My Dirty Little Secret About a Career-Launching Design

The new Copyblogger, based on the Cutline frameworkIt seems ridiculous to call something that was created in February of 2006 an “old classic,” but here we are.

Just 9 short months ago, an anonymous Joe by the name of Brian Clark contacted me about designing a site for a little side project he had in the works. Now, at the time, all I knew of Brian was that he knew where to place a comma in a sentence, so to put it another way, I liked him already.

Of course, the snarky copywriter lowballed me into near slave wages, and a week or so later, I emerged with the original Copyblogger design. Although I had no idea at the time, that design would basically end up serving as the foundation for a career niche that I actually enjoy.

I have no clue how many emails and referrals I’ve received from the little link at the bottom of that site, but I can safely say that it probably rivals the attention I’ve received from all my other designs combined. The one thing that nobody seemed to notice on Copyblogger, though, was…

My dirty little secret.

The truth is, that design was held together by rusty nails and duct tape, and Brian was constantly IMing me with claims that the sky was falling.

Of course, the sky was firmly intact, but whenever Brian tried to do anything new with his site, a rusty nail would pop out here or there, reaffirming the fact that my design skills progressed a bit more quickly than my coding skills.

9 Months Later…

Fast-forward to now, and that “anonymous Joe” behind the Copyblogger mask is essentially an A-lister by just about any conceivable metric. And, as we all know, popularity and fame breed opportunity, and Brian finally hit a point where my crappy code was preventing him from scaling out his Web site to meet his growing needs.

Fortunately, I’ve learned a thing or two since February, and I knew it was time to fix Copyblogger’s gallstones, intestinal disorder, and renal failure. Oh, and I had to get rid of the duct tape and rusty nails, too — you know, with all the fear of tetanus, 100% fatality rates and whatnot…

Copyblogger now runs on the outstanding Cutline framework for WordPress

The New Copyblogger

With surgical precision, I took the piddling mess that was the old Copyblogger and turned it into the lean, mean, page-rendering machine that you see now…

Actually, the truth here is that it required very little precision and/or expertise in order to get the job done. In fact, I coded everything up, including tweaks, in 5 or 6 hours by utilizing the Cutline framework. By 1999 standards, that’s ridiculous for an entire working Web site, but that shows you just how far we’ve come since then.

Although the site looks much the same as it did before, everything under the hood is completely new. It’s like dropping that six fo’ Impala on an entirely new chassis, cause now you ballin’, cuz.

WordPress is the platform that makes it all possible, and open-source themes like Cutline allow you to make the most extensible use of an already-amazing piece of free software.


Brian’s outstanding blog is growing by leaps and bounds, and so are his opportunities for revenue and expansion. By adapting to a design that adheres strictly to established Web standards, I think he’s making a very intelligent, very savvy move that will prepare him for the road ahead.

I hope other A-list-quality sites will take notice and follow suit, but then again, I always have been a bit of a dreamer.

Whether you are a site owner, a designer, or both, it’s absolutely key to ensure that your site is not only ready for today, but also for tomorrow.