Variations on the Theme

I feel goofy writing this because I don’t see myself as a website designer.  LOL – not even remotely.  If you only knew the brain cramps that websites have plagued me with over the years.  I’m an artist by nature and training; a code poet I am not.  I have these grand visions of what a website could look like, but then get to the code part to make it happen and blow my mental radiator. It’s painful and messy.  But I’ve had several of yall ask what template I use and how I did it, so I thought that it might be helpful if I took a minute to share what I did.

Enter the shining knights at WordPress.  With a good set of bones and a smidge of gossamer, I can hang a little shingle on the web that isn’t half bad.  As of this writing (Christmastide 2010), this is what my blog looks like:

Christmastide at Life in the Garden

The great bones in this case is a smart and simple template called Contempt.  If you clicked the link, you’ll see that it’s a mostly blue theme, and while blue is a fantastic color, it’s not really a favorite of mine (sorry blue fans!).  Contempt is a great template because it offers the ability to customize so much (some templates don’t have as much flexibility).  I did just three things to personalize it:  background, custom header, and sidebar color.

For the overall design, I wanted something joyful but quiet, and thoroughly Christmas.  Ever since I was little, I’ve loved white Christmas lights, so that was the first thing that flashed in my mind when I thought of a re-design.  The Contempt template allows you to use your own image for the background; the image that I used above is actually our own Christmas tree.

How to:  I used my 50mm lens, and pointed the camera at the tree.  I adjusted the focus, though, so that the lights fuzzed to nothing but all that beautiful blurry bokeh.  Click.  Chimp.  Smile.  Next!

With the header, I used Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 7 (that wants to be Creative Suite 5 when it grows up; but hey, we’re still in diapers around here ; ).  I checked the banner size of Contempt and opened up a new file in Elements set to those same dimensions (750×140 pixels).  Picked my background color, font and font color, and put it together in a simple graphic design.  I saved the file and uploaded it to my template at WordPress.

Last thing left was to change to the color of the sidebar boxes from a blue stripe to a delicious mochalatte (it’s late and I’m hungry).  I purchased the Custom CSS Editing upgrade and plugged in a bit of code and voila: mochalatte sidebar.  Except for that one where you can subscribe to updates.  If anyone knows how to get that one to give up the blue, please holler! 🙂

So.  Now you know everything that I know about blog design.  Didn’t take long, did it?

God love ya, peeps!


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