I’m a man with many pursuits but I’m a designer by trade, more specifically, a web designer. I was around during the dot com boom and have been building custom sites since the 90’s. At some point WordPress took over and web budgets came down as ‘off the shelf’ products just made building web sites so much easier.
When we launched Zen in 2011 I used WordPress to build our site as we had no time before launch to build something custom, we had to hit the ground running so a WordPress site was put into place, we bought a theme that did all the things we needed it to do and voila, we were running. Thing is I hated the site and have hated it ever since! At some stage tuned. also installed the same theme as us, this gave me the motivation I needed to tweak our theme to make it “our own”, but even then I still wasn’t happy with it.
I’ve always been meaning to re-design the site to have much bigger impact images and a much cleaner design and tighter layout, 4 years in I’ve finally made the move to re-design the site by starting with a new theme. I had my developer James Linney install the theme for us and I didn’t sleep much for a week playing with it until it all started to look and feel right, then Sydney based Photographer Sam Law (a BOTFC and Zen blog contributor) messaged me to say that we’re using the same theme as BOTC…
I’m excellent at putting myself in other people’s shoes. When you’ve experienced as much stuff as I have (I’m 40 and I’ve been at it for some time now!) you tend to get good at taking a step back and seeing things from a bigger perspective. I knew, instantly, that the BOTFC guys would be upset that Zen, a brand bigger than theirs, could be stealing their web site design. I note that BOTFC is a grass roots thing, much like all the stuff I run, it’s run on passion and mostly “just for the fun of it”. That obviously makes BOTFC precious to whoever owns and runs it. I knew I was going to cop heat, but I sincerely never saw that BOTFC were using the same WordPress theme, which mind you is publicly available for purchase by anyone out there.
I made the call to go ahead and continue with the theme knowing that the BOTFC guys would be upset, and also that at any time anyone else can purchase the same theme and have their site look and work just like ours. I have all intentions to lean on my design experience though and with James’ help I’m positive we can really heavily tweak this theme to make it our own over the next few months.
One can choose to fight in public, or one can take it to private messaging where you have a much better chance at reaching resolutions. I ended up having a chat with BOTFC founder Nicholas Cole over Facebook Messenger, and once we got through the site design issues I think we both realised that there was no point in fighting, especially since we’re both just doing the same thing, and that’s creating content, for the fun of it, in an aim to inspire others.
Be in competition with yourself, and not others.
Nicholas went a step further and asked if I’d like to contribute a piece for BOTFC. That’s a champ move which I couldn’t refuse! A sincere thanks to Nicholas and the team here at BOTFC for taking the higher road. Much respect! I’m looking forward to sharing more BOTFC content on my network, who knows, maybe a BOTFC x ZEN collab of some sort will eventuate at some point too!