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Template designers - some help please!

So I need a bit of help putting a better design face on all my personal web properties / projects. It's time. Blogger is nice and simple (remember people, content is king) - but I need to be a bit open minded, especially with some of the new trial projects. I've been playing with a lot of that platforms recently: from Tumblr to Posterous to WordPress... It's a funny realisation - of course it's easy to throw up a site, but it's very hard to do ANYTHING that the template doesn't allow without diving into CSS. Monetisation is also often harder than you would expect.

So here's what I need help with:

Web properties:

Social Properties:
  • www.twitter.com/andyhadfield (yeah yeah yeah, I guess Twitter might just go somewhere)
  • Other social properties don't really need design, just good, un-bloody duplicated content! I'm on it.
Here are my thoughts about what needs to be done:
  • Every one of the above need a bit of a tweak.
  • It obviously can't be too expensive... they are mostly trial and error type projects. Everyone says that, I know.
  • Simplicity is key. Anything to do with content these days can get too wrapped up in design and miss its original purpose -- content.
  • It needs to leverage free web platforms (blogger, wordpress, tumblr, posterous, google sites etc). I don't want any hosting or management headaches. The beauty of the web is that stuff is free. We're idiots not to leverage it. 
  • If at all possible, move everything onto the same platform for ease of management.
  • Most templates need to be a social as possible, providing lots of share links out and able to aggregate some social content back in.
  • So essentially, I'm seeing small tweaks to basic templates with well designed headers, footers and sidebars. Just enough for the site to feel like itself, but not too much to drive sky-high design fees or over-designed properties.
  • SEO framework critical. As with all content projects.
  • It needs to be easily monetised. That means I'm not scared of Adwords and they must be cleverly placed in all possible relevant locations, without detracting from the content.
  • Mobile compatibility would be nice considering the explosion of mobile in Africa.
  • Each site would have very slightly differing home page needs and personality. That can be briefed quite easily.
What is it going to take to get this done? Who are the efficient, clever template designers out there in Joburg or Cape Town? Ping me in the comments, on Twitter or email me!

Let's do this...

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