What will bloggers want from us?

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I read Mark DeLuca's blog post about tweaking a MovableType theme so that his personal blog has a personalized look. What really makes me think is his line, "...it's really easy to tweak things (and quite addictive)." I have a lot of rambling disconnected thoughts about it , so bear with me.

The Public Information people in Old Main created a number of "Templates" to help people get on the web. ETS created a few templates, too; seven years ago. There are templates all over the place, including a wealth of them at the Movable Type site. The folks that wrote our Movable Type Help pages even recommend selecting a style that looks close to what you want and tweaking it. What I notice on the Penn State web is that I've never seen our templates in use. Nor one of the PI ones. They could really just be unacceptable, but the chances are that people have grabbed the code and used bits of it to speed their own work. I believe that's the way they'll continue to work.

So I figure out the div id="???" structure so that my templates can work with different configurations, spend time trying to muster a look that may seem attractive to Penn State users, figure out how to get the things into the MT StyleCatcher Archive, and as work flies by, try to sprinkle on some design dust. Then somebody grabs my theme, and tweaks the heck out of it. Why did they tweak it? What were they actually looking for? Would it be better/easier to just give them that?

There are a ton of themes. Some really great ones. So what would people at Penn State be looking for in a theme? My guess is, any theme will do; they'll change it because they can. What they may need is the official indicia and crystal clear directions on getting them on their pages. Maybe training videos showing the process of adding an official mark to a banner background? Tips on making it a link could be included. Tips on coding links to Penn State Search. They may want some bits and pieces- campus specific photos to use as backgrounds, perhaps. An assortment of marks. I guess I see providing usable pieces and clear instructions as more empowering; while at the same time, I see the creation of Templates almost as an act of vanity. Provide a Penn State "wiget", with everything in place, instead.

One of the most daunting tasks for me to tackle as I approach the design is completely understanding how the DIVs are laid out. Check out this simplified example: as well as this experiment I'm building from it

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