Themeing has always been a tricky thing, not just for ocPortal, but for any software that supports more than backgrounds and prebuilt
'template sets'. Since launching ocPortal, we've kept an eye on how people use our system and how people intend to use our system, and from the themeing point of view, the majority of users just want to change the colour scheme, to suit the styling of their subject matter. Thinking back when I used to administer forums, the same was true for them - most forum 'skins' were simply paint jobs, and the forum administrators were happy with them. But still, a paint job wasn't easy and frankly it isn't particularly easy in ocPortal, even with the colour sliders.
Allen, who is much more experienced in the practical issues of themeing/skinning than I am, came up with the idea to generate themes automatically, using equations. Essentially, the aesthetics people like are just a matter of mathematical pattern: gradients, contrast, and layering, are all representable as such.
We have defined ocPortal 3's default theme in terms of equations like this, and created a special 'theme wizard' that can prepare new pleasing colour schemes based on just inputting a single colour code. This allows people to almost instantly personalise their website - and as far as we know, nobody has come close to making this possible before.
Here's how it looks…
We have also added a 'Logo Wizard' to allow websites to have logos generated for them with incredible ease. I must confess, the logos are very simple, and just based off a customisation of the default logo - but from looking through ocPortal-powered sites we know that the majority just want to get up and running in a customised form as soon as possible, and this is a step closer to making that almost immediate.