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Moderators: martimiz, Sean, Ed, biapar, Willr, Ingo

Maori theme development - Need your opinion!

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17 Posts   15461 Views


Community Member, 16 Posts

19 December 2007 at 5:32am

Edited: 21/12/2007 5:36am


I'm a Portuguese student participating on Google's Highly Open Participation Contest and one of the tasks I've taken requires me to create a theme based on the Maori culture and New Zealand, the country where the SilverStripe project began.

I have to come up with a layout and then implement it.

I'll post here the current design I'm developing and would like to hear what you think about it.

What I'm asking is your opinion on how I can improve it.

Here goes the current design:


This is the most recent version. Please make comments about this one.


Forum Moderator, 628 Posts

19 December 2007 at 10:05am

Edited: 19/12/2007 10:07am

Pasting in Will's comments to keep the discussion here:
"Looks good, Love the background now! The paper texture could be changed to something
more clean maybe a black and reduced so the nav takes up less room - this will be on
our demo site and thats how people preview it so getting it to look as nice as
possible with that amount of content is recommended. Paper tag on the 2nd level nav?
Maybe instead of that do something with a koru - an important symbol too maori rather
then a card board label"

Its an improvement over the original but I think having a bit more coherence and subtly will improve the design. Look at the nuances of, for instance. I think the heading "Maori" could do with a bit more of a specialist font or more tightly integrating into the theme... again look at how parihaka's headings feel so in fitting with their design.


Community Member, 16 Posts

19 December 2007 at 10:22am

Thank you for your opinion Sigurd. I will take it into consideration.

Decisive Flow

Community Member, 73 Posts

19 December 2007 at 10:49am

I like the page background but am not so taken with the header and tabs. They seems a little messy and irrelevant style.

Maybe try bringing these more inline with the rest of the site or making them a little clearer?

Sorry I would offer more constructive feedback, but nothing immediately comes to mind of how exactly to improve it!

Good luck!


Community Member, 16 Posts

19 December 2007 at 11:41am

Thank you for your opinion, Natalie. I really appreciate your contribution. :)


Community Member, 1 Post

19 December 2007 at 1:11pm

Good start João!

I should preface by saying I don't know much about Maori themes and styles, so strictly speaking, I will be coming from a design standpoint and looking at how to strengthen your choices here. I may be a bit long winded, so I apologize in advance :P.

The first is try to think of the layout using a grid. This doesn't have to be visible to the users as lines, but giving a cohesion to all the elements will really help. A great visualization of this can be seen here:
That is a blog post by a designer describing his use of grid. He uses a red overlay to show where the grid exists, but in actuality it is used as a guide during his design and coding process. He doesn't use the red columns anywhere on the site for look, just on that particular page to show his example. There is also an excellent PDF on that page describing grid and it's uses much more in depth.

To apply this to your mockup, I would suggest using your top nav as perhaps the starting point for this grid. You have a series of elements that can serve as a foundation for column widths. You can use a series of columns to horizontally line up where elements will fall on your page. This will give it a much stronger visual cohesion as people read the page top to bottom.

Something a bit more specific, I like the use of serif'd fonts in your top nav, I would suggest playing with serif'd fonts in your document as well. It will lend to that natural feel you are trying to push with this design. San-Serif fonts often represent technology and machinery, and therefore may not be the best choice in this design.

I reflect some of the earier posts regarding the header. A cleaner integration on the font will help tremendously, perhaps making it bigger, losing the drop shadow and finding a way to get it to creatively interact with your green banner.

Some questions I have are, why the use of paper? What does it represent?

If these are all very implortant themes, then try to integrate it better. It looks like you spent a bit more time on the top nav, header and background than you did on the content portion. Try to think creatively on how to deal with your content and secondary nav. These could really play or work into each other so they can somehow connect visually.

Some techniques I use when I design, I constantly ask myself why I am doing what I am doing because I often find myself falling back on old tricks and techniques that don't necesarily work with my new work. I do not mean to imply that you are doing this, but it will serve you to always justify everything in your design, and not just 'because it looks good'. You could grab a hundred awesome looking pieces of different websites and throw them onto the same page, that won't make a good website.

Anyways, I hope this gives you some ideas and answers some questions you have been having! Kudos for having the guts to post your work publically and have it be critiqued by the general public!

Keep up the good work!


Community Member, 16 Posts

20 December 2007 at 1:04am

Amadeus, you gave me absolutely fabulous suggestions!

I already knew a bit about the grid and I was trying to integrate it but somehow it never seemed to fit.

I'll start working right away. Thank you all for your contribution.

It really means A LOT.


Community Member, 16 Posts

20 December 2007 at 6:01am

I've taken your opinions into consideration and made a revision.

However, I still feel there is something I could improve but I don't know exactly what.

Tell me what you think.

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