A fresh new look
Do you like the new design for this website? I had been meaning to do a custom Drupal theme for quite some time, the old theme I had been using 'Sky' looked pretty good but carried with it a couple of problems. Firstly, it was a fixed-width theme. Fixed-width websites are one of my pet hates, and laden with problems, they don't get the most out of the available screen area, often leaving large empty spaces or disappearing off the screen. Secondly, you could either have a left or a right sidebar; I wanted both! Plus it is always nice to have a unique design.
On my travels around the internet I came across a site that offered to design a logo for $39 (around £21). Curious, and thinking it would be nice to have a logo for the site I filled out the form at LogoDesignCreation.com to find out what that sort of money can get you. The form asked some questions about your website and likes and dislikes when it comes to logos. You could also upload logos you like. I just went through their portfolio and listed the logos I liked the most. They also do other packages and can even design a look for your entire site, but I just went for the basic package. After a couple of days I hadn't heard anything so I sent them a message to ask if they had anything for me to see, later that day they said they did and gave me several logos to choose from, in fact they had given me more logos to choose from that I initially thought I was getting so that was a bit of a bonus. Of the options one stood out, and I asked my friend Amanda which one she liked (without indicating my preference), she liked the same one so greenhughes.com now had a logo! I did have a couple of revisions done to the design which were included and after the logo was finished made a zip archive available which contained the logo in several formats and usefully the fonts they had used in the design. I am very happy with the design and service I got and would use them again (and no I'm not on commission!).
So armed with a logo, the next stage was the Drupal theme itself. I have to admit I did not create a theme from scratch, it seemed the better option to pick one that was similar-ish to the sort of look I was trying to create. I used the 'Aberdeen' theme as a starting point. Some of the icons used though have come from the Lullacons icon set. After that it was a case of playing with the CSS and adjusting/creating some graphics files with the GIMP to get something that looked reasonable and would rescale appropriately to different browser window sizes. This was especially important to me as I wanted the site to work well on the Asus EEE PC screen resolution of 800x470 so I did constantly test against this screen size to make sure it would be usable (using the Resize function in the excellent Web Developer Toolbar). The Aberdeen theme I started with seemed suited to this task and it was not too difficult to get it to cope with this demand. The colours were difficult to get right, so alot of experimentation took place with different colour schemes before the result here was arrived at.
The last task was the dreaded test to see if it worked with Internet Explorer 6. Just under 20% of the visitors to this site use IE so I thought it was still worth doing this check. Although if you are using IE, why not give Flock a go? You never know, you might like it! Thankfully the theme worked there too, with only a need to set the CSS overflow property on the sidebars to 'hidden' which seemed to keep the layout correct and avoiding the problem of a sidebar appearing underneath the content if a block contained something too wide to be contained within the normal allocated space.
It has been an enjoyable process and nice to do a bit of visual work, even though that is not my strong point!