My Blog Design And WordPress Theme

I Love WordPress!As I wrote back in early August, I entered The Best WordPress Design of 2009 contest and I re-designed this blog during those days just in time when the contest opened.

The contest has been open for voting a couple of weeks now and over 500 votes have been recorded already.

Many blogs on the contest are modified versions of premium or free themes, which is great way to get a theme looking like you want without going through the trouble of designing a whole theme.

Crazy me decided that it would be cool to create my own theme and design it from the scratch, so that's exactly what I did, so the blog design is my own and I built the WordPress Theme from the ground up.

With that, now it's a good time to go back to the design process and tell you a bit why the blog looks like it looks...

Why I Wanted To Design My Own Theme?

First, I know PHP, I know programming, so I just wanted to see what's inside of a theme and what goes into designing one.

Second, I wanted to create something of my own.

Third, I wanted something truly unique and mine.

What Kind of WordPress Theme I Wanted To Make?

When I started designing this theme, I had these goals in mind:

  • Lightweight
  • Minimalistic design
  • Grid-based design
  • Fully customizable with CSS
  • Multiple Widget-zones

I wanted to use grid-based design to enable myself to control the actual layout via CSS, so I could change the layout as needed for different pages if needed. I wanted the theme to be efficient and lightweight to ensure reasonable loading times for the site.

And I wanted to make the site minimalistic, so things I wanted to highlight would pop up, without using actual pop-up, which I try to avoid like a plaque, both in my own sites and sites I visit.

A bit against the minimalistic and lightweight design goals, I wanted to include multiple widget zones, so I could experiment with little things without going and tweaking the theme every time I want to change something.

Oh, and I wanted to call the theme ZemalfZen, or ZZ.

If I ever ended up making the theme public, I could release a free version as ZZ.

And a premium version called "ZZ Top" and make some monnney!

Smart, Eh?

Always thinking ahead me.

Well maybe not, but I do love those Legs. Yeah, it's alright.

What Kind of WP Theme I Ended Up With?

Well, first of all, you're looking at it, so you be the judge of that.

I like the theme and the end result myself, but it's far from the goals I set for myself when I started.

Also, the theme is not as lightweight as I wanted and not as fast-loading as I'd like it to be.

It is grid-based and fully customizable with CSS and I know exactly what's in the theme, so it's easy for me to make any changes I want to it. And the multiple widget zones on the sidebar and footer have worked out perfectly and I've been able to test different things easily.

I also worked a feature into the theme that the sidebar is different for the front page than the other pages. This way I can include some links and lists on the front page, but leave them out from the other pages, like Top Commenter's list.

The great thing is that this is just the beginning and I can continue tweaking the theme to be even better and perhaps in the end I end up with the kind of design and WordPress theme I started out to make.

Even that I have added Tweetmeme and Digg buttons and other features in, I still feel that I'm in the version 0.1 or something...

At least I always have something to do when I have spare time like this :)

I'd probably be better off contentrating on more productive work, but tweaking and adding neat tricks with PHP is just so much fun that I wouldn't have it any other way.

Do You Like The Design? Can't Stand It? Call For Feedback!

The voting for the contest ended at the beginning of October 2009

As I mentioned at the beginning, my blog / design is a nominee in The Best WordPress Design 2009 contest, hosted by the lovely Keller Hawthorne at

In case you like my blog design, my blog and appreciate the fact that this is a homebrew theme and design:

  1. Visit the Best WordPress Design 2009 Contest Page (contest for 2009 has ended)
  2. Scroll towards the end of the page
  3. Vote for "Zemalf" (That's me)

Voting for me on the contest is a great feedback on it's own, but I'd like to hear your thoughts too, so tell me what you think on the comments as well.

EDIT: Thanks for all who voted for me in the competition, I didn't win, or even close, but it was a great experience. Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to Keller once more for hosting such a great contest!

What do you like about the design? What do you don't like at all?

All feedback and questions are more than welcome, so I'll see you in the comments!

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Topic: WordPress Themes
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