I see a lot of discussion on web design forums and blogs about the trend in modern web design for designers to simply modify ‘Premium’ WordPress themes and charge a reduced rate for the service, compared to designing a site from scratch. The argument is that this trend will keep the rates we can charge for custom design too cheap and keep the premium theme companies loaded. On the latter I agree, but I feel this trend is only going to get more popular and in fact it’s allowed small/medium business and people wanting personal sites to be able to afford cool looking websites with great functionality that was never before possible on a budget; it might have even helped ‘beautify’ the web a little more as most of these ‘Premium’ themes don’t look too bad straight out of the box.
I’m all for this trend, and good-on the premium theme companies for creating a new marketplace that basically didn’t exist 2-3 years ago (you should gladly reap the benefits, as you are the ones actually building the themes from scratch and doing the support) but I think it’s important designers do their best to make their modifications really stand out and different from the original themes in the interest of keeping the web diversified. I also believe there is still a place to earn a decent living as a designer through custom premium theme modifications – if you can explain to the client exactly the changes you have made and can show some initiative on improving the functionality of the theme in some aspects, then why can’t you charge a 1/3 price to building a site from scratch and be able to build 3 sites in the time it takes to design one from scratch; thus earning the same income?
My recent redesign of AUS120.com™ has turned a few heads and is currently being showcased in a small competition run by WooThemes.com. Each week two websites built on the same theme run head-to-head in a voting competition to see which has the best looking design.
You can vote for my site here by clicking this link and scrolling half way down the page to the voting poll. UPDATE: I have won the competition!!! Check the results on this link.
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For the past 6-months I have been working as an affiliated ‘Woo Worker’ with the well known WordPress Theme company, WooThemes. As a Woo Worker I provide custom theme modifications and tweaks, site styling and graphical work for those who’ve purchased a theme from WooThemes. This week I was interviewed by Adii as part of an ongoing series of interviews with the other WooThemes workers. You can read a transcript of the entire interview by ‘reading more’ of this article or head on over to the WooThemes blog to read the full interview and post a comment.
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I’ve always been a big follower of Adii Rockstar, so when he got WooThemes started I thought it cool to do a mod of the free ‘Metamorphosis’ theme (by WooThemes) rather than code a complete site myself. Not to say that I couldn’t do this myself, but during the past few weeks I’ve been on the road through Europe for windsurfing and have hardly enough time to sit and build a complete new website. Modifying a theme is actually a little more fun as you can spend more time on the fun things like semantics, aesthetics, graphics, colour and fung-shui. Which for someone like me, who’s more interested in the front-end of the website than tinkering in the back-end, this is actually pretty cool.
I started by taking out the standard two-tone Woo background and used a CSS random rotating series of 4 large images which I morphed myself in Photoshop. I seem to be doing a lot of websites with the background-attachment: fixed; (which makes the background stay fixed in one spot, and the content scrolls over the top – cool effect!) but I just really like this effect!
Then I used a 50px transparent .png with 50% transparencyas a background filler for the content-box on the main page. I also changed the fonts of some of the headings and removed the borders. Wasn’t a whole lot of work, but I think the finished product deviates enough from the original theme to make it worthwhile.
The premise of this latest site design was to relaunch the site in a more professional sense and showcase some of the other things I have done in my life outside of the design work. An online CV of sorts.
I wonder what people think about using somebody else’s theme (albeit, a paid Premium theme) on a website that’s showcasing your own webdesign skills? I guess the market these days is looking for cheaper, more professionally looking websites made in the shortest time possible and modifying themes seems to fulfill these requirements much more cost-effectively than completely coding a website yourself (which is kinda a lot of work!).
As a Professional Athlete myself, I’m always interested to see what other athletes are doing to promote themselves on the internet. One would think that with the amount of money flying around in most high-profile sports these days, the highest earning athletes on the planet would surely have the slickest looking websites; this is not always the case. What shocked me more is that I could only find 2-3 athlete websites using WordPress as a CMS. Suffice to say there are some great athlete websites out there but they are in the few, so I’ve compiled a list of my favourites for you everyone to check out.
I didn’t really want to join the list of billions on the web posting a ‘my favourite blog designs of 2008′ article which most likely they ripped from SmashingMagazine anyhow, but spending a few hours today doing some research I’ve discovered that there are absolutely zero resources on the web to list professional athletes websites (I got the list mostly from googling famous sports heroes and trying to find their websites) and it seems the more famous the athlete, the less they spend on their website budget (mostly I would think, because the internet is not a great marketing tool for sports compared to Television and Print media – sorry guys!).
Anyhow, I thought I could be the first to publish a list like this featuring athletes, and I would hope with a few Diggs from you guys out there this could be become a valuable resource for webdesigners who have been given the task to build the new Roger Federer website. So enjoy and read on to check the sites!
On a recent project I just finished I got to try out the Arthemia Premium theme and here is what I came up with: www.followthewinds.com. I had quite a few emails from people asking me how I got the flash animation working in the Headline section. Funnily enough, I saw the script on someone else’s website and figured out how to do it myself.
Unfortunately, its not a free script; it’s “paid” and will set you back US$15 from FlashDen:
You can get other similar scripts for free but they’re not as complete and usually haven’t got the .xml file attached which will let you very easily add text to the images and assign the right pictures without editing the original flash files (.swf/.fla) themselves.
This script was a little tricky to get to work in because (my copy at least) didn’t come with any decent instructions and it wasn’t apparent where all the files needed to be sitting in your header.php and in your source folder. Anyhow, I worked it out after all the emails I received from others asking how I did this, I decided I’ll put a quick tutorial together on how you can put it in the Arthemia theme.
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