls of the main table will be closer to the ends of the browser from left to right. However I decided to stick with it, for those who are on big boy resolution you wont miss a thing. I have worked on wide screen monitors for years and it can be misleading and cause you to forget about your intended audience. Since this is my own portfolio site I went for the wider look, and all was well.

The Color Wheel::

At this point i still struggled a little on what to do with the color of the site. I felt there was just too much white on the page and not enough focal attention on content. White is definitely easy on the eyes but all too boring. Going with baby puke green seemed like a good idea at the time, but quickly lead to going Aquafresh. I dig blue anything, but it still wasn't gelling (pardon the pun). I felt like I was still missing the depth for a techy interface. The side grills were inspired by Pc towers, which have always reminded me of Car grills. I was still trying to get a sleek finish on my interface.

Back to Black::

Going black was a bit accidental but most likely premeditated simultaneously. I inverted a screenshot of the last theme and was immediately taken back. The side grills and new lighting arrangement on the banner looked significantly better and brought out the focus on the body of content again. So it was back to the drawing board, I re-colored my layout in black using shades of gray and lighting it just right, and finally felt like I got the look I wanted. It's been a favorite for most visitors, and though it can be a bit tough to read white on black as mentioned by a former work colleague and friend I think its worth the sacrifice being that this is my body of work and less of content driven blog. Hope you have 20-20, ;)

  • Paul

    Dude this is sick, I just got a 27inch" Imac and its quite a site when you open your site on a nice lush monitor. Very impressive, you have definitely come a long way from the original theme. My hat is off to you sir.

  • Kate

    I liked the Grafitti version with all the color, but the latest version is pretty impressive as well. Seems like everything today is getting a black slate glass look. Kudos :)

  • Micah

    Final version is definitely the best, dig the black theme. Keep up the good work!