SKY LIMIT Studio Customized This Blog

For those who have been reading since blog since it started a whole month ago, I am happy to report (as you can see) that my custom theme is now complete. This post builds on my previous posts about the process that I’ve done through to get up and running. In this post, I’ll talk about the selection of SKY LIMIT, and how it was working with them.

So with the design of my site complete, I went online to find a developer that might be able to do the WordPress customization and apply my theme. I explored two avenues; the first was reaching out to online providers that turn digital files into themes such as or The second approach was to take the project specs and put them on Craigslist for anyone that wanted to bid on the project.

The online providers were obliviously set up to do the project as fast as possible, and with as little interaction as possible. There were fairly clear specification requirements on their site but all communication was done through a tracker system. In other words, it took a while to establish exactly what I was getting and whether or not specific idiosyncratic customizations would be included in the base cost. Furthermore, their canned service responses that we doled out through the tracker gave me the impression that they were not focused on customer service. In terms of cost, it seemed like you’d be starting at around $500, plus additional fees depending on customization.

The Craigslist post on the other hand generated over forty personal responses before I took down the post. Perhaps this is a comment on the state of the economy, but I was really impressed with the quality of folks interested in bidding the project. I should note that it did probably take extra time to review each proposal, and that I was not on a deadline.  Honestly though, it didn’t take that much longer … and I got to exchange  e-mails with folks as far away as India who wanted the work. Bids ranged from $750 to $150. After averaging the estimates out, I found that the mean was around $300, so I used that as my target price.

It was pretty clear at this point that I wanted someone that I could talk to, and who could advise me a bit, so I decided that I’d go with one of the independents who was domestic and preferably in the same time zone. As a consultant myself, I also preferred to work with a consultant or small business. I interviewed three of the best candidates to discuss their past projects and make sure they were comfortable with the pricing I was offering. I was willing to pay less than the online providers would cost, but I was willing to be flexible schedule wise,and I promised to write something up (this) if the project went well … which it did.

Ultimately, I settled on SKY LIMIT which is based in Seattle, WA. Note, that they’re previous incarnation is TYZ Design, so that’s the place to go to see their portfolio. I worked most directly with Christopher Wood, who is their Director of Marketing to get the project off the ground. We negotiated that I’d pay 50% up front, then 50% upon completion. Working was Christopher was great, he responded to my e-mails promptly and connected me with the developer who was doing the work at the appropriate times. I’d recommend working with Christopher and SKY LIMIT for anyone trying to get a customized blog up in short order.

The project did take a little longer than expected due to some cross-browser issues that wouldn’t go away, plus a couple of tricky details that were important to me, but this didn’t bother me too much because I was flexible time wise. Plus, they were transparent and communicative along the way. Having worked with many service providers, and as a service provider, I can tell you that it’s always better to just explain what’s causing a delay. People can deal with delays if they can empathize with what’s going on behind the scenes, and work on contingencies (so long as you’re working hard to fix it). What I cannot stand, and what will destroy our relationship, is delays without transparency. Don’t do it!

So, thank you to Christopher and his team at SKY LIMIT. I look forward to working with them again if one of my consulting clients has an appropriate projects.

Getting some quotes

Today I got in touch with a bunch of companies online that offer services to take visual design files and turn them into WordPress themes. Since I have my visual design complete, this is the next step. My blog is going to be really simple so almost everything can be cobbled together from existing themes, widgets, and open-source code. Once again, I’m reminded that just because this is over my head does not mean it’s rocket science. I also posted the project description on Craigslist and got some good leads as well. I’d prefer to work with a freelancer, so I think that’s the direction I’m going to go in. More soon!

Building my theme

Today I started working on the design of this so called blog. I spent most of the day looking at other blogs, seeing what works, what fails, what fits with what I’m trying to do, and looking for unique opportunities. And, I’m trying to keep in mind that it’s just a blog … and not to over think it. That said, I visited the blogs of some pretty fancy dancy “experience” designers today and I was pretty disapointed to find some pretty poor experiences out there. It seems these folks create great experiences for companies, but not for their own stuff. Who’da thunk it? Strange …. but I have to say, not too surprising. Human nature has something to do with this I think.

In any case, here the first sketch of my new site!

Early Theme Sketch

Early Theme Sketch

Okay, that’s it for now.