I spent a good deal of time this weekend fiddling around with the Sandbox theme from plaintxt.org. Plaintxt.org is the brainchild of Scott Wallick, and he describes it as “[m]inimalism in blogging: an experiment out of control”. In the two and a half years since I installed WordPress, I’ve used at least three of Scott’s plaintxt.org themes: Barthelme, plaintxtBlog and now Sandbox.
Where Barthelme and plaintxtBlog are both fully developed from a visual standpoint, Sandbox is more like a blank slate upon which a design can be built; think of it as an unfrosted cake ready for anything your imagination (and your skill with a tube of colored frosting) can throw at it.
If you’re familiar with the old look of the site, it might appear that all I’ve done is shift the left sidebar over to the right, and there’s good reason for that: my goal was to, in essence, recreate the basic look of Brian Gardner’s Blue Zinfandel theme, but with two right-hand sidebars instead of one on either side of the main column. Ultimately, the changes to the design will be significant enough to fully distinguish it from Brian’sI’ll start by designing my own post-separator graphic., but I thought it would be interesting to see if I could mimic at least part of his crisp, clean look using Sandbox as a base.
I’m pretty pleased with the outcome so far. There are areas that still need work (the far right sidebar has a tendency to drop out of place when viewing a single post with Internet Explorer, for example), but the basic look is coming together nicely. I’ve had one person tell me they’re not a fan of the dual sidebars on the right-hand side, but I don’t think that’s going away anytime soon.
As always, I encourage anyone with an opinion on the design to share it with me in the comments. I know that the archives and library pages are a mess right now, and I’ll post an update when I’ve fixed them, but if you see anything else that seems out of place, needs improvement, or is just plain ugly, let me know.