Essential Keystrokes Gets FlexxedBy
I have been talking about a redesign for this site for some time, partially because as a designer, I was getting tired of my old design and because the theme I had used as its base was starting to show its age everytime I did a WordPress upgrade (probably two clicks from self-destruction!)
The big question was what to use for this version. I opted not to create a custom theme from scratch because frankly, I don’t have time to reinvent a wheel that already works great. There are so many great free and premium themes readily available to use as a base, starting from scratch really didn’t make sense.
As one of Brian Gardner’s recommended designers for his Revolution series of themes, Revolution was a front runner for quite some time. I know it inside and out. Its well coded, highly customizable and I’m rather partial to it.
I had been hearing a lot about Cory Miller’s Flexx theme (part of iThemes) and how customizable it is for the average small business owner, blogger, or non-code loving designer. Some of my clients were buzzing about it and I was getting requests to do Flexx customizations. How could I make recommendations, do efficient customizations, and really do my clients’ work justice if I hadn’t really put Flexx through the paces yet myself?
RESULT… Essential Keystrokes has been re-flexx-ed.
I knew I wanted to keep the same basic header design, but I wanted fresh colors, a sleeker palette and greater flexibility. After browsing my favorite color palette inspiration sites (Color Schemer and Colour Lovers), I came up with about 7 different header variations and sent them out to my friends and advisors for input. The color scheme that is on the header now was the almost unanimous favorite for everyone so it won.
So, what makes Flexx so special? Flexx has its own customization screens that allow you to upload 1-5 different header images from your WordPress admin panel. In other words – no FTP needed. Additionally, you can pick the background color and pattern the same way – and it will give you a preview of the color/background pattern before you opt to save it.
Then comes the layout menu. It is totally point, click, what you see is what you get, so easy your tween could do it. Want your pages listed above your header image? You can choose it. Want pages and categories below the header? No problem. Not sure how your site will look with 2 columns? How about 3? Point, click, and watch the layout diagram change before your eyes. It doesn’t get much easier that that. (For a full description, screen shots and more check out these posts: Web Chicklet Flexx review, WP Fun’s Flexx review)
Each of the compartments in the layout are controlled by widgets. This is another feature that makes it easy for the average web site owner to customize the look and content of their site without needing to modify PHP files or knowing how to FTP files up to the server (although this is a good skill to learn and its as easy as 1-2-3).
Over the next few weeks, I will be integrating my work portfolio, hire me details, and tweaking the content in the different areas of the site, but for the time being I am very happy with how it turned out. Not to mention, I have now got a really good feeling for what makes this theme tick and can efficiently customize it for clients.