Webvanta Blog: Creating Effective Websites

SmartThemes:
A New World of Webvanta Capabilities

SmartThemes:<br />A New World of Webvanta Capabilities Image

Tonight we deployed what is perhaps the most significant change yet in the Webvanta platform: SmartThemes.

When first designing Webvanta, we avoided getting into creating multiple themes because Webvanta is designed for people building custom sites. We provided a basic starter site to give people an idea of what could be done, but there were no choices — everyone got the same starter site.

What We Learned

In time, a few needs became apparent:

  • Some designers want to start with an empty site, so they can install their code without having to delete all of our starter site code.
  • Some designers want a starter site that gives them a CSS framework, jQuery, and drop-down menus all set up, but does not provide any styling.
  • As the number of pre-built features we offer has increased, it has become impractical to put them all into a single starter site. So we need a way to deliver different pre-built features for different users.
  • Designers often have their own set of files they use whenever they start a site, and it would be a big convenience if we could set those all up for them.

These were the driving reasons for our new SmartThemes feature. The first phase of this work has rolled out tonight; in the coming weeks, we’ll be adding many more capabilities.

SmartTheme Evolution

For the moment, SmartThemes are all provided by Webvanta. You can see a list of them here.

Soon we will allow you to save any site as a SmartTheme and store it locally. You’ll then be able to upload a SmartTheme when creating a new site.

If you are a Webvanta Design Partner, you’ll be able to store private SmartThemes as part of your master site, so you can instantly build new sites with whatever starter code you want.

In time, we will provide many more SmartThemes. In addition to ones we will create, we will provide a marketplace where designers can offer SmartThemes they have built for others to use.

Initially, SmartThemes are focused on providing great frameworks for building upon. We continue to remain focused on meeting the needs of professional designers, rather than (like so many site-building solutions) do-it-yourself site owners.

Most designers using Webvanta aren’t looking for stock visual designs. Some are, however, to provide a quick start for low-budget projects. So we will offer the ability to have multiple visual styles for a given SmartTheme, and we’ll provide a variety of complete designs for people to start with.

What’s So Smart?

Why SmartThemes, and not simply Themes?

We call them SmartThemes because we want to draw a distinction between simple visual design themes, and our unique themes that convey data structures and other elements as well. A SmartTheme can specify custom database structures. It can even include data that is installed as part of the theme. And lots of other cool stuff we aren’t quite ready to talk about.

We’ll also be using the SmartThemes technology to work with vertical market partners, who want to provide site-building solutions for their customers. We can provide a turn-key, private-labeled site-creation system with a custom set of SmartThemes.

If you have an existing Webvanta site, you won’t notice anything new. SmartThemes only come into play when you are building a new site. Feel free to create a new trial site and give it a try.

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