Sweeter Home’s deep toolset means that you can build almost anything you can imagine as your home launcher. With that in mind, sometimes the hardest part of getting started with a theme is coming up with a good design concept.
Here’s how I generally go from beginning to end with a Sweeter Home theme:
I look EVERYWHERE for design inspiration. I subscribe to a ton of art and design blogs in Google Reader, including Photoshop tutorial sites and photography blogs. I also read this homescreen topic at XDA fairly religiously. I also throw useful links, tutorials and assets here on this site. Lastly, I keep a Google Bookmarks list of Sweeter Home Reference, which is where I dump anything I find on the net that might influence me later when it comes to building a theme. Look for anything that you can translate to a phone UI. Anything at all, no matter how abstract or “out there”.
Get building. For design I use Photoshop. If you can get it, use it; there’s a reason it’s the industry standard in image manipulation. If you’re new to PS then find some tutorials on using Layer Styles. You’ll soon be doing EVERYTHING with Layer Styles, trust me. Be sure to read my tutorial on using Dropbox to quickly refine your images. Take the time to get things right.
Of course you’ll need to get good at building in Sweeter Home too. That can take some time, but once you climb that steep learning curve you’ll reach a place where you can move what’s in you’re head to the phone quickly and effectively. Sweeter Home has a ton of little tricks you can use to make building easier, and make UI behave in ways most people don’t think of. The more time you spend with Sweeter Home the easier this will get.
When designing and building your theme remember that it has to be usable. If you’re designing for a wider audience then keep that audience in mind at all times. Every button you include has to work, and work as expected. Not everyone has the same widgets that you have installed: should you include them? Are the quirks of your specific theme easy for a new user to understand?
For the most part I always run a theme in a close-to-finished state for at least 2-3 days if not longer. I need to know that all the features work as I intend them to, and I haven’t misplaced a block which messes something up in a situation I wasn’t expecting. Test your own themes and make them perfect before you upload them for the whole to see.
It’s my hope that one of the reasons my themes get downloaded so much is that they just work right out of the box.
What about you?
How do you go about building your Sweeter Home themes? What do you wish you could do better? Who do you build for? What do you love about some other people’s themes?
Let me know in the comments! Let’s all learn from one another.