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.

8 Comments

  1. 18 May 2006 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Kurtinal looks sort of like a generic Blogger blog to me. The Durable would be good for an amateur like me — clean and easy to install and maintain, I’d think. Readable. I don’t mind your white on black sidebar but for blocks of text, I want black on white.

  2. Harry
    18 May 2006 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    The reason Kurtina looked like a generic blog was that I accidentally gave the wrong link so it was in fact the WordPress default theme. I’ve edited the link above, which should have gone here.

    Durable wasn’t my favourite of those entered, but it’s certainly a nice piece of work.

  3. Harry
    18 May 2006 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    I got the link for DarkPad wrong as well. The NIght Nurse really must have been getting to me.

    I’ve corrected it above.

  4. 19 May 2006 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Okay — I agree with your assessment about Kurtina. Plus I think that the items on the navigation bar get lost in color.

  5. 29 May 2006 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Mr. Uber-critical. Try not to be such a bad loser and move on.

  6. Harry
    29 May 2006 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Hey Rusty. Sorry it came across that way. I honestly just find it interesting analysing this kind of thing.

  7. 29 May 2006 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Harry, please take this the right way…

    Why don’t you run a contest. Really, I am not being a smart-alec. Beside putting your own twist on the judging, it appears to have an awesome blog draw. Since you took the time to view and critique the entries, you might as well run one yourself.

    As an aside, I really like the design of this blog, easy to navigate and aesthetically clean and simple.

    Lastly, thank you for being brave enough to post my previous comment. The weak-stomached blogger would have just deleted the comment all together.

    Cheers.

  8. Harry
    29 May 2006 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi again.

    I wouldn’t delete your comment because apart from anything else, if I’m going to publically review/criticise people’s designs, it only seems fair to allow the right of reply.

    I don’t think I’ll be running a competition; apart from the fact that we’ve only just had one, one of the reasons I like WordPress is that there’s an active community producing plug-ins and themes all the time.

    I’m glad you like the design of the blog. I think it makes sense to run the content all the way to the top of the screen and push the ‘header’ to one side.