Lately I’ve been having a hard time finding an excellent WordPress theme designer. I see some fantastic designs but no-one with any real understanding of design in relation to data architecture (or how to structure the content of a site). I know exactly what I’m looking for (and could probably teach these various aspects myself) but I simply don’t understand why is it so difficult to find excellent WordPress theme designers? Has the buzz of the CSS Zen Garden worn off?

And I *do* love working with excellent people. People who are passionate about what they do. People with drive and determination. People like our WordPress Plugin Developer, John, who’s probably one of the most motivated and determined people I’ve never met. You need only look at the quality of his plugins to understand the bar I’m trying to set in terms of excellence.

But after several weeks of putting my feelers out and getting in touch with some truly excellent old design colleagues and acquaintances, I have to admit I’m feeling a bit defeated. I’m beat. Done… for the moment.

So I’m putting this advert out. There’s good money in it (as quality costs) and potentially some future work as well. If you think you fit the bill or know anyone who you think might be perfect, then please do contact me at exceptionaldesigner[at] (if I need to tell you replace the [at], then don’t email me :P ).So here’s my shameless advertisment for a freelancer to help with some design work I have available:

“Hardcore CSS WordPress Theme Designer Required”

No slackers, time-wasters or rip-off artists please. If you do not understand the concepts listed, then please do not apply. Either try to blag the job (and be found out) or do some proper research and learn before submitting your application.

The candidate applying for the freelance design work must:

  • have a solid understanding of CSS and structuring the content of a website (a la CSS Zen Garden).
  • have an excellent eye for detail (pixel precision is near enough).
  • understand grid spacing and layouts.
  • understand colour theory and HEX values.
  • understand the impact of content on CSS-disabled browsers (or screen readers).
  • understand the importance of tableless designs (divs with classes and ids only).
  • be able to select appropriate photographic images to suit the design requirements.
  • be able to optimise images and compress them without losing quality.
  • realise the importance of symbolism and visual metaphors and the relationship these have in design.
  • be able to create iconography suited to the design requirements.
  • appreciate the use of fonts in relation to site design.
  • be able to demonstrate flexibility in their design styles (from corporate to casual to simply bizarre).
  • be creative, imaginative and able to make suitable suggestions to meet the design requirements.
  • be passionate about design.
  • be able to provide minimal CSS hacks to achieve cross-browser compatibility.
  • always strive to achieve a high level of quality in their work. Mediocre is for normal people.
  • be able to supply design guidelines to Developers if necessary.
  • be a fast worker and understand their design tools enough to use macros and other shortcuts.
  • be honest and fair (especially when negotiating fees for services)
  • want to help people – whether this be charitable donations or simply helping people out by creating nice free themes for others.
  • be constantly learning new skills and teaching their new skills.
  • be very familiar with working on developing WordPress themes (required: PHP, XHTML & CSS only – NO Javascript rollover effects etc.).
  • be an excellent virtual team player.
  • have good timekeeping skills and be able to deliver to deadlines.
  • have excellent communication skills.
  • understand accessibility issues.
  • be able to hand code (i.e. can code without relying on WYSIWYG editors like DreamWeaver).
  • have a good understanding of Flash and be able to implement deConcept’s SWFObjects if necessary.

I mean, seriously… is this a tall order? Too much to ask? :P

So, what would the lucky Designer get to do? Well, firstly this website needs a revamp – let’s face it, the design is pretty awful. It could be tighter and much funkier. The only thing I really like is the logo (which took about 2 months from conceptualisation to realisation between me and my brother – he’s the designer in the family, I just come up with ideas…). The rest of the site could do with deconstruction and reconstruction. Who know’s, if the theme is any good, then it should be good enough to enter the Sandbox Designs WordPress theme competition

After that, well… there’s a couple of sites I know of that could do with re-themeing (is there such a word? Or did I just make one up? Re-skinning, perhaps?)

I’ve known some exceptionally talented Designers in my time – it’s a pity they all worked in a corporate environment that stifled their creativity… Still, there must be someone out there that fits these requirements?

The type of person I’m looking would appreciate the default WordPress Kubrick theme (I’m serious!).

If you stripped away the CSS and have a look at the way in which the data is laid out, in terms of site content structure any half decent student of SEO, concerned with their content and keyword densities, would immediately recognise the importance of the content being at the top and the menu links at the bottom of the page. All that would need doing is change the styles like they’ve done for the Retro Theatre, Zen Army, The Original designs (over at CSS Zen Garden) and just leaving the default Kubrick theme content structure alone.

(BTW, if you’re using FireFox with the Developer Tools add-on (extension), then if you hit CTRL+Shift+S then this will remove all styles from the page you’re viewing. Neat, huh?).

Not all sites are created equal. There are some really nice, beautifully designed, themes for WordPress out there. However, while presentation is a key factor to keeping users on the site, so is content – or more importantly, high quality content that is structured in such a way to be useful for site readers but simultaneously well structured enough to gain good positioning in the search engines. It’s a tough balancing act. Not all websites Designer understand this.

Thankfully, I’ve had several years in the Internet industry hanging out with some of the best Designers and Developers to understand this fine balancing act. Added to the extra 8 months I’ve been spending getting up to speed in Internet Marketing, I figure, if I had time, I could probably teach this stuff now. It’s not difficult to pick up but it is tricky to master.

Okay, so this is a long-shot. I’m determined to find someone of extremely high calibre to work with. Put it this way – I’m not a website Designer but I know about good design. If I can identify the qualities that make up a good website Designer, then a really exceptional and talented one is going to teach me a thing or two. That’s what I’d expect, anyway.

Consider the list above… a challenge. I set the bar pretty high. And I’m only okay when it comes to design. And if you’re a Designer and haven’t realised half of the things I’ve listed are essential, then you seriously need to do some catching up. :P

So there we go. Any takers?

Or is no-one up to the job? ;)

Email me: exceptionaldesigner[at]