A Conversation with Patrick about Blog Design
His Blog: california is a recipe for a black hole
Things to note when you visit: what a blogspot template can become
I introduce you to Patrick and his blog to start the design conversation for several reasons: Patrick’s a writer not a designer. He has a good eye, but admits he’s no good at code. He’s a blogger who took a basic template and made it uniquely his own–so much so you have to look to see the blogspot underneath it.
Here are Patrick’s thoughts about his blog and its design.
Patrick, what made you start the blog?
I had been reading two blogs–5ilver.net (now defunct) and sdfsdf.wox.org. I always thought I could do something like that, but I fretted about the daily routine of keeping one up. Finally, after a few weeks off work and without any real reason not to, I decided it was about time. I wrote my first post, and I have been writing ever since. That was September 1st, 2004.
The name obviously had a part in the design. What’s its story?
The name’s actually a line from my favorite song, “Pictures of Success” by my favorite band, Rilo Kiley. It’s always been a favorite phrase of mine. It sums up the mixture of forlorn and wistfulness that I think permeates my life. Also, the inclusion of musical influences is one aspect I knew I wanted to include on my blog.
How did you get to the “look” of your site?
When I first started blogging I started off with a template. As I continued to write, I started tweaking the “look” of my site. I chose a palette of blacks and greys to adhere to the “black hole” theme. The header picture I took myself on a drive home from work, which I then tweaked with to produce the “black hole” effect.
As for links, I decided that, rather than plop down a huge blogroll, I wanted a small selection of blogs I actually read on a regular basis. Once a site stops being updated, or if the address changes, I drop it. I don’t want the huge lists that other sites have. I want everyone to know that the sites I like are a select few and that I can guarantee you that each one on my list of favorite things is worth the effort to visit.
Why a partner?
I don’t think anyone can be interesting every day of the week. I brought Breanne in because I know she’s a good writer, and she has interesting stories to tell about her life. We both have similar views on what the site should be about and stand for. Also, our lives crisscross so much that it only made sense that I brought her aboard.
More importantly, she makes working on the site fun because I always know she’s right there to tell me what is and isn’t working.
What was your biggest mistake?
I suck at coding. I’ve had many meltdowns trying to “improve” the look of the site.
What change made the greatest improvement?
Getting away from that damn template.
What do you wish you could do for your blog?
I just want to gain more readers and continue to post on this site for many decades to come.
What was the best advice anyone gave you?
The customer is not always right. In fact, a pretty good average is to say they’re wrong about 50% of the time. In most things, especially my writing, I try not to limit myself in terms of what, how, or who I write about.
What advice would you give a beginner?
Breanne and I have a saying whenever we go into writing a deeply personal or uncomfortable topic:
“Ride hard and kill ’em all!”
That’s pretty much the philosophy when it comes to being worried about what people reading might think.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Take a look at this unique site that shows what one guy can do with a blogspot template, some time, some hardwork, and some creativity. Patrick has made it his own. A place that’s unique, memorable and truly representative of the quality of the writing that it promises when you look further. Stop by Tuesday to be part cf the community discussion about works for you and what doesn’t in this unusual blog design. Maybe I can coax Patrick to be there too.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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