Elements or Lower

Thu, 16 Feb 2006

Themes for Window on Woking

When we built Window on Woking, we knew that organisations who signed up to the site would want to be able to customise their pages as much as possible.

So, inspired by the themes system for Blogger, the CSS Zen Garden and, in particular, Zaadz and the Evanescent Design Crew, we decided to try to implement a themes system for Window on Woking.

Internally, and backed up by consultation with the project’s visual designer, Adam Pink, we came to the following conclusions:

  1. Themes would be implemented as an extra CSS file, loaded in addition to the main site styles — a theme would override global rules selectively, changing as much or as little of the default design as the author wished.

  2. Other than the extra <link> to load the theme stylesheet, the HTML of any given page would remain otherwise identical between themes.

  3. The Window on Woking masthead, login panel, primary navigation and footer would all be “sacred” and must remain untouched by any theme.

Having developed the global stylesheet and a set of styles for the Diary of Events, we first asked Adam to design a theme for the Councillors’ pages. This acted as a proof-of-concept for the idea, from which Adam then went on to produce two more themes, which we named Steel and Mediterranean.

I’ve produced four themes myself (Autumn, Air, Meadow and Grass), and we’ve commissioned Mike Stenhouse for two more, one of which (the excellent Corkboard) has now gone live.

Organisations can change theme whenever they wish, but at the time of writing, here are some examples of the seven currently-available themes in use:

We’d like to have a much more extensive library of themes available, however, and so we’re hoping people will get in touch with their ideas. We’re offering 200 for each theme that we commission, although we’re only asking for people to contact us at first if they have an idea.

We’ve put more information about this, including a downloadable theme resources pack, on the Window on Woking site.

Although the budget for each theme is modest, I’m hopeful that we might be able to get some really talented artists contributing to the site.