I am the first to admit that I’m almost completely incapable of making something look good. I’m reasonably good at making things functional and easy to use, but when it comes to looks.. not me.
At first I thought I would start with just plain black and white PHP output, but I felt that was going to be a significant problem when trying to attract interest, even early in the project. Also I wouldn’t want to find out two months in that I should have written a Wordpess skin rather than my own PHP.
So then what to do?
I quickly discounted WordPress. I have several Wodpress installations and the maintenance is a nightmare. New versions come out all the time, most of the time there have been security bugs fixed so an upgrade is required, but constantly upgrading a WordPress installation and making sure that the new version still works was too much.
Then I looked around for website templates. There are actually quite a few websites with free templates on. I chose one from http://www.webtemplateocean.com/ – it’s licenced Creative Commons Attribution, that worked for me.
Then the template (one html file, one CSS, and a bunch of images) needed to PHPified. Basically that means to split the body into three parts – top, body, and bottom. The top and bottom are the same for every page, so they can be printed from PHP functions. The body can be different for every page.
I was quite happy with the result. My index.php has basically nothing in it other than the content of the main page, and the same is true for all the other pages.
I will add a link to the website once it’s a little more cleaned up, in a later post.