It’s been a couple of years since I built the last theme for this site. I always have great intentions of creating new ones relatively frequently but I have to wait for design inspiration to kick in and that can take quite a while (since I’m not a designer by trade). Anyway, I started playing around in Photoshop, set a cork pinboard style background and began adding random things until it didn’t look terrible (that’s pretty much my design methodology). The result is below with the old design on the left and the new on the right:
Since I’m lazy I used the same theme and layout (I solved all the hard problems about browser compatibility and what not last time around), tweaked some fonts, colours and a few other bits and pieces and changed the graphics in the background. As before I’ve stuck with the idea of incorporating elements related to me and my life into the theme and indeed most of the contents are literally straight out of my wallet (I’m a sentimental old thing). The previous theme was also rather dark so I figured I’d brighten and freshen things up a bit.
Unfortunately while the design may be new it’s the same old tedious content. So apologies in advance. 😉
I cobbled together the design for this site a few years ago and had been gradually tweaking it, changing the banner graphics, the colour scheme and such things ever since. When I switched to WordPress last year I promised myself that when I had a bit of time I’d sit down and create a new design that was more personal to me. That time never materialised so I finally just sat down and did it anyway! If you’re reading this in an RSS reader you might want to visit my site and see it for yourself. Here’s the before and after picture:
I’m no graphic designer by any stretch of the imagination but I thought that rather than pay someone else to do it or use a standard template I’d give it a go myself to see what I could come up with.
One of the first things I wanted to do was widen the main content area of the pages so I could insert bigger photos (which is particularly useful as I’m retrospectively importing all my old photos into the site – more about that another time).
Taking the design of sites like Matt’s and the Web Designer Wall as my inspiration I decided to go down the image-heavy, non-minimalist, non-corporate route (it is the era of broadband after all). At one point I toyed with the idea of a minimalist design like Mark Pilgrim’s but in the end my ego got the better of me and I decided to try to put as many elements of my life in as possible. So here’s an explanation of what I came up with from top to bottom:
- The background picture is this photo of Goatfell which I took on holiday on the Isle Of Arran last year. It is of course in my home country of Scotland!
- The photos at the top are some of my favourites I’ve taken around Yorkshire – the place I’ve lived for the last 9 years (I can’t believe it’s that long) and a wedding photo is hidden in there too (you can just see my right shoe).
- My keyring goes everywhere I do and frankly I’ve never had a better one. 1GB of USB storage, scissors, knife, screwdriver, torch and pen built in? Swiss perfection! Or maybe I’m just a geek…
- Anybody who’s ever worked with me might notice that I never use a notepad – instead I just use bits of paper (invariably torn paper) to scribble on, which is why the design features plenty of torn paper.
- I have a thing about highlighter pens. Whenever I start a new job one of the first things I do is seek out a nice highlighter which I’ll use probably once the whole time I’m there! Hence the hover-over highlighting in the menu bar and the headings on the sidebar (yes, I really did draw a line with a highlighter pen and scan it in, I couldn’t think of a better way).
- Since my eyes aren’t what they used to be I get tired staring at black text on white all the time, so I’ve gone with textured paper for the main background.
- I’m obsessed with coffee so that’s a picture of a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain I was drinking yesterday at the bottom of the page – it was delicious!
- Finally, my good lady always complains that I never dust the house. She’s often written my name in dust and I swear I never see it (and conclude that dust is invisible to me). So for her I’ve gone with that grainy, grungy, dusty look, although it looks fine to me!
There are a few other tweaks throughout the site that I won’t go into but I must admit I’m really pleased with the result. Rather than having a plan I just fired up Photoshop and started working away, trying different things to see what worked with this being the eventual result. It took about 5 evenings from start to finish. Hopefully I’ve produced something original and unique that’s specifically tailored to me. And I did it all without resorting to putting a picture of me in it – yes! 🙂