Classic Blue Theme
This is the original Atlas Quest theme—the theme that started them all. I knew immediately when I was first creating Atlas Quest that I wanted a theme that incorporated a map. A road map or topo map—that didn't matter. It just had to have a map. Blue being a popular, easy-to-view color, it would also be a largely blue theme.
As a starting place, I decided to use a CSS template from BlueRobot.com. To this day, if you squint real hard, you can see certain similarities between the BlueRobot.com and Atlas Quest layouts. The header is text, styled using CSS. The header spreads out across the top of the page, and if you delve into the CSS behind both websites, you'll see a lot of the same names being used for classes and ids. The original design of Atlas Quest had a vertical menubar on the left side of the page, but I eventually changed it into a horizontal menubar before the site went live since found myself growing increasingly annoyed with all the empty whitespace under the menubar. The horizontal menubar didn't leave a lot of excess whitespace.
If you look at your mailbox on Atlas Quest, you'll see remnants of that vertical menubar, and the dotted line that separates the menubar from the content.
Obviously, that original template from BlueRobot.com has been twisted and distorted until it's barely even recognizable anymore. Over the years, I've added additional structural elements to the CSS pages. A year or so after Atlas Quest went live, I stumbled onto this article on a List Apart about Suckerfish Dropdowns, and immediately updated the menubar to use this technique for drop down menus. You'll see a lot of similarities between the suckerfish demo (and really, how can you not like an article about suckerfish?!) if you delve into the CSS. Again, I've twisted and updated the example code to fit my own purposes. =)
The map image I ended up using came from decorative paper I found at a stamp store. I scanned it in, then cut out narrow portion that seemed to repeat well without being painfully obvious it was repeating. For years, I didn't even know where the map was of, but curiosity finally got the better of me and I tried figuring out where it was with a couple of Google searches using names on the map. Turns out, it's in southwest Ohio, just outside of Columbus. Even more interesting (or so I thought), when I compared the online maps with the map on the decorative paper, there were obviously errors deliberately entered. For instance, the interstate labeled I-11 on the map on Atlas Quest—there is no I-11. It doesn't exist! On the real maps of the area, however, it's labeled as I-71.
Before other themes existed, this one didn't have a name. Once I started making additional themes, I started giving them names, and since this was the original theme and the default theme that displayed when no other theme was appropriate, I called it 'normal.' Not creative, I know. However, some people mistook this name and thought it meant Atlas Quest would always show the changing themes. In fact, they were setting their preferences to show only this theme. So the theme name was officially changed to classic blue, which sounds nice. Originally, I thought I might create several themes with a variety of colors for people who liked other colors better. Classic purple, classic yellow, etc. To date, that's never happened. I have created purple, yellow, orange, themes with all sorts of colors, but they've always been designed for specific holidays and times of year. The 'classic yellow' became the summer theme. The 'classic purple' theme became the New Year's theme.
So there's the sordid history behind the classic blue theme.