This is another 10 Best article, but of another kind. Since this month is Pixelita.com’s 10th anniversary, I want to do something special to highlight our path forward. But first, a history lesson.
Back in 2002, I designed my first for-pay web site, for political blogger Sean Hackbarth’s site, The American Mind. It was based on what was at the time the most popular blogging platform, Movable Type, by Six Apart. As word got out, I was approached by many other bloggers to design or redesign their MT blogs. “Skinning” a blog was all the rage back then and nearly every popular blog had a “skin switcher” so a site visitor could switch themes “on the fly.”
This went on for quite some time, in the midst of which my husband became catastrophically ill resulting in paraplegia. I slowed down my web design work significantly to care for him. Then around 2004, when things seemed to smooth out for both of us, I jumped back into the fray. By that time, Six Apart had taken the giant misstep of revamping its licensing for Movable Type. This caused a wave of consternation and panic to sweep over the Blogosphere and everyone flocked to WordPress, which was still in its infancy, having been “forked” by Matt Mullenweg from B2 Cafelog. At that time, the WordPress version was 1.12, Mingus, which was the first release to support plugins. (Boy haven’t we come a long way!?) Back then, you had just a few core files: index.php, header.php, footer.php, sidebar.php, and styles.css. In 2005, Pages materialized and that’s when WordPress really started being a contender IMHO.
So I decided that I had better start learning WordPress. And that’s exactly what I did, way back in May 2004. I entered a few of my custom themes in the late Alex King’s first WP Theme Contest in 2005, where my Zen Minimalist theme won Best of Show. It remains one of the most popular minimalist themes available. And once I became familiar with WordPress and how easy it was to create templates for just about every situation, I haunted the WordPress support forums over the years, at first, to seek help and eventually to give help. This caused a popular tech blogger and fellow habitué of the WP Support Forums to observe in a blog post that I was one of the few WordPress web designers out there spending a significant amount of time on the support forum offering help rather than asking for it.
And all this time, I’d been doing web design under the moniker The Web Jones. But I decided I wanted to freshen my image and create a brand for myself and when I found that the domain PIXELITA.COM was available, I grabbed it. Then, in an interesting twist of fate, one of my long-time web design clients who lives in Denmark approached me about porting a theme I’d created for him to yet another blogging platform. We started out using Movable Type, then switched to pMachine (which eventually became Expression Engine), a lightweight flat file system called Serendipity, and finally, a blog at the Opera blog community (an offshoot of the browser Opera) which is what he wanted customized. At that time, it seemed to be inhabited mostly by Europeans; there were fewer folks from my side of the pond operating Opera blogs.
Not wanting to let my client down, I dived headfirst into the Opera blogging system, setting up my own test blog there so I could kick tires and try to blow stuff up. Almost offhandedly, my client told me, there’s a guy in the Opera Forums who goes by the handle SerbianFighter; he knows a lot about customizing these blogs so if you have any questions, just contact him. Duly noted. I took a peek at SerbianFighter’s Opera profile: He was just a kid; not even 20 years old. But I could see that he had a presence in the community, was influential, well-liked, and went out of his way to help people customize their blogs by sharing very detailed tutorial articles about exactly how to go about doing so.
We started talking and I mentioned wanting to revamp my web site and get back into web design again. So a long-term partnership and friendship evolved from that chance meeting on a now-defunct blogging community web site. (While the Opera Browser lives on, the Opera Community of blogs shut its doors in March 2014.)
Here’s the first official Pixelita Designs header graphic, designed by Ivan Minic(a/k/a SerbianFighter).
And here are some screen shots of how the design evolved over time, always keeping a blue color palette.
And here we are today. Never once wavered from the WordPress platform, Pixelita will always use WP as its base; it is today using a child theme of the Genesis platform, based on WordPress with rock-solid design and coding.
To help us celebrate our Tenth Anniversary, we are offering, through July 13, 2016 (my birthday, incidentally!), 10% off any of our design services. Just mention this article when you ask us about your project.
Joni Mueller has been designing web sites for hire since 2003, when she first blew up her web host’s server by insisting on running Greymatter. Since then, Joni has designed for Blogger and Movable Type, TextPattern, WordPress and CMS Made Simple. She lives with her cat and shoe collection in a bucolic old section of Houston called Idylwood. For some strange reason, Joni likes to refer to herself in the third person. When she’s not working on web design, she’s ordering lawyers around. And blogging about it. Or both.