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Not so easy to make, but big easy to use

Written by Mark Forrester on July 27, 2009 Product News.

Dan Rubin Theme Collaboration

We’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with another hugely popular half-English web designer – this time the graphic designer, web developer, musician and Apple enthusiast Dan Rubin. This collaboration has brewed and matured over months and months, in fact we got our first preview of this theme in November last year! Hopefully this demonstrates to a lot of users that we don’t rush our themes in order to release two a month – quality and quantity go hand in hand here at WooThemes.

Dan is a genius when it comes to web design, he gives a lot of careful thought to his designs and with Big Easy his personal style shines through. For his alternate styles to Big Easy he scanned and tweaked an old (circa 1970s) leather case with some lovely stitching, and a book cover from 1934 to form large repeating patterns. For the neat typography Dan introduced us to Cufon and implemented it meticulously with some “graceful degradation of text-shadow” <– You know you are working with a hot shot designer when he throws in words like that!

By April we had the final html/css files from Dan… with a note:

This one really tossed me some strange problems along the way, sorry it took longer to code up than I expected. It’s also been almost a year since I did any serious XHTML/CSS production, and some of the stuff in this template is completely new territory for me (there are a few combinations that I doubt anyone has been stupid enough to try 😉

Looking at the theme now, sitting pretty on our demo server we are so chuffed by Dan’s hard work, and we are sure you are going to love working with it too. Writing the theme documentation this morning I got to really test drive this wonderful theme that Dan neatly coded and Fox managed to work his WordPress magic into. With a completely widgetized home page that can be shuffled around to your pleasing with 3 custom widgets, and 6 custom widgets for the sidebar widgetized space the potential to make this theme your own is really quite limitless.

Enough talk though, have a look at some of those beautiful alternate textures below and then head on over to the theme listing page for more information.

The box alternate style
The box alternate style
The case alternate style
The case alternate style

69 Responses

  1. Milan Petrovic
    July 27, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    It’s good to see new themes, but I am sorry to say, this is one of the rare Woothemes I don’t like. Previous free Mainstream theme looks much more like a serious premium theme than this one. Also, I think that I have see free theme recently that looks much like this theme.

    Anyway, looking forward to more new themes.

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 27, 2009 at 8:36 am #

      We’re so used to not everyone liking the new themes by now… So no surprises there… 🙂

      And I’d love to see the free themes that rival Big Easy in terms of awesome design & amazing functionality.

      • Nik
        July 29, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

        Just love it, thanks folks!

  2. imcsa
    July 27, 2009 at 8:43 am #

    Great them, but be careful, the link you provide for Dan Rubin website is listed as malicious:

    • Mark Forrester
      July 27, 2009 at 10:38 am #

      I did notice that too. Hopefully Dan is now aware of that and corrects it soon.

      • Chris Harrison
        July 27, 2009 at 10:43 am #

        He’s aware of it and has reported the error to Google a number of times. If I’m not mistaken, I think it’s due to him being on a shared server or something…

      • Adii Rockstar
        July 27, 2009 at 12:45 pm #

        Yeah, I’m sure this is a problem with Google… Doesn’t seem like Dan Rubin is the malicious kind of guy at all… 🙂

  3. Stefan
    July 27, 2009 at 8:51 am #

    I don’t agree with Milan, the theme looks quite good. But obviously, any of the CSS dropshadows are missing in IE (tested in v8). Will this be fixed later on or will i have to deal with that?

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 27, 2009 at 8:58 am #

      As far as I know IE doesn’t support dropshadows, so if you’re keen on IE support, then you’re going to have to live without the dropshadow support… 🙂

      • Chris Harrison
        July 27, 2009 at 10:43 am #

        Nice answer 😉 Fuck IE.

        • Adii Rockstar
          July 27, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

          Ooo… The profanity…

          We still support IE (even IE6) with all of our themes, because even though we want to drop support for IE6, our users don’t; so we support it and it’s part of the awesome support you buy from WooThemes.

          BUT… We can’t guarantee that every theme will look just as awesome in every single browser. Fact is, if Microsoft is behind and don’t properly support dropshadows, then our themes simply have the degrade that functionality in IE.

          • Gustavo
            July 28, 2009 at 10:46 pm #

            Ohhh, IE makes it harder for us web designers, but we have to understand that people love “dinosaurs”, and they want to try keep them alive! 😉 IE was invented about “212 internet years” ago, Hahaha …oh well. It will die one day, and I can’t wait! I reality, it’s for the better of people, but most don’t understand, or are just too lazy to upgrade / afraid of changes.

            …Anyways, whatever the opinions are here on this new theme, I love it! Everyone is different, and for me, I wasn’t really too excited for the previous 5 releases, but now this one I think I might use have a projecct for it! Once again, WooThemes rock. Thanks a lot 🙂

          • Andy
            July 29, 2009 at 3:23 pm #

            This is a sound and practical methodology and way of thinking and we have the exact same view and approach. Because you produce for the masses, IE deserves to be supported for the people using the product which is a rather diverse group.

            It can look different and the visual experience be degraded, but it must always function the same from a users perspective. ie, drop down menus must work, but don’t need the fancy shadows.

            Great theme by the way, finite detail and a very different design indeed! Good to see a new collaboration as well.

          • Andy
            July 29, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

            oops, did I say finite.. I meant infinite detail… doh

            What I like about this theme is the attention to detail and great use of typography throughout.

      • Bookworm
        July 27, 2009 at 1:25 pm #

        It does actually, just not as a normal css2 property it is a filter . Problem is I’m not sure if this is supported on VML elements which Cufon utilizes to create text on IE. It is likely possible to use a work around where you actually use the normal shadow filter; apply it to the text(not the VMl elements) and then insert it behind the VML elements, not sure if that would look perfect though. I’ll take a look at the theme tonight and might send along a mod to add shadow support for IE. If nothing else I’m going to mod the theme to use sIFR instead because IE support is a requirement for most of my projects, & clients don’t really care about canvas/vml VS flash.

        • Dan Rubin
          July 27, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

          The Cufon text doesn’t have text-shadow applied, so there shouldn’t be a need to switch to sIFR (this is on purpose 🙂

          So if you feel like adjusting the CSS to add text-shadow via the IE filter, you’ll only be adding it to HTML text rendered by the browser, which means less work for you 🙂

  4. adam
    July 27, 2009 at 9:12 am #

    I love this theme ! kick ass lock stock Awesome ! you’d be hard pressed to find a better theme in terms of aesthetic and fatness then “the Big Easy” i can think of many people who would love this!! and BTW chunky fat typography is here to stay ! very well done WOO

    • Mark Forrester
      July 27, 2009 at 10:40 am #

      Glad you like it Adam. We are huge fans of chunky bold text. Dan is not afraid of straying off the common path and breaking some web 2.0 conventions.

      • Adii Rockstar
        July 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm #

        Web 2.0? Huh? Adii doesn’t compute… 🙂

  5. Annie Anderson
    July 27, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    I like the colors and the elements and stuff; just not real crazy about the layout. It looks sort of “off” but I can’t pinpoint exactly what makes it seem that way . . .

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 27, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

      I think with the sidebar being on the left and the design not really having a clear header, it may feel a bit off. But for me, therein lies the uniqueness of this design and that’s exactly why we work with designers like Dan Rubin; we don’t want every new design to look like the previous one.

      But I can definitely share your sentiment of the design feeling “off”… I just see that in a very positive light! 🙂

  6. Premium Theme Info
    July 27, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    Why not right side bar? I think most have been used to the right side bar!

  7. Deb Cikovic
    July 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    I cannot wait to get into designing from this one. Tons of possibilities; not the usual header – box/box – footer concept.

    Is it me or is anyone else having issues getting the psd to download from the developer dashboard?

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 27, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

      Not just you… We haven’t uploaded the PSD yet… So sorry about that and it’ll be there tomorrow.

  8. Sarah Gooding
    July 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    I’m not a fan of the new theme because of the loud and crowded typography. I can’t imagine any instance in which this theme would be useful to my clients. One thing that it does have going for it is that it is not so blatantly “Woo” looking …and by that I mean it has a totally different look than your other themes. I’m happy to see you all branching out in different directions of design. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat awaiting your Magento themes!! 🙂

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 27, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

      What!? Big typography is all the rage right now.

      Maybe Big Easy is so well designed, that only design purists can really appreciate the coolness in the design itself, along with the incredible CSS? Just asking…

      • Sarah Gooding
        July 27, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

        I’m definitely not in the rank of design purists 😉 So I respect your opinion. My purposes are much more boring and practical – small businesses who are just realizing that they need a website. I know, it’s sad, but that’s the constituent I serve the most.

        • Adii Rockstar
          July 27, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

          Hehe, well small businesses that need website are by far the biggest userbase of our themes. So whilst Big Easy is most definitely not targeted at 90% of those users, our other themes are, which means we get to release stuff like Big Easy, which is slightly out-of-the-box. 🙂

  9. Stefan
    July 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    This is not my taste. The first thing I noticed is the search function displaying three times the word ‘search’. Overdone… First impression is too much text.

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 27, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

      I’m sure if you’re not a fan of Big Easy, then one of our other 39 themes will suit your fancy? 🙂 –>

      • Stefan
        July 29, 2009 at 1:25 pm #

        Sure, that’s what I like about woothemes: for anyone any theme.

  10. Dan Rubin
    July 27, 2009 at 12:58 pm #

    Hey all, thanks for the comments (both positive *and* negative) about Big Easy — it was fun to design, and though it may *look* a bit basic in places, that was one of my goals: heavy texture, low-ish bandwidth requirements, a little dynamic font replacement, and a simple layout that fits a wide range of uses.

    As for my site’s Google warning, take note: Google hasn’t removed my site from its “malware” listings, which is nearing a libelous situation at this point (as evidenced by the various daily mentions of the warning). Dreamhost’s servers were, at one point, vulnerable to attacks that injected iframe’s into index.php and all .htm/.html files in a server’s directory structure (meaning *all* the people hosting sites on that shared server). My site was affected a few times in the past, but always cleaned up the minute I noticed something was wrong (a number of other popular bloggers had similar problems — this wasn’t a one-off thing). Dreamhost eventually fixed their server issues, and I haven’t seen any successful attacks since, but my site is still listed (and yes, it’s clean).

    Take their warnings with a grain of salt — or just do what I’ve done, and turn off that “feature” in your browser until Google has worked out the kinks.

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm #

      Come on Dan… Don’t lie… We know you’re trying to push some shady and seedy our way via your website… Just admit it… We know you’re hiding something! 🙂

      On a more serious note… We’ve become accustomed to receiving both amazingly positive and slightly negative remarks for our theme releases. Fact of the matter is, the reason we have 40 themes in our collection, is to allow us to cater to most people’s needs. On an individual theme-per-theme basis that will however not happen and everyone won’t like a theme. People who are however trained to really critique a design will recognize the awesomeness inherit in this design (not that you need to be told that though).

    • Michael Dick
      July 27, 2009 at 1:14 pm #

      Apparently Google knows Dan better than we thought :). hahaha.

  11. Dan Rubin
    July 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    Also, for those folks who are perhaps a bit put off by the various non-standard elements of this template — I designed it with the intent of giving users (that’s you!) more flexibility with the customization of various elements: If you’re familiar with HTML/CSS, you can adjust almost everything without breaking the base look and feel (careful application of some CSS3 helps in that area); if you don’t like the Cufon-replaced dynamic typeface, you can replace it with one of your own choosing (Cufon is easy to use, just remember to check the licensing on the typeface you want to use).

    As this is a template, much of the default text (e.g. the Search area) is there to guide you, and to be replaced by whatever you prefer: WordPress templates are easy to edit/tweak, and copywriting decisions should be related to the content more than to the design.

    In all, remember that this is a template system that lends itself to being bent and twisted to your will, giving you more flexibility and room for customization than some other designs. I hope you all decide to dig in and give it a try! 🙂

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 27, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

      Maybe we should include this phrase somewhere in official WooThemes copy, because this mirrors our exact thinking in terms of our themes:

      In all, remember that this is a template system that lends itself to being bent and twisted to your will, giving you more flexibility and room for customization than some other designs.

  12. Edward McIntyre
    July 27, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

    It seems like a decent base, but would need extensive customization to stand up to some of the other wooThemes themes.

    The text spacing(or lack of), the underlines, the mixture of serif and san-serif fonts, the over sized sidebar headers. It all looks a little out of place, and visually muddy to me.

    If this theme is in fact intended to be a base, as Dan suggests; I would expect it to be a little more refined. Although, I do enjoy some of the layout decisions presented. The style is a turn off for me, and I feel it would take a more time to create a workable style then I expect from a paid theme.

    I believe this layout and style may sit better with the community, if it was not staged as a portfolio site; but rather a blog. WooThemes has really been pushing the fact that good designers use there templates. I believe if this is true, the style has fell bellow the bar.

    For subscribers this may be a fun theme to play around with, but it will be a hard sell for $70US.

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

      Let’s talk in 3 months time, when I’ll tell you how much copies we sold and your theory about it being a hard sell would’ve been proved wrong… 🙂

      Honestly though, the only concrete opinion I get from your comment, is that Big Easy is just not your preference. This theme is super-customizable and I’m almost 100% sure that the Showcase will reflect this in the months to come.

      • Edward McIntyre
        July 27, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

        wow. I offer a customer view, in a response to a request for comments. As a customer I would hope that you take any comments seriously.

        The thought that all I offered was “Big Easy is just not your preference” is disheartening. I am not a jealous designer, a rival site, or a troublemaker.

        I am a customer, supporter, and recommender of wooThemes. I only took the time out of my day to completely look over the theme, and offer some criticism; because there was a request for comments, and I care about your business.

        • Adii Rockstar
          July 27, 2009 at 2:37 pm #

          We love discussion and if we didn’t, I would’ve never responded to your initial comment. My style is to provoke you to comment again, because that way I get a more in-depth opinion from you. So I’m sorry if my challenging of your opinion came across as being offensive, because it’s really not… 🙂

          Also consider, that after 40 theme releases we take negative (albeit constructive) criticism with a pinch of salt. We would not have been able to release 40 themes if we couldn’t pick the themes that would or wouldn’t sell.

          Is Big Easy gonna be one of our all-time best sellers? I don’t think so… But is it a massively cool and amazingly well-designed theme? For sure!

          • Edward McIntyre
            July 27, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

            You did not challenge, as much as you did disregard. I read your blog, and do understand this is your style, and believe there is no point in butting headeds over personal semantics.

            I was merely suggesting, I believe the initial presentation could be cleaner, stronger, and put better emphasis the themes flexibility.

            I agree, the Showcase is an amazing tool. It will in time show the quality and flexibility, that was never in question. That said, I also believe there is merit in what is presented, and not just what can be archived.

            There is no denying, wooThemes produces quality products. If it was in the budget, I would love play with this. There is no denying that.

          • Adii Rockstar
            July 27, 2009 at 3:26 pm #

            I’ll tell you what… Drop us an e-mail (info[at] and I’ll give you a free copy of Big Easy, which you can play around with… Thereafter, we’d love to hear what you think! 🙂

    • Lynne Nicholson
      July 28, 2009 at 8:44 am #

      I just wanted to say – I agree with Edward’s comment about Big Easy perhaps being better utilised as a blog/personal site. The porfolio/slideshow thing is the one thing that leaves me going – “what do I do with that?”. I would normally use the portfolio sections of themes for showcasing photos or digital art projects, but I have no idea what I would use that slideshow feature for.

      – I know a lot of people will have a use for it, but I sort of wish there was another option for a more traditional image gallery.

      The other thing I can’t find – and forgive me if I’m being stupid and it IS there – is an example of an image in a blog post? I’m a personal blogger, I like to put video and music and photos in my posts as a starting point. So for me, when I come to buy a new theme, I want to know how it will handle media or extra widgets like the lifestream widget, and how I can customise it. I’m not much of a coder, so I can’t even begin to tell you how useful it is for me to take Woo themes to bits and learn how they work and what I can alter.

      I was hoping to pounce on Big Easy, as I love Dan Rubin’s work and I love the styling on this theme. While I agree it looks fantastic, I honestly have no idea how I personally would use it.

      • Adii Rockstar
        July 28, 2009 at 8:50 am #

        I know a lot of people will have a use for it, but I sort of wish there was another option for a more traditional image gallery.

        What in terms of the “traditional image gallery” is different from the “portfolio” bits?

        I also think, that even though we label this theme as being a blog + portfolio combo, it can be used for anything that utilizes both written content, along with more visual combo.

        As for the in-content images… We’ll update the content of the blog to demo these better. Just a little slip-up from our side! 🙂

        • Lynne Nicholson
          July 28, 2009 at 9:04 am #

          I think I mentioned it already – the slideshow feature. It’s a lovely feature, and it’s perfect for web designers, but as I have already said, I am not a web designer 🙂 Playing about with it again makes me wonder if it could be used for “groups” of photos, but for me personally, I prefer the slimbox/lightbox features as found on Fresh News and many of your older themes, as that works better with what I do.

          I’m not meaning to detract from Big Easy, and I’m looking forward to seeing it appear in the showcase to see how other people have used it. I think that, for me, will be the breaker on me buying it. I do love the styling on it, I just need more convincing that it can work for me and what it looks like when it’s being used.

          • Adii Rockstar
            July 28, 2009 at 9:06 am #

            Kk, gotcha. I just saw the “slideshow gallery” as being a nifty upgrade to a flat gallery, but I understand what you eman now.

  13. ithemesdotnet
    July 27, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    Yet another good looking theme release. Brilliant!

  14. Farrhad
    July 27, 2009 at 2:18 pm #

    This is one really classy theme!
    I really like the color scheme.


  15. Jon
    July 27, 2009 at 2:59 pm #

    The theme looks reallt nice! Great jobs guys!
    I think it’s one of my favorites

    • Mark Forrester
      July 28, 2009 at 11:37 am #

      Great to hear it’s one of your favourites! There’s always a mix of comments with a new theme release, but these are the comments we treasure 🙂

  16. Daus
    July 27, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    One thing I love from the design is the details on the background and typography. The layout overally is a standard blog design I suppose.

    • Mark Forrester
      July 28, 2009 at 11:35 am #

      Yeah I love the old weathered book cover background texture. You’ll notice the detail isn’t only in the background and typography it’s in the code. It certainly is neat under the bonnet.

  17. Laszlo Patai
    July 29, 2009 at 5:57 am #

    Nice theme, grats 😉

  18. Ahmed
    July 29, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    I cant call this prof theme or even noob theme

    Woothemes you getting down by offering this kinda of themes the previous free theme was more good than this

    Look at the sidebar navigation its worst navigation i ever see

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 29, 2009 at 8:33 am #

      Thanks for your extremely constructive comment.

    • Edward McIntyre
      July 29, 2009 at 9:34 am #

      I can’t say that I was the most positive, but I agree. This is not helpful at all.

  19. Andrew
    July 29, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    Sorry not liking this at all, can’t see its use. Prefer MainStream

  20. Heather Feimster
    July 29, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    Great job guys! I get a great college/dorm-like feel from this theme. It has a sturdy yet edgy design that I think a lot of people will gravitate toward.

    As for all the negative comments on it not feeling “right”, I think it is just the heavy left sidebar making folks feel like it’s out of balance. If you notice tho, above the “fold” its almost an Asian design with the 1-2 layout (homepage). It’s a different kind of layout that may throw some people off, but I think it provides a nice zen-like proportion that so many web designers forget to think about anymore.

    It would be a great print layout as well. Well done!

  21. Dr. Woo
    July 29, 2009 at 1:55 pm #

    I hate to say it but this theme is not that good. If fact it is very amateurish. You say he has been working on it since November. He must have started it in November and not touched it for eight months and quickly finished it up this month.

    In my opinion WooThemes is lowering the bar with a lot of the newer themes coming out. Just because it uses some sophisticated CSS doesn’t make it great. The free theme Adii just released is MUCH better than this garbage.

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 29, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

      You know what I hate? Anonymous comments… They’re just amateurish…

      • Dr. Woo
        July 29, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

        Why so defensive? If you don’t want anonymous comments then don’t allow them. Simple, isn’t it?

        Your sarcastic comments to the negative comments are a real turn off (as I am sure you will say posting anonymously is too).

  22. liam
    July 29, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

    It’s a fantastic design, I can’t understand why some people are so against it, I really can’t.

    Perhaps people are too quick to shoot something down that isn’t the norm, or something that they are used to seeing, which is a shame.

  23. bob
    July 30, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    I really dont like themes that condense my content into 40% of the page or less – it makes the design more important than the content, which should never be the case.

    • Adii Rockstar
      July 31, 2009 at 12:27 am #

      I’m not entirely sure I understand what you mean? Are you referring to the width of the content column? Horizontal space? Vertical space?

      Just kinda lost… 🙂

  24. Victoria
    August 2, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    Will there be a 404 page that is not broken soon?

    • Adii Rockstar
      August 3, 2009 at 12:55 am #

      Are you referring to our demo or an installation on your server?

      • Victoria
        August 3, 2009 at 11:42 am #

        Both! They are both shifted over (the left hand column into the content side). Thanks for your help.

        • Adii Rockstar
          August 4, 2009 at 1:59 am #

          Great; I’ve reported the bug and we’ll release a fix ASAP.