Hicks

The start of Shelf!

Drew Strojny from The Theme Foundry (who I knew from his lovely Traction theme) recently asked me if I’d like to create a new WordPress theme for him. The offer-I-couldn’t-refuse was complete creative freedom, and the opportunity to make the design process visible. That doesn’t mean ‘open’ in the sense of ‘everything being up for discussion with the internets’ (that way madness lies), but documenting the steps as we go.

Everyone has a different workflow, and my workflow isn’t necessarily the right approach for anyone else and vice versa. However, I still love hearing others explain their thought process – the ‘Design Eye’ panels at SXSW spring immediately to mind as being good examples.

So on this blog, and on my dribbble account, I’ll be recording what happens as it goes along. Who knows, it might be fun! It’s the certainly the first time I’ve ever done a project in this way.

Before I go any further, I have to know the constraints. Even on jobs with creative freedom, there are still constraints. On this project there are 2 main ones: budget (which is usually the case) and saleability. It can’t be so esoteric a theme that no only my mum wants to buy it!

The next stage was to come up with an idea. Drew wanted it be something that I would excited about, that I really felt motivated to do. My original thought was something along an 18th century nautical theme, inspired in no small part by my love for the Kraken Rum packaging:

I discussed this with Drew, but the conclusion was that this was too esoteric, limiting the potential audience somewhat, which was fine. So I went away and sketched a more contemporary idea that had been brewing:

It involves a shelf (very subtle white/grey shades, not wood) with a series of ‘cards’ on it. The content is put into these cards and their size is dependent on the browser window. Content could be identified as different types of ‘cards’ (article, photo, video etc.) and each of these would have a slightly different layout.

There would be a fixed top nav and footer, and these would allow for different colour scheme options – a very modern grey/yellow but the background yellow and text colour could be interchangeable for any colour scheme.

As the content would resize to fit the height, scrolling would be horizontal. We’re always told to avoid horizontal scrolling, but I love a challenge! I’m keen to see if I can make it work, especially with what will be a fluid, responsive design.

This a theme that could multiple purposes:

  • a Tumblog or Blog
  • Photography or Design portfolio
  • Shopping site

Basically sites with a lot of visual information, rather than text-heavy content. Stay tuned for more developments!