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Sandbox Theme for WordPress Design Competition

This is a guest post from engtech of Internet Duct Tape.

The Sandbox WordPress Design Competition has come to a close after two months. It was a resounding success. Live previews of the 46 new Sandbox designs will be available on August 5th, 2007. Over 31 people who participated in the competition. Some designers were introduced to Sandbox for the first time, while I recognized other familiar faces from forum regulars That Girl and Sunburntkamel. I participated in the contest and submitted my two first attempts at designing themes for WordPress.

But Why Sandbox?

Sandbox is different from other WordPress themes. It is a strong, barebones foundation that lets you design the look without worrying about the layout. Sandbox handles displaying and organizing your blog content in a logical manner while a CSS stylesheet hooks into the powerful selectors Sandbox offers and handles all of the exterior decorations. Lorelle on WordPress uses Sandbox with a custom stylesheet, as does my blog, Internet Duct Tape.

Sandbox is ideal for multi-user environments like as it lets users customize their theme without potentially introducing security vulnerabilities through Javascript or embedded objects from other sites. Note: uploading custom stylesheets is a $15 upgrade at,

The Sandbox Community

The most successful part of the Sandbox Design Competition is the community that is emerging around it. There are many talented theme designers who are coming together to learn from each other and put out great designs that are interchangeable with a click of the mouse because they all use Sandbox underneath. The official Sandbox blog has been bumping with information about the contest, but the real gem is the Sandbox forums. Registration is required to post, but it’s the best resource on the net you’ll find for learning about the Sandbox theme. Some highlights:

Meeting the Other Designers

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the competition is poking around the websites of the other participants and see what they’ve done with Sandbox. I always find it amazing that so many different looks can be accomplished with the same underlying theme. These are some of my favorite Sandbox designs from the contest participants that inspire me to learn more about CSS design. Listed in no order of preference, and as far as I know these designs were not used as part of the competition.

I’m excited to see what will come out of the Sandbox community in the future. The contest was a resounding success. I’m glad they went with the contest idea instead of my suggestion to do a viral Youtube video called “Sand in a Box.”

It’s for the best, because I do a horrible Justin Timberlake impression.

engtech signature picengtech blogs regularly at Internet Duct Tape. He’s authored such useful hacks as Akismet Auntie Spam, Technorati Favorite Your Fans and the WordPress MU Tag Cloud Generator.His latest post was 5 Tips to Building Your Readership – Community Starts with CommunicationSubscribe to Internet Duct Tape by RSS or by email.

Copyright engtech and originally posted to Lorelle on WordPress.


  1. Posted August 2, 2007 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Engtech. You’ve been a Sandbox user almost since day 1, so it’s great that (a) you participated and (b) you wrote this post. 😉

    Your list of resources on the forum are really quite helpful. For first-time theme developers, this is definitely the way to go.

  2. Posted August 2, 2007 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    I totally agree with you, Engtech. Participating in this contest was one of the most fun design projects I’ve ever taken on. The forums are great, the participants are great, the designs are great and the contest has been run, well, great (Cheers, Scott).

    Great idea listing links to the best resources on the forum — and thanks for the link back to Upper Fort Stewart — I appreciate the attention.

  3. Posted August 3, 2007 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    Seconded. This is my first time writing enough CSS to humiliate IE6 and hone my skills. I ought to design more.

    These are some of my favorite Sandbox designs from the contest participants that inspire me to learn more about CSS design.

    I’m so honored that BoltPress made its way into that list. Thanks engtech! And I agree with Scott and Ian on your resources.

    We’ll definitely cultivate an evergrowing design community with Sandbox. Cheers.

  4. Posted August 3, 2007 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I so love the Sandbox Theme for its versatility and I’ve been very anxious to see the results of this great competition. Thanks for sharing the news and great tips, Engtech!

  5. Posted August 3, 2007 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I am currently using a quite modified version of someone else’s modification of a WP theme if you follow 🙂

    Sandbox definitely seems like the top candidate when I decide to redesign. Especially since I have more blogs in the works and have no intention of wasting time or resources getting to know more themes inside out.

    I love your signature btw. That is a keeper for sure 🙂

  6. Posted September 2, 2007 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I’ve gotta take a look – i’m totally frustrated trying to find a sharp WP theme* It’s nice to see some Design going into the Themes cuz WordPress when i first looked at it over a year + half ago was so boring White + ugly Fonts i couldn’t believe it was so popular!!


  7. Posted September 2, 2007 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Are you talking about the Sandbox Theme or all WordPress Themes? The Sandbox Theme was designed from the beginning to allow the user to customize ALL the parts and pieces.

    Since WordPress Themes were developed about four years ago (has it been that long?), some have been better than others, and sure, there have been some ugly ones, but ugly is in the eye of the beholder. Some like ugly. And then some take beautiful minimalist Themes and then clutter them up like garbage. The joy of WordPress Themes is that the free ones are usually open for you to fix and adjust, changing fonts and other elements, as you wish.

    Though, check with the licensing before remodeling. 😀

    I’m sure you also understand that the power of WordPress is in the core programming, and the Themes are optional. You choose which one to use, and WordPress works with it. Deciding not to use WordPress because you didn’t like the Theme options doesn’t mean WordPress is bad. I hear this all the time, so I just wanted to clarify that for everyone.

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