How To Cheat At Web Page Design (and almost get away with it)

For The Artistically Challenged

Not being a graphic designer but trying to be a one man band web developer used to be limiting.  Today there are lots of tools to help plug any lack of artistic ability. Of course you’ll never be as convincing as a good graphic designer,  but you’ll get by.

Look Around the Web For a Site That Fits

I am in the middle of a new web development project for a long standing client. We are re-branding his website to fit in with the new company colours he’s chosen. And, taking the opportunity while we are at it, to add in all the functionality he has ever wanted on the site.

I have a lot of database backend stuff to write, work-flow to develop and so on. The graphic design element of my task is not my favourite.  Here is what I do.  I look around the web for someone else’s site that has vaguely the right layout for my needs.  Then I attempt to do my own version of it. Because I am so bad at copying someone else’s site, there is no chance that the new site will be much like the one I used for inspiration.

Here is the home page of the site I have designed for my client, as it currently stands.

And here is the site design that I used for inspiration. As you can see, they are quite different, but I used the ideas in one to help me create the other. I have not finished this task yet so the home page will change, but you get the idea.

Graphics Tools and Sites Used


  1. Will – Use Thesis. I have no idea about Flexx. With Thesis you only ever need one theme as it can be made to look like anything.

  2. I am just starting the process of developing a website. I am using wordpress and a flexx theme. Even though the flexx them gives me some flexiblity, I am still having issues with the size (width) and changing the background colors. Another issue I am having is that my site is somewhat jumbled (boarders don’t flow, but blead into the text) if opened in Internet Explorer, but open fine when using Firefox….Any suggestions?

  3. I think the templates and Themes you have adopted and the change in colours effected emphasize the variability and difference.

  4. Don’t worry template design – people will still buy your stuff.

  5. I think borrowing the best from a number of website page design can yield a truly imaginative and different web page design altogether.

  6. Template Design says

    Taking idea is not bad thing, but copying means designer is not the designer but the cheater.

  7. hi Liz,
    how do you make a web design mock up? which one is better, adobe photoshop or adobe fireworks? thank you? 🙂
    .-= e-k-o´s last blog ..Speedy Vs Slowly =-.

  8. Liz Jamieson says

    I admit the recent posts have been more technical . . .

    But on the subject of “color” vs “colour” – I found this list! I have been at this desk too long.

  9. I like that you spell colors with a u…. I’m gonna start doing that. 🙂 As far as all the “skilled” work… I dunno. I think it’s easier if I just start adding u’s when I write the word “colour”. It looks so smart!


  1. […] design of a site. I get hold of any easy to use graphics tools that are available. I’ve done another post that lists the tools l […]