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.
Please do take the opportunity to check out the whole team’s stellar template work:
- Cameron’s writeup and templates
- Jason’s writeup and templates
- Ryan’s templates
- Bryan’s writeup and templates
- Brian’s writeup and templates
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.