Great, our first serious template review / template magnified. We'll start off with the latest template I have been working on that's used on this very blog, Green Marinee.
Green Marinee is a WordPress based theme designed by Australian web designer Ian Main. Visit his website/portofolio at http://e-lusion.com/ for other excellent examples of web design.
From top down, Green Marinee has the site name offset with the solid black. Although a logo is not present, the blackground should very well with your own custom logo.
Next, like one of Ian's nonpublic WordPress theme, BrettPro, Green Marinee uses the single strip trend with the lime green strip going across the background. The strip certainly make the background more interesting and further enhancing the drop shadow from the main body. Coninuing with the strip pattern you can see many broad green line going across the template, below the site name, for each sidebar module, even in the links.
The content area of the template is given a large area with good size font and improtant information emphasized with font weight and coloring. Overall very clean and comfortable on the eye. One thing about the main content is that it might get a bit boring as you scroll down leaving with plain white and some drop shadows as the case on this blog. This could might be remedied with fixing the background black and green to the background so when you scroll they don't move.
Unlike some designers who embellish the content the area but neglect the sidebars, it looks like Ian spent some extra time on the sidebars. The sidebar has excellent list icons and lime green module seperators that perfect blend with the template. Green Marinee even has second level list icons.
Finally the footer, which is text transformed into all uppercase with a list for special styling aligned horizontally.
Overall, I won't say Green Marinee is very difficult to code, the hardest part is probably the background and drop shadows. Ian could have done two things to achieve the sidebar shadow at the sides.
Have the background as a single thin horizontal slice and repeat it vertically using one div container
Append the left and right drop shadow to each side using two div container
Of the two, it looks like Ian used both, he appended the drop shadows to the left and right as well as included a background image for the center. This explains the number of div wrappers around the container. One thing I'm puzzled about is why use an image for the center, why not just set the background color to white?
The advantages of the technique is that he made things a lot easier for me to resize to change the dimension of the template and add a third sidebar. Which also make Green Marinee ideal for a fluid design.
One thing I don't get in Green Marinee's coding is that while the design is excellent, the coding is terrible in terms of SEO. Search engines read the HTML code top down and identify the top content as more important than the lower ones. However, in Green Marinee the main column is place at the very end of the HTML code while the sidebar is above it meaning search engine will see sidebar linking more important than the actual content. Most people read from left to right so the main content comes first so why not code it above first?
In conclusion, Green Marinee is an excellent template, very clean with extra touches that really stands out. Overall 8.5/10. You can find Green Marinee with the extra sidebar shown here soon, sometimes in the next few days at Blogcrowds Blogger Template page.
...and that it people, our first design review or as the label says design magnified.
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