I created a brand new custom theme

Friday, June 20th, 2008 @ 8:08 pm | Blogging

For my newest blog, Scottsdale Real Estate Blog, I went crazy and created a brand new custom theme. I know…crazy, huh? With so many free themes out there, why would I bother to create a new theme. Well, I wanted what I wanted, and I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, so I set about creating it.

It started with the vision of a photograph in my head. I hadn’t taken the photo, but I knew what the photo was going to be. I would shoot the McDowell Mountains from the top of my office building, and that would be the banner photo. This beautiful blue sky and mountains would be the basis for my inspiration for the theme.

I installed Dreamweaver, a tool I had never used before, and pieced together a complete theme, with all of the rough elements: Header, sidebar, content, and footer. At this point, I actually took the photo that was in my head. I would need it to complete the header, and really stylize what I had in mind. Photoshopping skills, I apparently have a little, but I’m continually amazed at how difficult it is for me to do what I feel should be easier. Eh…I suppose when I stop taking photos will be the day I declare myself a Photoshop master.

McDowell-Mtns

At this point, with so many php elements in the theme, and not much content to play with, Dreamweaver ceased being very useful, and I just installed it all on the live blog, and made my final edits from the WordPress admin panel. Honestly, it’s painfully slow, but since it’s my theme, I wasn’t hunting around wondering where to change what. Actually, the toughest part was getting the cForms plug-in and it’s style to agree with my style. I wanted that plug-in to go narrower than it is built to go by default, and adjusting cForms style to do that was very time consuming. And of course, it’s style and my theme’s style clashed, but that was fine…it caused me to clean up my style.

As themes go, it’s relatively basic. There aren’t as many style elements as the bigger themes, but at least I know it’s unique (or unique enough…I mean, how unique is a header, sidebar, content, and footer?). This exact format won’t be found elsewhere, and that itself is reason enough to have bitten off the task.

I’m naming the theme onScottsdale, for lack of a better name, and I’m sure I’ll add to the theme over time, but doing this project has given me a much better sense for what I see when I look at a theme, and what’s style/theme versus content. I don’t think I had fully distinguished the two well enough in the past.



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Comments

5 Comments so far


  1. 1 Kristal Kraft on June 20, 2008 8:49 pm

    Hey Steve this is very cool! Isn’t it fun to do something new and challenging?

    You might want to make this comment box stand out. I knew it was here, but only because I knew where to look…

  2. 2 Candace Robinson on June 20, 2008 8:59 pm

    Hey Steve, pretty splashy job here! I do like the white on black…nice new theme. You are so talented!

  3. 3 Gay Potter on June 21, 2008 7:30 pm

    Steve – really like the black and white – more pictures!!! in the content page – even if all you are blogging about is how to do something better in the blog world – reading it briefly, I think I will refer to it as an instruction manual! Thanks for all the hints! If you need a picture just throw a picture of you up there – your nice smile will give encouragement to those of us struggling to “get it”. “Teach”, I am waiting on my wordpress password as I write this. I will attempt to set up the Potter Family Blog – as my first blog – my family is used to my mistakes! : ) I do agree with Kristal – I looked for this box too. Thanks for all the inspiration!

  4. 4 Steve Belt on June 21, 2008 7:34 pm

    Ahh, I see I’ve created some confusion. The theme for mySideDoor isn’t one that I created. Credit for that is given below.

    The theme I created was for http://www.onScottsdaleRealEstate.com This blog is sort of my playground blog. A friends and family thing. I picked this black and white theme, because I thought photos would stand out nicely, and I think they do. It also has a rotating/random header image, with a bunch of photos I’ve taken over the years.

    @KK- if you mean the comment box for the Scottsdale Real Estate Blog, I’ll look at that closer today. In IE, the comment box stands out better than in FireFox…I’ll adjust the background color to a subtle dark grey, which should help. To be honest, I don’t know that I’ve had more than 5 comments in almost of a year of this blog…

  5. 5 Steve Belt on June 21, 2008 7:52 pm

    @KK, @Candace, @Gay – Thanks for finding my personal blog. I didn’t create the theme for this blog, the credit for which is in the footer. This theme I picked to showcase photographs that I take, and then as Gay points out, I’m not putting nearly enough photos on this blog. Go figure.

    Anyway, the theme I created was the one for http://www.onscottsdalerealestate.com Still, I’ll adjust this theme’s CSS to make the comment area a bit more obvious in Firefox. In IE it’s ok, but it should be easier on the eyes to see what to do. And with this 4th comment on this one post, I think this just might have doubled the total number of comments I’ve had here in the last year. Thanks ladies!

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