A quick makeover

Last week I teamed up with Lullabot for a super awesome give-away: five copies of my latest book (which *I* don't even have a copy of yet) were given away via Twitter. The contest is closed, but follow @diwd as I'm pretty sure they've got something else up their sleeve (*hint*hint*).

What does this have to do with a make-over? Well. Some time ago I whipped together a quick (and really dirty) theme for my personal site. I was trying to separate my "tech" writing from my "human" (craft/cooking/gardening) writing for various reasons that made a lot of sense at the time. And then I got really busy doing a lot of other things and pretty much stopped blogging. (Sound familiar?) I'd been trying to think of a way to solve the front page, but it was just never really a priority.

Until last Friday. Sweet mother of a cow, the twitter contest for my new book was pointing to my really awful home page! So I started trawling through free Drupal themes and static templates and I may have even started looking at WP themes that I could convert to Drupal. None of them were quite right. I was sad. My personal home page was still ugly and I didn't know how to fix it.

Google Alerts to the rescue. Today I got an alert for "Drupal theming" that Drupal Style had updated their site. I clicked through to see what they were up to and found the PERFECT theme for my needs.

Here are the modifications I made:

  • Created custom images for the featured blocks (one for each of the books, one for twitter and one for my very neglected blog). In case you're curious, the twitter bird is from here; and the RSS icon is from there (a great set which Eaton told me about).
  • Custom block template files to put the images in the right spots for the two module-provided blocks on the right.
  • Customized the template page-front.tpl.php to remove the content variable (it's still a D6 site) and update the page title.
  • Customized the template page.tpl.php to move the "featured blocks" region to the bottom of the page, and completely removed the banner from inside pages. (This means I don't have to worry about customizing the blocks to only show on some pages.)
  • Updated the CSS to make the content appear as dark text on a light background (matches the mostly white front page) and adjusted the height of the featured footer blocks.

I'm sure I'll continue to make the odd tweak here and there, but that's basically it.

Total time from finding the theme to relaunch: about three hours. Total time to find a starting theme that "clicked" for me: at least three months.

Have you got a similar story about finding the perfect theme? I'd love to hear it--leave your story in the comments (don't forget to link to your site and the theme you used).

Drupal User's Guide

Drupal User's Guide

Site building for Drupal 7. Includes in-depth information on Drupal's most popular site building modules, SEO and accessibility. Two complete case studies are included in the book along with the tools you'll need to build (almost) any Web site with Drupal.

Available from Amazon.com.

Front End Drupal

Front End Drupal

The industry go-to for learning theming in Drupal 6. A great companion to Lullabot's book, Using Drupal.

Available from Amazon.com.

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