Introducing Zen Themes 3.0
I’m Jen Yuan, the owner of Zen Themes and designer currently in New York. I started Zen Themes in my junior year of high school, and it drew me into the world of web design immediately. I knew nothing about web design and had zero coding experience prior to starting Zen Themes. With countless trials and errors, I picked up how to design and code bits by bits. Zen Themes has opened up so many windows of opportunities for me, and I will forever appreciate the users and community that fueled my passion for design.
For the past three years, Zen Themes went through complete redesigns every year. To me, each remake always felt incomplete, I always see things that can be improved upon, and with the site constantly being modified, it became a laggy, incomplete, and terribly optimized. With this redesign, my goal is to build a site that is extremely user-friendly, design with a fresh appeal, and a fully optimized site for super fast loading speed.
Change of Direction
The second reason for the site redesign was that I had delved deeper into the creative world. I started seeing meanings in all types of creations, be it music, movies, or fashion. Works that are interesting always had an underlying theme or ideology that are thought-provoking, allowing us, the viewers, to understand things from the artist’s perspective.
Some things that inspired me, was working along with the Ne.Sense team on the Point One collection, the collection was fueled with underlying sentiment of “being in opposition of all corruptions, not through violences, but through silence battles everyday to be the best version of yourself.”. Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, he explained his troubling with depression, and his encouraging statements on self-betterment. The movie Inception, portraying that reality being just a dream resonates with us so much, because deep down we all imagined it being true at some point; due to our egos fighting against reality.
Web design has the same capacity as any other art forms. Zen Themes is the perfect platform for me to play around with the idea of transforming web design into an art form. Starting from the Level Theme, I built themes with a story or ideology behind them – in other words, building a theme within a theme. By doing so, I opened up myself to a whole other dimension of creative freedom. With that being said, Zen Themes needed a new face to present this idea.
The Process of Remaking
I started the redesign in November of 2015, it was scheduled to launch in February of 2016 to mark the third year anniversary of me in the world of web design. Unfortunately, I was swamped, and I had to delay this release by a month.
The design process was time consuming as I went through a couple variations on the design and was stuck constantly. I really wanted to make something clean, remarkable, and super easy to use. As I moved onto coding the site, it was challenging to organize the system; it was tough to decide on what to put into the CPT (custom post type) as opposed to a stand alone page.
Another challenging part was where to place the advertisements. I always see ads watering down the design of sites, and I had to carefully avoid it. I try to monetize Zen Themes in the most subtle way possible through advertisements, “Install Theme” button removals, and theme customization request from users. Advertisements are in places where they do not disturb the visitors’ browsing experience, and “Install Theme” button removal and theme customizations are built upon mutual benefits with the theme users.
I’ve also added another service of building custom themes from scratch, which if you do contact me, will be taken care by Qual Agency, an agency I created with a group of friends.
Now that the new site finished, I will be going back and revise all my themes. The old themes that are not up-to-date have been removed from the collection. I may put up a page just so that people who are interested can still access and install them. If you’d like to receive updates on new theme releases or major news, you can sign up for the newsletter here.