Rebranding chaper 03: Post-holidays thoughts

Winter mode / Summer mode

I have realized something which I find fascinating: It is the third winter in a row, when I find myself inexplicably drawn to coding and digital design. As you may have already noticed, I’ve got several fields of interest, ranging from very analytical (UX planning and design, programming, etc.) to more artsy (drawing, painting and such). I never noticed this before, but looking at the past few years, I’m beginning to recognize a pattern here. In the spring and summer months I tend to draw, sketch, paint – tangibly putting pencil, brush or pen to paper. And in the autumn and winter months I am more occupied with planning user behaviour, flow-charting, programming, designing via software, digitally manipulating artworks.
I’m not resisting it. I think the two aspects complement each other nicely. I will however continue to observe these inclinations.

Searching for the right tool for the job

I’ve created a game for my father’s birthday, a family activity – an interactive PDF presentation, complemented by printed cards to fill in. I really enjoyed creating and “programming” it in Adobe InDesign. When that was done, I was still itching to continue, and naturally turned to the website’s redesign.
I am not too pleased with the way the website is at the moment, but have been having a hard time implementing changes in this existing theme. I’ve got some knowledge in HTML and in CSS, but WordPress calls PHP files and Javascript files, and it’s really difficult for me to figure out which file is called when, and where I should make my changes.

So, instead of making changes to the existing theme, I’ve started looking for ways to redesign the whole site. I started in Adobe InDesign, as I had so much fun working on the game in that program, and I pretty much know my way around there. But InDesign is not an ideal tool for making websites. While it is possible, it generates a “heavy” code, not ideal. Next I turned to Muse. Muse is adobe’s website creation software for designers – a sort of WYSIWYG tool, while Dreamweaver is the tool for coders. After a brief investigation, I realized a Muse website may be quite heavy. I noticed that many sites which were mentioned in “Best Muse animations websites” articles – had undergone changes, and the version in those articles no longer exists. A big red alarm.

Besides, I’m extremely pleased with WordPress and found out I can’t use Muse to just create the design for my WordPress site, but rather Muse is a platform for creating a whole site and that I will need to host it on Adobe’s servers. Ok… taking slow steps back, and when the coast is clear – turning back and running. I don’t want to depend on Adobe too much, and don’t want a heavy-loading, dirty-coded website. I’m sticking with WordPress.

Headway to the rescue

I can’t recall exactly how I learned about Headway Themes, I read about it somewhere (in a ‘Muse vs. Headway vs. Something’ sort of article, most likely).
I simply couldn’t believe this has been in existence for several years now and I’ve never even heard about it! Possibly it didn’t start out so great, and maybe improved only recently, but still.

Why am I so enthusiastic?

Headway theme is defined as a ‘drag-and-drop’ theme. It consists of a visual interface which lets you create wrappers and blocks of content, and place them pretty much anywhere you want. You design your own layout, to all or any page you want. You use the editor to style them to your liking. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it?
For people looking to create their own design from scratch – I think it may be ideal. If you’re looking for a pre-designed theme to fill with your content and possibly implement small changes – this is not the solution for you.

So this is where I’m at right now.
Headway takes quite a bit of learning (for me), and I’ve still to decide on the best structure and navigation, from a UX point of view, and of course on the look and feel I’m after. I’m still in Photoshop making roughs.

Will update in Chaper 04!

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