This week we interview Jeff Finley of GoMediaZine.
GoMediaZine is a group of guys and girls passionate about art and graphic design. Their website is a great resource for any aspiring designer with a massive following. Recently they re-designed their website. We ask Jeff a few questions about why he opted to base their new design on a WooTheme.
Jeff, first up, we’ve got to say that GoMediaZine is our favourite modification of a WooTheme ever and you’ve become somewhat of a flagship of inspiration for us. Can you give us a bit of insight into the design?
Thanks, it means a lot. I chose Fresh News because it had a lot of the functionality already built in and I just needed to tweak the look. I didn’t want to just change colors. It was a big deal for me to infuse a little bit of Go Media’s rich illustrative brand but still keep it clean and well organized. I felt a mild textured look was appropriate but I didn’t want to do a “grunge” design if you know what I mean. I used elements from the memorable Concentric Circles Series that Go Media’s Oliver Barrett did 2 years ago that have become somewhat of a Go Media staple. I figured it was an iconic image that people associated with us, so it fit perfectly. And the hand-drawn-looking “hair” or whatever you want to call it is another design element that I have been using a lot in my work that people kind of recognize as a Go Media thing. We have a “hair” vector pack that is very similar. The choice of a deep purple was a new one for Go Media. In the past, our Go Media sites have been focused on the yellow (which was initially part of our brand), which I honestly think is a hindrance. I want to explore other colors, and naturally purple is yellow’s complimentary color, so it worked nice. The texture came from the back of an old record sleeve. Nice and dirty.
Considering that you guys are into design & development yourself, why did you decide to purchase a commercial theme, instead of developing one from scratch?
We went back and forth. I’m not exactly an expert with WordPress and we also are so busy that developing our own custom sites takes forever. The more we do web development jobs, we realize it’s not worth it to do it ALL yourselves. It cut the time down immensely and I can focus on making a memorable website design, which is what I like to do. I do know enough about WordPress to tweak and hack my way through to get what I want, and if not, I’ve got a few people I can ask. So it seemed like the best option. I had bookmarked about 10 different commercial themes, some more expensive, some cheaper. But I went with Fresh News because it felt fit our needs the most. It wasn’t “perfect” right out of the box, but it was damn close!
Relating to your previous answer: what do you see as the main advantages & disadvantages of buying a commercial theme?
The obvious disadvantage is that everyone else can make a similar site. It’s a template, so other people are going to buy it as well. If you can customize it to where it barely looks like the original, I think that’s a very good thing. When you’re a company like us, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. I was worried about that when I bought Fresh News. But in the end, it can potentially be better for us because we can do Fresh News custom jobs for other people once they see what we’ve done with ours. The main advantages are definitely the speed and ease of getting a working “pro” WordPress site without a whole lot of effort.
The ability to customize our themes extensively, is one of our main selling points. How did you find the process of modifying the theme?
It was fairly easy for me although I have a slightly advanced knowledge of HTML and CSS. There were points where I was stuck and ready to give up, but I think that happens with just about every web job. It was mostly all just a background image the overlayed PNG’s that make the theme really stand out. It’s not too far off the original if you take away that. I have since added some “sidebar widgets” to the footer because the original sidebar was getting too long. That was something that wasn’t readily available in the original theme.
Lastly, what were your strategic aims with the new site and do you feel that the Fresh News theme has helped you achieve those?
We wanted to make it easier for readers to find our content and interact with our site. Our pillar articles are our tutorials and guides/advice on running a design studio. The old site was your typical blog site and it was hard for new visitors to even find those articles. We wanted to take it up a level basically. We also wanted to sell a little advertising, something our old site didn’t support.