WordPress 2.0 Theme Competition – winners announced

I’ve got a cold and accidentally took Night Nurse instead of Day Nurse, so apart from the general blearghness of the cold, I’m a bit dopey. If I start rambling incoherently, you know why.

But that isn’t what I was going to say. The winners of the WordPress theme competition I entered have been announced. No prize for me. No surprise there; my theme was probably rather too simple and rather too derivative of Kubrick, quite apart from the fact I only discovered too late that it didn’t display properly on some versions of IE/Windows.

Some comments about the themes that did win, which hopefully don’t come across as sour grapes:

The overall winner was Durable. I’ve mentioned this before when I was talking about Ajax. I think the use of Ajax is indeed very impressive, although the most striking thing – allowing users to change every detail of the colouring – seems like a bit of a gimmick. Aesthetically I think it’s fine but not exceptional. Overall, though, a fair winner.

Runner up was Kurtina. Personally I think this is a near-miss. The visual focus seems wrong to me; the strong blue-green draws the eye to the top of the sidebar and the line under the header, rather than either the title of the blog or the content. Just tweaking the colours would help a lot. I do think the trend to have the first entry in full and the following ones as exceprts is quite a good one though.

2nd runner up was Ambiru. This might be my favourite. Classy, stylish, attractive. Very nice.

Most Creative was Foliage. I thought this could have scored higher as well. It doesn’t seem to work very consistently in the theme browser, but assuming that’s just a problem with the browser, I like this a lot. It looks cool, the way all the sidebar stuff is hidden in a drop-down box at the top of the screen makes a lot of sense, and the focus is firmly on the content. Nice.

Best three-column design went to Tiga which, frankly, is a complete mess. It seems to be heavily customisable (colours, fonts, header size) through the Admin panel, which is nice for users who don’t like mucking around with their CSS, but it shows no sign of actual design at all.

Best two-column design went to Disconnected. I don’t get it. I mean, I don’t see what the theme is trying to do. It has lots of styling but no coherent look, for me. The diagonal stripey bits at the bottom of the sidebar boxes seem particularly pointless.

Best see of coloursDapit Hapon. Here, I have to strongly disagree with the judges. I think this is an example of very bad use of colour. The colours chosen don’t particularly complement each other – although they’re all browns, they’re rather different browns and they don’t work well together. But nor do they provide strong effective contrasts. A very odd choice.

Best Liquid DesignDarkPad. Well, it’s a liquid design. I don’t think it has much else going for it.

With CSS, it makes it very easy to style every element of your design separately – lists, links, columns, posts, comments, etc etc. I think the most common failing of people’s themes is that they actually do that; everything is styled in some way; a little border, a background colour, a graphic. And even if each detail is very subtle and tasteful, the combined effect of every part of the design being styled is usually that it’s a mess.