Has anyone worked with a designer that they've been happy with? We're definitely trying to escape from the "Moodle look" and want something clean, clear, colorful, and that can mesh with our school website. No offense, but those Moodle default colors...
Hey, if the Drupal people can get their web design act together, surely the Moodlers can too!
Thanks in advance,
Thanks for the reply,
This is, of course, awkward self-promotion, but since you asked ...
My goal has always been to change the face of Moodle. See my profile for a link to my business site. Feel free to contact me for a selection of screenshots of my custom work.
I'm a bit surprised that there are so few that do this. If you do a search, for instance, for Wordpress themes, or Joomla, or even Drupal themes, you will find many many more. Given the sheer numbers of Moodle downloads (over 100,000 per month) and registered sites (around 60,000), I expected to see more designers. Guess it's an opportunity waiting to happen!
Perhaps most of the people who administer Moodle sites are harried teachers who barely have enough time to run the site?
At any rate, thanks to those who replied both on and off line.
I always hope more will join, and if you are thinking of playing in this field, please make use of this forum to ask questions so we can help get you up to speed.
ANyone else want one? :D
Maybe one reason why there are few theme developers for Moodle as compared with Wordpress, Joomla & Drupal is that the vast majority of Moodle users are more concerned with the contents of their moodle site than its looks. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is another matter. See for instance the reference in Urs's recent post Data, Not Design, Is King in the Age of Google.
The point of my analogy is simply that other systems - specifically those with larger numbers of theme developers - are more flexible for theme development, and therefore more interesting to design for. Some designers may choose not to work with Moodle simply because they can only change the curtains.
I agree that content is king, and I'm a firm opponent of empty window dressing and flashy presentation that doesn't really support the content or, worse, is a substitute for actual content. However, I believe that the presentation of content is important, and particularly with software that is going to be used a lot by "young people" (however you define that). They are visual learners and also, having been exposed to visual media their whole lives, are very savvy about how things look.
Some of the basic Moodle design elements are, for lack of a better term, old: the orange-brownish colors, the default icon set, the square boxes. It's just visually unappealing. I don't mean this as a criticism of anyone, but it looks pretty 1996, if you know what I mean.
I'm a big Drupal fan, and so I see some parallels. Drupal is a fantastic piece of software, but its development has been driven by developers, many of whom classify design as "just pretty pictures". It's only been recently that the Drupal community has realized that if they want wider adoption of Drupal, they need to make it more visually appealing.
Moodle is a fantastic piece of software. But the design has lagged. I don't say this as a blanket criticism, and I know the next question I'll get is -- so why don't you do something about it, Bob? Believe me, if I were a great web designer, I would be very happy to do what I could. Unfortunately, I can recognize good design but am not as good as creating it (I taught information design for 15 years).
I just put this out there as a means to spur some discussion. I am very happy to do whatever I can, because I think Moodle is a great product for what it does.
Moodle2 is going through a major theming rewrite that really will let developers bend moodle to their will (although I am promised backwards compatibility)
Designers of "the future" will be able to change to a degree how moodle works by overriding classes from within the theme. Essentially allowing for data to be displayed in ways that suited them. Gone will be any idea of a "standard" layout.
The truth be told though the ideas are very much still in development. I would recommend anyone with interest in this field to follow and contribute to the discussion going on here: http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=108993
I'm still trying to figure exactly what the "theming rewrite" will include, since I gathered from that discussion that everyone doesn't agree that theming is the way to go, or that if it is, that it can be done any time soon. I'm sure as Moodle progresses, these things will be worked out by the user community, especially those developers and designers who really do the grunt work that we all benefit from.
IMO the changes to the future Moodle theming system mostly pertain to the way HOW Moodle produces HTML code for presentation.
An equal (if not more) important question is WHAT kind of code Moodle produces (at least with regard to the ease of theming).
I have been reading "Designing with Web Standards", 2nd ed. by Jeffrey Zeldman recently (http://www.zeldman.com/dwws/), and have started a little pet project in the backyard of my user page .
I think the technical part of the theming system is in good hands (mostly Tim Hunt's), but the HTML side could profit from input of the theming/designer community.
By giving designers the opportunity to effect the HTML of the entire page (not just the header and footer), I'm betting that we see a whole world of possibilities down the road.
Bob, on lab.unodo-design.com you may have a look at Moodle pages that will be possible with Moodle 2.0 when all goes well.
Not directly - the theme designer and developer will need to implement templates. But that should be possible without hacking Moodle.
On the start page the login data is described and you may read some information about the site.
Enjoy - and your feedback is welcome.
I also agree that although the content is key, in school districts we are dealing with students where some students could probably theme better looking themes than I can, ha! And for the most part they know what looks "cool" and what looks old and outdated (in my opinion...that's how I feel myself).
I'm excited to see what moodle 2.0 brings and I'm trying to learn more about moodle code and web development in general so can make our moodle site somewhere students like to go and want to go (like facebook, gmail or social networking) instead of somewhere the HAVE to go.
I was actually just looking for wordpres themes today and there were tons! I hope more people get into the moodle theming!
I really agree with Patrick on this (well put, nice analogy!). A key point depends on what you think a theme could or should be capable of affecting.
The way I see Moodle is there are 3 critical parts
Usability / user experience (most critically navigation)
Appearance (although emotional engagement is part of this, and I feel an important part as you want to engage users with high quality visual design, appearance also overlaps with usability as things like layout, visual weighting, typography etc have a big impact).
I have found using themes frustrating because they feel hard to use / restrictive. Changing colours is nice (but pretty low on my list of priorities as it has less signifcant impact on user experience than othere aspects of Moodle). I would rather have more control of
a) the layout
b) the modules themselves
For example with the course menu so far I have been unable to make the order of the courses non-alphabetical for users (although logging in as admin the order is the same as set through the admin area!). So I cannot solve this through themes.
Hopefully Tim's work will result in a more coherent and usable navigation mechanism.
So for me while I place navigation as a higher priority than themes I still think that themes can mean more than just changing colours.