Tuesday April 12, 2005

Seeds of Inspiration.

Anyone whe knows me also knows that I am nearly always up for a good design challenge. At the very beginning of February, I was approached by Cameron Moll and asked if I would be interested in participating in a project for Zaadz, an online business solutions provider. Zaadz had enlisted Cameron’s help in designing and developing website templates and he, in turn, enlisted the likes of Jason Santa Maria, Ryan Sims, Brian Biddle, Bryan Bell and myself to shoulder some of the workload.

Zaadz was looking for standards-compliant web templates in order to populate its Biz Builder web service, a service akin to but not exactly like Blogger. Businesses would be able to purchase a comprehensive web package which includes, among other things, a variety of templates to build their website. Each template was to don a title of historical and inspirational relevance so that Zaadz users could select a template that perhaps matched up with their own vision and aspirations.

This project was different than others I’ve worked on. Specifically, it was most challenging in that all of the templates had to be nearly identical in naming convention and HTML structure so that the developers at Zaadz could develop a smooth backend system. I suppose, in many ways, it was like designing for the CSS Zen Garden, but with a little more markup leeway. At any rate, it took a fair bit of attention to detail to ensure that the final deliverables were up to snuff, that all the ID’s and classes were correctly named, and that all the CSS was properly divied up between several stylesheets. Each template had to be capable of switching its number of columns and its color scheme by simply redefining a stylesheet path or changing a class name.

The design I worked up may very well be the most minimalistic work I’ve ever produced, and yet it turned out to be one of my favorites. Upon learning of the historical/inspirational theme of the template project, I chose to title my template Mount Vernon, after the famous name of George Washington’s home. My reasoning behind choosing that name was a bit shallow, to be honest; I was using various visual elements such as architectural mouldings and decorative plaster pieces reminiscent of the early Colonial era in my design, and the name of Washington’s hilltop home just kind of came to me as I worked. The Mount Vernon template is meant to convey a sense of understated elegance, using bold blocks of color in the header and footer and light yet defining graphic elements in the content areas.

» View the Mount Vernon template

Please do take the opportunity to check out the whole team’s stellar template work:

Zaadz has been gracious enough to allow the designers to post the actual HTML templates instead of screenshots. Please be cool and don’t take advantage of their generosity. Feel free to take a look under the hood and see how everything is built; it could actually be quite fascinating and educational. Thank you.

Commentary


Abel Rios » 4511 days ago #

Wow. This is some slick stuff. Really superb work from you and all of the guys.

rob » 4510 days ago #

yeah jared, great work man. I really dig the designs.

Andy Budd » 4510 days ago #

And very nice work it is to. Congratulations.

chuck » 4510 days ago #

I’m sure it was a cool experience for you, Jared.

Great work!

Gordon » 4510 days ago #

And what was I toying with doing just last night (or the night before) – creating a set of colour and layout CSS that I could setup to be ‘switched’ by end users.

Inspiration indeed – and looks great!

Rob Costlow » 4510 days ago #

Nice work Jared! Well done. Love the templates.

Rob Costlow

Aaron » 4510 days ago #

Hey Jared,

Thanks again for your work on the project. Your template came out beautifully and I particularly appreciated the historical significance ;)

-Aaron

Thomas B. Aschim » 4510 days ago #

Wow!

Eric » 4510 days ago #

Will these templates be released to the textpattern community? Remember those old templates that Dean had included with the very original version? They were rather stale. With these, not even close…

They’re bloody freaking fabulous.

Linda » 4510 days ago #

Mmm! Sharp and crisp. Love that zigzag detailing on the top and the flourishes separating the sections. Nice!
– Linda

Jared Christensen » 4510 days ago #

Eric – These templates are the property of Zaadz. However, the logic and structure behind them isn’t. While “ripping” any design is certainly not an option, learning from them is. As has been pointed out in some of the other designers’ writeups, these designs were never meant to be groundbreaking. The principles behind them can be applied to almost any new template creation.

rick johnson » 4510 days ago #

very nice looking site, thanks for all your work with the zaadz project. keep up the great job, you guys are the best
rj

Eric » 4508 days ago #

Umm.. Perhaps you misread my above comment. I simply asked if there were any intentions to release them to the Textpattern community. Perhaps I should have read the statement above them a bit more carefully and wouldn’t have needed to ask. I did not ask if I, or anyone, had permission to “rip” these works.

Learn something new about people everyday I suppose. Thanks for the flame.

Jared Christensen » 4508 days ago #

My apologies, Eric. My reply wan’t meant to insinuate that you would rip a design. Rather, my point was that even though the designs would not be available to the Textpattern community, creating similar designs would not be difficult. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Dave » 4506 days ago #

You definitely seem to bring a lot of creative inspiration to the team! Love how you think “outside the box” with your design. Lovely.

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