RAProject Undergoes Face Lift

RAPlogo

Ronald Huereca of the R A Project.com website has finished and published his redesign of the Mimbo Pro theme. I’ve heard from a number of designers that the color brown is one of the most difficult colors to design around. Ronald however, seems to have found a great color scheme that goes well with brown. Refreshing greens, red highlights, a bit of tan, vanilla, and a big fat juicy strawberry in the footer to finish things off.

I was fortunate enough to help play a role in this design as I offered tips and critique to the mockups that Ronald gave me. I am impressed that he has been able to take an idea on paper and turn it into a reality. The new look is a major refresher when compared with the paltry blues of yesteryear. Some of the things that really stand out in this theme for me are as follows:

  • Simple Navigation
  • A big featured article block
  • The recolored carousel which features images related to the article. These images really add some spice to the part of the page where they are displayed.
  • The three most recent articles with differentiating headers. Ronald has told me that the color variations were to help differentiate the posts. However, I think it’s rather ironic that the colors go from Dark (recent) to Light (older).
  • Unlike most designs, the footer on this site features a giant red strawberry. Who doesn’t like giant red strawberries being dipped in chocolate?

Strawberry Footer

I know Ronald was going for more of a relaxed atmosphere with the new design and I really think he has captured that effect with his choice of colors and layout. Ronald, you may be a coder, but I think you did a great job with the redesign. So good in fact, I think PJ will have to add this design to her modified premium theme gallery.

Two New Ways To Get WP News

I got word of two projects today which may be valuable sources of information dealing with WordPress within the near future. The first is called WPSource.com. WPSource.com is an aggregation website that displays the 5 most recent headlines from major players within the WordPress community. The site features a fancy drop down animation once a headline is clicked.

WPSource Screenshot

A small excerpt from the post is displayed with a read more link at the bottom of the excerpt. When you browse to WPSource for the first time, it takes a little while for the page to load which can’t be blamed fully on the domain itself as it’s pulling the 5 headlines from outside sources. Even though this is a work in progress, I would like to see either fav icons of the site listed along side the headlines or some other images to really give the site some spice.

Our second contestant is adii who is building a community oriented project which will be a WordPress magazine which will highlight content from the thought leaders within the community of WordPress. The types of content that will be aggregated include: general and misc WordPress news, themes, designs and designers, plugins and development.

WordPRessMagazine Project

As you can already tell at a glance, both projects are circling around to the same conclusion but displaying the results in two different ways. Even though adii does not have a public demo, I can already tell you that I enjoy seeing the aggregated content displayed in this fashion versus WPSource. If the ability to subscribe to the specific categories will be possible in this iteration, I’ll have it give this design bonus points as it will help me condense these feeds into my Feed Reader.

When I look at this design mockup, I sometimes feel confused by where the post is being aggregated from. However, I enjoy the fact that this design will place more importance to the favicon as it’s use and importance has gone through the floor.

As it stands, WPSource is farther ahead in development as they at least have a working demo/project online that works. However, once the Magazine project comes online, it will definitely give WPSource a run for it’s money. One nice thing about both of these projects is that they are aggregating content from a wider variety of members within the WP Community instead of aggregating the usual suspects which Planet WordPress already does. May the best project win!

Jeffro2pt0 Featured On WP-Premiums

Jeffro2pt0 Image

A few days ago, PJ notified me that this blog design was featured on WP-Premiums.com. So far, the design has a total of 8 votes with an average rating of 4 out of 5. According to PJ the reason this design was chosen to be included in the WP-Premiums gallery is as follows:

I was so impressed by your great customization of the Shifter theme that I’ve featured it on WP-Premiums.com. I’m sure that your design will be an inspiration for others who are planning to design or customize their own WordPress-powered websites.

Thanks goes out to PJ for adding this site design to the gallery. Thanks also goes out to anyone who has rated this design on WP-Premiums, I really appreciate it. A last round of thanks goes out to those individuals who worked with me on their own time to provides suggestions and critiques to enhance the design. If you haven’t checked out WP-Premiums before, I highly suggest doing so as it’s a showcase of what people have been able to do to their premium themes outside of the norm. For example, my favorite design right now in the showcase is the blog of Robin Malau.

This showcase would make for a good place to get inspiration from if you are looking at designing a WordPress theme.

Contribute To WordPress Contest

ThemesClubLogo

Thanks to Small Potatoes of WPDesigner.com I have 50 free accounts to give away to his special WordPress themes club. This club only cost $5.00 to join but guarantees you at least 12 WordPress themes. Considering the themes that SP has already developed, this is a very affordable way to gain access to some premium quality WordPress designs.

However, you will have to earn a free membership by participating in the Contribute To WordPress Contest.

The rules are simple. The first 50 people who leave a comment describing a UNIQUE way of contributing to WordPress will receive a free WPDesigner theme coupon. When I say unique, I mean, don’t copy and paste something into the comment field. Come up with something on your own.

Ok, go ahead and let the imaginative juices flow.

Its Not So Bad

Have you seen the WordPress 2.5 backend lately? Chances are, you have and perhaps the chances are even greater that you didn’t like what you saw. As for myself, I enjoyed the more modern look with the exception of the color scheme used. All of the color shades appear to be a bit too bright for my liking which ends up giving the backend a washed out look to it. But the features and enhancements to the UI such as the tagging and media uploader have impressed me.

The three major complaints that folks seem to be having with the redesign are these: not being able to rearrange the sidebar in the write panel, ungodly amount of scrolling, and the color scheme. The good news is that March isn’t here yet, so perhaps things will change before then. The bad news is, these are all valid complaints. I personally have to admit that the current Write Post panel within 2.3.3 is much easier and nicer to use than the one in 2.5. The ability to bring things up to the top of the sidebar which you use most often, just about eliminates the need for scrolling. If the WordPress devs add this functionality back into 2.5, they will kill two birds with one stone. People will be able to modify their write panel, solving the scrolling issue while this will also help to diminish the waste of white space.

But if 2.5 is released as we currently see it, based on the reactions I’ve read so far, many people will be displeased. In fact, some people are threatening not to upgrade unless a classic admin panel option is installed or a plugin makes the backend look like it does now. I think that is stretching it a bit and all you’re really doing is hurting yourself by not upgrading. But the fact of the matter is, WordPress is Open Source, and that means that a high demand for something, usually encourages developers to churn out a solution.

So what could this mean? Well, if you recall a post that was made on WeblogToolsCollecion.com not too long ago, you’ll see that there are about a dozen or less admin themes available for WordPress. I believe the number of admin themes available is so low because the current WordPress administration area actually fits the bill for so many people that only the ones who truly dislike it, want to change it to something else. However, in WordPress 2.5, we may see a change in the tide. If the dis satisfaction continues or grows once 2.5 is released, we may see admin themes being released as much as we see frontend themes. This means an awesome amount of choices for backend designs might arise out of this issue which I believe isn’t a bad thing.

Is It WP Or MT

If it weren’t for the Welcome To Movable Type text, I wouldn’t believe it. Mark has created a Movable Type plugin which mimics the WordPress back end in almost every way. Why was this done you may ask? According to Mark, this was more of a joke than anything else, but the plugin is real and it helped to prove a point that alternative interfaces could be created for MT with little effort required.

MovableTypeWordPressDashboard

Based on the comments thus far, many people are impressed as well as shocked to see such an accurate rendition of the WordPress back end on Movable Type. Although Mark obviously prefers to use MT as his platform of choice, he undoubtedly has a soft spot in his heart for the clean, slim lined WordPress back end which after the release of WordPress 2.5, may not exist anymore.

At any rate, I was just as shocked as anyone else to see these screenshots as well as the demo. No need to be upset, although there does appear to be a rivalry between the two platforms. Aaron Brazell, a big WordPress fan himself of B5Media chimed in on the design and he said it was cool. I think likewise and I hope the comments on that MT plugin continue to be positive and not end up turning into a flame war.

If you want to see a live demo of this plugin in action, check out MT-WP BackEnd Demo (username: demo password: demo)

Please let me know what you think of this plugin and it’s similarities.

WordPress Premium Theme – Reviewed

I don’t think I’ve ever done a review of a WordPress theme before, so this ought to be interesting. However, ever since I laid eyes on the WordPress theme called WordPress Premium, I’ve been wanting to review it.

WordPress Premium Logo

WordPress Premium was designed by R. Bhavesh and comes with 3 different color styles. Black, Soft-Red and Brown. In the screenshot up above, that is actually the Soft-Red version. At first, I didn’t like the color scheme. But after I altered the brightness settings on my LCD monitor, the color scheme has grown on me and I actually think it’s soft on the eyes.

First Things First:

WordPress Premium Subscription Area

One of the things you’ll notice first is the RSS button that is predominantly located at the top of the design. What I like about this particular section of the theme is the beautiful integration of a subscribe via email form, right next to the RSS button. This allows your readers to easily choose between which method works best as far as keeping up with your posts. Believe it or not, there are still a large number of users who subscribe to websites via email. In fact, there are at least 5 individuals who have subscribed to this blog via email, not including myself. Another nice aesthetic is the rounded corners presented all across the design. Despite what critics have said, I believe rounded corners to be easier on the eyes than 90 degree corners. Of course, my own blog design is filled with hard edges. I get a ton of emails from readers complaining about being cut from the blog. At any rate, the rounded corners just add to the smoothness of the overall design.

Advertising Strategy:

WordPress Premium Advertisement Spaces

As for advertising placements, WordPress Premium comes preloaded with three advertisement squares that are built into the sidebar. These are 100X100 squares that typically hold advertisement images similar to the ones found on WeblogToolsCollection.com

3 In 1 Module:

WordPressPremium 3in1 Widget

Other highlights worth noticing is the multi use, tabbed search box. This tabbed widget serves three purposes. A search box, an archive displayer, and a list of categories. I believe this to be an excellent use of space and wouldn’t mind having something like that for my own design.

The Sidebar Effect:

The sidebar for WordPress Premium takes special notice from me. It’s hard to come across a blog with what I call a 2 in 1 sidebar. That is, a wide sidebar built into two smaller sidebars. That way, you can put those big widgets in the bigger sidebar, while putting smaller width items in the skinnier sidebars. That is the kind of side bar I wanted for this blog, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. With WordPress Premium, this kind of sidebar is built in, and should serve as an excellent area for those third party widgets to reside in.

Content Is King:

WordPress Premium Content

As for the display of content, the content background is white while the foreground text is a dark gray. I think the dark gray text provides a smoother contrast when compared with the black on white. Out of the box, displaying images either on the left or right side of the post looks good as they have the appropriate padding attributes so that the text is not squashed up against the image. As a nice touch, the comment notifier is displayed in the top right hand corner of each post. This little gem displays the number of comments per blog entry and links to the comment section of that post.

Conclusion:

To download and see this theme in action, click here.

Before the new year started, I browsed around for hours, checking out numerous WordPress themes along with template designs on Templatemonster.com, looking for inspiration for the redesign. As you can see, I merely rearranged my current theme and elected not to go for a completely new look. However, had I changed the blog to a completely new theme, this is the one that I most likely would of chose.

Actually, while I might still have your attention, do you think the color scheme or some of the elements from WordPress Premium would look good on Jeffro2pt0? There are a few things I wouldn’t mind trying to implement from that theme into this one. But I figured I’d ask first.