Two weekends ago my sister-in-law Anny Chih asked for some help sprucing up her WordPress blog. She wanted to apply for The Best Job in the World – the Tourism Queensland online video contest where you post a 1 minute video application to become the island caretaker of the beautiful Hamilton Island in Australia – and use the blog to showcase her talents and provide information about both herself and the islands.
Her blog was running the default theme but she wanted something that reflected the contest and also her own sunny disposition. She sketched up a rough draft in PhotoShop and let me get to work on it. I set aside one day to finish the entire redesign (totally crazy) and here is the result.
WordPress as CMS
Off the top you’ll notice I switched the front page to a static one to showcase the video and some info about the contest and Anny herself. The blog portion of the site has been moved to the back end and is accessible from the main menu and also from the Recent Posts box on the bottom right hand side.
Custom Field Boxes
At the bottom of the front page there are three boxes containing from left to right info on the contest, Anny’s 4 most recent tweets and the titles of the 5 most recent posts. The three fields are populated using custom fields from within the WordPress admin area so that they can easily be changed later. In the case of the Twitter box it is populated using the technique outlined in my Create a Twitter Box in Your Sidebar tutorial.
I used this site as an example during WordCamp Whislter last weekend to demonstrate how you can use custom fields for advanced layouts. The entire talk with code examples will be posted over the weekend.
Subtle Graphic Effects
I usually spend a lot of time making sure the sites I design have compelling and interesting graphics. In the case of Design is Philosophy I took the principle to the extreme but on AnnyChih.com I focused more on subtlety. For example, the background graphic with the bubbles is separated from the header image so that if you change the size of the browser window you’ll see the two images moving independently of each other. It’s a very subtle effect but it means that even people using smaller screens see the circle graphic Anny came up with.
Within the pages and posts I’ve also added graphic elements like the glowing underlines using CSS. It’s a simple trick that makes the content look more refined than simple solid lines.
One of the major upgrades in WordPress 2.7 was the inclusion of threaded comments. By activating and styling this fucntionality the visitors to the site now have the ability to carry on conversations without being confused by the comment order. Again it’s a subtle effect that greatly enhances the experience for the visitor.