A New Blog Design In 4 Hours

subtext, blogging 0 comments suggest edit

When summer arrives, many like to create a new look via a haircut or new threads. I prefer to change the look of my blog with a new design.

This here design took all of four hours to complete.


Well that’s not exactly true.

It took all of four hours of my time to complete (give or take a few).

You can probably see where I’m going with this if you’re one of the many to have read The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich recently. Wondering what all the buzz was about I decided to go ahead and purchase the book to see for myself.

What I expected was yet another time management book dispensing tired advice on how to get more done in less time. Instead, the focus of this book, written by Tim Ferriss is all about being more effective with your time by cutting out the cruft. Don’t do more in less time, do less (more effectively) in less time.

In many respects, Tim is savage about cutting out time wasters in your life such as email and reading the newspaper. He’s also a big fan of mini-retirements and outsourcing your personal life. This book is not about time management, it’s really about lifestyle management.

The outsourcing theme is one that particularly resonates with me. When I first graduated from college, I used to always take my clothes to a fluff and fold. Some friends told me I should do it myself since it would “build character”. So would milking cows to gather my own milk, but nobody faults me for picking up milk from Trader Joes. I figured I’d rather spend that time playing soccer, so I would drop off the dirty clothes before soccer and pick up the clean, dry, and folded clothes right after. It felt like a perfect trade.

Fast forward and upon reading this book it occurred to me that I spend a lot of time doing things I either don’t like to do, or things I like to do but suck at. For example, I spent a lot of time trying to redesign my blog to create a unique and polished look, only to come up short. I realized I should look around for a designer interested in getting his own name out there that might give me a discount for a design in exchange for the promotion. This would allow me to spend that time building a strength of mine rather than banging my head against a weakness.

So after browsing various blog design sites I happened to stumble upon Scott Carnett over in Abilene, TX. After pitching him the idea, he was on board and excited to work on the design. I only found out after we started that he’s a Java developer by day and design is a little side thing he’s into. I had it in my head that he was full-time freelancer.

Not that any of that matters. I am very pleased with the design he has created and recommend him highly if you’re looking for a bit of design work. He was extremely pleasant to work with and provided a quick turnaround. I have a few other ideas for the future that I may collaborate with him on.

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42 responses

  1. Avatar for Rob Conery
    Rob Conery July 7th, 2007

    First comment on the new blog! w00t! I've arrived!
    I gotte read that book... the blog looks great!!

  2. Avatar for Simone Chiaretta
    Simone Chiaretta July 7th, 2007


  3. Avatar for Rob Uttley
    Rob Uttley July 7th, 2007

    Wow - Love the new look. That was time (and money) really well spent. Here in Safari, it looks bright clean and fresh, perfectly judged lettering.... nice one! Congratulations to Scott on a job well done.

  4. Avatar for Steven Harman
    Steven Harman July 7th, 2007

    Wow... just wow, it look really great.
    Maybe we can get Scott to get us a few designs for Subtext in general :)

  5. Avatar for Scott
    Scott July 7th, 2007

    Theme looks great!
    The 4-hour work week guy is a giant douche. He "outsourced" an apology to his wife. He "outsourced" worrying about a project.
    Plus he's made some questionable claims on his blog.
    D to the O to the UCHE.

  6. Avatar for Josh
    Josh July 7th, 2007

    Great looking design! Congrats to Scott!

  7. Avatar for Keyvan Nayyeri
    Keyvan Nayyeri July 7th, 2007

    Very beautiful and good colors :-)

  8. Avatar for Gavin Joyce
    Gavin Joyce July 7th, 2007

    Nice design Phil.
    I just posted a small project on getafreelancer.com. The DotNetKicks.com default template is not great HTML/CSS and am hoping to find someone to translate into a W3C valid CSS/XHTML tableless design:

  9. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked July 7th, 2007

    @Scott - You're mistaken. Look carefully at that link. That's an account from AJ Jacobs, editor of Esquire magazine. Tim Ferriss, the author, quotes from an article AJ wrote. I agree, AJ took it a tad too far, but I think he was doing it as research.

  10. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked July 7th, 2007

    p.s. I saw those questionable claims too, but the Wikipedia article now has citations and confirmations (such as Guinness records) for many of his claims.
    To be honest, even if some of his claims turn out to be exaggerated, I don't think it takes away from his main points. At the very least, his claim to writing a bestselling book cannot be disputed.

  11. Avatar for mike h
    mike h July 7th, 2007

    I've never used any of the out-of-the-box Subtext skins. http://www.kindohm.com

  12. Avatar for Dave Ward
    Dave Ward July 7th, 2007

    The new design looks really great.

  13. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked July 7th, 2007

    @mike - Neither have I, except for my personal blog. However, I'm going to work with Scott on some new nicer looking skins that people will really want to use.

  14. Avatar for engtech
    engtech July 8th, 2007

    I've been futzing around with CSS today.. this is a great reminder that sometimes it's better to let the real designers do the work.

  15. Avatar for mike h
    mike h July 8th, 2007

    clarification... not that the OOB subtext skins are _bad_ :) I just like to add a personal touch to my own site.

  16. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked July 8th, 2007

    @Mike - Understood. :) My goal is to make sure that the Subtext skins look really good and are a great starting point for that.

  17. Avatar for Scott
    Scott July 8th, 2007

    @haacked You're right! Back to remedial reading class for me! Maybe he's just a douchebag enabler. hehehe

  18. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked July 8th, 2007

    @Scott - You calling me a douchebag? ;)

  19. Avatar for Keyvan Nayyeri
    Keyvan Nayyeri July 8th, 2007

    Just a quick question: don't you want to put that MVP badge in your new theme?

  20. Avatar for StefanVE
    StefanVE July 8th, 2007

    Hi Phil,
    Good job on the new skin. I cannot find the searchbox. Did you not port it to the new skin ? I thought it was very usefull.

  21. Avatar for Scott
    Scott July 8th, 2007

    Looks good. Big change from the old skin.

  22. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked July 8th, 2007

    @StefanVE - Doh! I forgot! I'll get on that this week.
    @Keyvan - oh yeah. Thanks for the reminder.

  23. Avatar for Darren Kopp
    Darren Kopp July 8th, 2007

    I like the look. My only beef is that the line spacing may be a bit too large... Looks decent in blocks of text, but next to the photo looks a bit awkward. but that's probably just personal preference, still diggin the look either way.

  24. Avatar for Steve R
    Steve R July 8th, 2007

    Nice layout. From a usability standpoint I'd prefer the comments/print links to be at the bottom of the blog post, though.

  25. Avatar for Anu Oluwadare
    Anu Oluwadare July 8th, 2007

    I think the Blog deign looks great

  26. Avatar for Rick Strahl
    Rick Strahl July 8th, 2007

    Phil, looks great, but what's with the fixed width design? Just wait til you need to post some code and see what it looks like then <g>...

  27. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked July 9th, 2007

    Thanks for the usability tips! Keep them coming!
    @SteveR - I probably need to add the links to the top and bottom because for my own usablity, I like them at the top so I can quickly jump to comments. :)

  28. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked July 9th, 2007

    @Rick - I find the relatively narrow width better for readability. It's for the same reason that newspapers articles are printed in narrow columns rather than fully across the page. However, I'm open to hearing evidence to the contrary.
    Code is in a slightly smaller font so it seems to work OK as this post demonstrates.

  29. Avatar for Darren Kopp
    Darren Kopp July 9th, 2007

    LOL. Just saw something BAD. Look up a bit at my last comment (or Anu's) and you will see that we both started by saying "I..." and that I is inline with the comment title.
    -1 point. so overall you still get 97/100

  30. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked July 9th, 2007

    @Darren - You all are the best QA team in the world!!! :D

  31. Avatar for elysa
    elysa July 9th, 2007

    I do have to say the design looks great but I have nothing to compare to I just found your site today :)

  32. Avatar for Dave
    Dave July 9th, 2007

    The new design is nice.
    I don't know about Tim Ferriss. Listening to him on Hanselminutes I half felt like I was listening to Patrick Bateman talk about Huey Lewis and the News... to me, anyway, he put off a very strange, kind of a one-upper vibe.

  33. Avatar for Owen
    Owen July 9th, 2007

    Theme looks great mate!
    Totally agree with your approach. Some people don't realise the value of time and prefer to "save" money by doing things themselves. What they don't realise is that their time is better spent doing things they enjoy/are good at and letting others focus on their strengths.

  34. Avatar for Scott Watermasysk
    Scott Watermasysk July 9th, 2007

    I really liked the book as well and took away the same core points; don't waste your time on things that are not important. I am sure he exaggerated on some of the details, but I am not expecting to work just four hours a week anytime soon anyway.
    A great book on a similar type of topic is Seth Godin's Dip.

  35. Avatar for ShoeLace
    ShoeLace July 9th, 2007

    what happened to the next/previous post links.
    that was how i normally navigated around

  36. Avatar for hawkes
    hawkes July 10th, 2007

    very good, mainly logo

  37. Avatar for Josh Stodola
    Josh Stodola July 11th, 2007

    I like the new design, it looks really nice (except link to comments should be at the bottom of the blog post, but you arent the only one who made this mistake!).
    However, I am afraid I will have to totally agree with Mr. Strahl, this fixed width craze is overrated. I have a 24" widescreen LCD and my resolution is pretty bloated. Not that I enjoy moving my head back and forth horizontally when reading.... this is just way too narrow.

  38. Avatar for Scott Hanselman
    Scott Hanselman July 12th, 2007

    Phil, could you speak up, I can't hear you over this theme...

  39. Avatar for Dan
    Dan July 15th, 2007

    It certainly is a great looking skin. Kudos, indeed.
    As someone who is not a 'coder' this post was a something of a revelation for me: Do I want work with my blog, or work at my blog?
    subText is a great .net project- perhaps the best of it's breed. However, I was working way too hard trying to tool up to what wordpress can already do... and I realized that my _time_ could be better spent. ~cheers

  40. Avatar for Jussi
    Jussi July 17th, 2007

    Grats for the new layout. One complain from me too, though. Please, make something for the colours when painting with mouse. On main post the background colour changes to white and front stays the same which is bad because of the gradient from yellow to white. On the bottom of the post, you can't see what what you've painted! In comments there's the default dark blue background which is ok but not in line with the main post policy.

  41. Avatar for Brian
    Brian July 21st, 2007

    dood, i liked this blog, it was very useful.
    I'm a big time waster
    brian <> <

  42. Avatar for Matt Ellsworth
    Matt Ellsworth December 19th, 2007

    this is a great design. I just stumbled here today - and i'm glad I did. as for the book by Tim - thats a good book as well.