Five things about design and blogs

design things

Brian Gardner asked me five questions related to design and blogs. Here’s the short Q and A session.

What is something that would surprise people about you and design?

Most of what I know about design is self-taught, and since leaving college and uni I’ve learned perhaps a hundred times more than I did when in formal education. I don’t regret my student years, but I’m sure that if I started my businesss sooner I’d be further ahead at this point.

I first found out about blogs less than a year ago, and I’m sure I’ll be involved with them for a long time. It’s amazing what you can pick up relatively quickly.

If you could design one blogger’s site for free, who would it be?

I’m still wet behind the ears where blog design is concerned. My own theme is the only one I’ve built from scratch, so I need practice. When it comes down to it, I’d like to re-design for someone with similar design tastes, although that would mean they already have a clean, minimal blog design. Perhaps it’d make more sense to take a cluttered design and turn it minimal? I don’t know.

What blog platform do you prefer, and why?

WordPress (hosted and self-hosted) is the only one I’ve used, so I’m not too qualified to answer. However, I feel no need to switch to another platform, and the majority of blog authors seem to back me up. If you think differently, I’d love to know what platform you use.

Aside from your own, what is your favourite blog theme?

I reckon Brian asked me this because he knew I’d pick his Vertigo theme (broken link removed, 2014). I used the three column version for four or five months, modifying it along the way. Vertigo served me well — testament to Brian’s skills. Regarding my own layout, I’ll be writing more about it and the process I went through to get here in an upcoming post.

Do you have a blog reading guilty pleasure?

I’ve not had as much time as I’d like for reading other blogs, which is a , I know. I make a point of accessing Google Reader almost every day to see what others are writing about. In my feed reader are people like: Andy with his , Daniel who provides some top , accomplished graphic designer Mark (broken link removed, 2014), Kevin, and about 25 or 30 others.

I like to read blogs where I’m going to learn something, which is why I often take a step back and look at my own posts. Am I teaching or preaching? I’ve nothing against preaching, and I’ve come to consider a good friend.

If anyone else wants to pick up this meme, go ahead. was the first.

Brian, thanks for asking.

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16 comments

  1. I’m a WordPress user as well. The theming and modding community behind it is just incredible. That was what really sold me on it, and not another platform. :)

  2. Nice read; it’s always pleasant to get away from the opinions and the tips and advice, and just do some background story like this.

    Hey, if not reading enough is a blogging mistake, what do you call reading too much so you barely write anymore, like me at the moment? I think you’re doing good here.

    If you ever wanna redesign NDNL, that would be awesome. I’d have to get some hosting though so maybe not: I’m kinda lazy with those things, only second to writing posts ;-) Cheers!

  3. Michael, you’re doing a great job coding WordPress, and I agree, the community behind it is pretty incredible. In my case, I was fortunate to land with it first time.

    Nils, I often wonder how readers respond to different kinds of posts. Glad you enjoyed the read. I can empathise with reading too much. I’ve done that, leaving little time for my blog. It’d be a pleasure working with you if a self-hosted blog is the direction you’re taking. Just give me a shout, and thanks for dropping in.

  4. David, you mention that most of your graphic design is self-taught. I’d definitely be interested in reading more about specifics of how you taught yourself and even more about the experiences you’ve had during that ongoing process. Also, since you say mostly self-taught, have you taken zero graphic design classes or just a few compared to others?

    I think there’s a big difference between someone who’s a graphic design major (not always good graphic designers, unfortunately), someone who’s taken a few classes and then practiced a lot, and someone who’s never taken any classes and just started messing around. I, for one, feel like a hack because I’ve never taken any classes (it shows) but it’s fallen on me from a lot of angles because of my background in other kinds of design and illustration.

  5. Hi Danny, at 15 I enrolled on an art and design course, spending two years at college for a GNVQ qualification, then another two getting an HND (equivalent of half a degree). It was kind of an all round course, although I definitely had more of an interest in the design side.

    Looking back to when I left at 19, I really didn’t have much of a speciality. It was more a case of knowing a little about a lot (in hindsight knowing a little about a little). I then went on to study at university for three years on a graphic communications management course. Just one of the 30 or so classes I took was for graphic design. Other classes included marketing, human resources, pre-press, press, post-press. Still all useful. After those three years I ended up taking a post-grad course in management, which has helped, although not so much on the graphic design front.

    Had I not spent months engrossed in online forums, asking questions, showing examples of my work and learning from critiques, I’d not be anywhere near where I am now. You have to surround yourself with people who know more than you, and at the time, the only way I could was through websites such as the HOW design forum.

    So you could say that I fit into your second bracket, someone who’s taken a few classes and then practiced a lot.

  6. Sometimes the second bracket is better — a lot of degree programs have you learn extraneous things, which is what I’m finding on my search for a suitable grad or certificate program. And there’s so much you can learn the way of the autodidact… honestly, just going to the library and checking out anything and everything that interests you is important.

    I am always on the look out for books on art history, architecture, some specific movements or people I like, graphic design, advertising survey volumes, etc. If I had unlimited bookspace and resources, my personal library would be huuuuuuuuge :).

  7. Good point, Renata. Never underestimate a good read, especially where typography is concerned. Ah for a limitless library.

  8. It was fun reading your answers! I wish I would have discovered WordPress sooner, too, but now that I use it, I can’t imagine working without it.

    Brian’s themes are just some of the most solid, easiest to customize, and well thought out themes around. You can not go wrong with any of them.

  9. Minibus UK

    Nice article, it’s wordpress all the way for me, it is just so easy to use!

  10. Thanks for going further into depth about your education and background, it’s always nice to hear what people have gone through to learn what they know!

  11. David–

    Another great post. Your commentary makes me want to bite the bullet and go for the self-hosted .org blog rather than my .com. I’m just not sure if I can handle that level of control quite yet…

    This is my first comment, but I’ve been a huge fan for a few months–ever since “What makes a great logo?” You’re one of my sources of inspiration for my job. Keep on doing what you do!

  12. Yeah like most others I use WP as well..

  13. I enjoy reading these personal insights. Was there a reference in there to your religious convictions too?

    Hope to see more of these posts. And congratulations on passing the 4000 visitors mark–that’s a truly impressive stat.

  14. Thanks Char, seems you’re not the only one who prefers the personal posts.

    Danny, you’re very welcome.

    Amanda, thanks for your first comment. It’s great to know there’s something to inspire here.

    John, thanks for the congrats. I’ll see what I can do in the future. As for religious convictions, I’m more a science kind of person.

  15. David, however did you guess as to why I asked the question about your favorite theme! :) Great answers – always nice to see people respond to questions like that.

  16. I had a sneaky suspicion Brian. Great questions.

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