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Who Designed Your Blog? [POLL RESULTS]

Posted By Darren Rowse 6th of January 2008 Blog Design 0 Comments

Over the last couple of weeks I ran a poll here at ProBlogger which asked readers who designed their blogs.

1828 readers responded in total (thanks everyone).

DIY – The results showed that 57% of you either considerably tweaked a free template (35%) or designed your blog from scratch yourself (22%).

Free Templates – Another 32% of you are using a free template (either a default template that came with your platform (11%) or one from some other source (21%).

Paid Designs – Just 12% of ProBlogger readers paid for their blog design – either by buying a non unique ‘premium’ theme (5%) or hiring a designer (7%).

Here’s how the breakdown looks.


About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Just curious – but what do you believe is better for a blog considering all the poll choices you ran?

  2. This is interesting to know that compared to the rest, those venturing to design their own templates are a considerable minority !

    I now should be proud of being one of them ! ;)

  3. Very interesting seeing how many edit their layout! This is something I need to learn how to do!

  4. this shows there is a market for teaching people how to tweak and modify a wordpress theme…

  5. I thought I was part of a large contingent of bloggers who hired designers to customize their sites. Just 7 percent! Interesting.

  6. Surprisingly small number of custom designs. I do custom designs for blogs and thought the total would’ve been higher.

  7. I think the high number of do-it-yourselfers and smaller number of custom designs is a result of the Darren’s fan base. I fall into the minority here, I had my site designed, but I care enough about staying on top and learning how to make it better that I tune in to his posts, while most third party custom site owners think that it will be fresh and new forever. Readers of this site have already shown that they desire to get their hands dirty or else they wouldn’t be reading, they just fork over the money to someone who already knows what they’re doing. Great Job Darren! There’s a lot of us relying on your knowledge and experience.

  8. I started from the default wordpress theme, but wonder how much harder it would have been to start from scratch. Sure the default theme will work in every single browser, but I found the style sheet rather confusing at times. On the other hand, starting from scratch you would have to include all php yourself etc …

    Are there any good guides online about building one from scratch? Or for editing the default theme completely?

  9. I think it’s a testament to the lack of difficulty required to alter a free theme (well, atleast for WordPress). When I started my site I only knew basic HTML that I learned in the late ’90s. But I spent a little time reading the code and reading up some webdesign websites and I was easily able to tweak my free theme to the way I like it.

  10. Cool stats. Thanks and all the best in 08!

  11. I designed my own site, but I am a web designer. I did need to figure out how to modify the PHP templates, it can be time consuming but worth. I’t importat to brand your site and give it a custom look. I don’t like using stock WordPress templates, BORING………. Branding is important and stock designs just won’t do it.

  12. I have got a unique blog design based on my requirements here > http://www.amitbhawani.com/blog/ and have recieved a great result in terms of traffic and returning visitors.

    New Blog Design : http://www.amitbhawani.com/blog/review-my-new-blog-design-get-reviewed/

  13. I fit into the 22% category. For once, I’m not part of the biggest pie slice. :)

  14. I ended up temendously modifying a free theme and think I did a pretty good job. I probably would be willing to pay, but after searching extensively for premium themes I did not find any that I liked. I also considered hiring a designer, but really could not find enough information out there on who was good, scams, and so forth.

    In the end, I had a blast learning to design my own and I think I am probably going to be a better blogger for it. Using a unmodified theme would be like “using the restroom at someone else’s house” It all works, it just doesn’t feel right!

    ~Mr. Gentlenibbles

  15. I agree with Daniel Bates’ comment. The high ratio of DIY-ers to paid custom designs is probably skewed from the “real world” numbers by Darren’s fan base.
    We’re all here to learn how to make our blogs better, which shows we’re already more interested in doing it ourselves rather than simply paying someone else to blog for us, so it makes sense that this carries through to the layout of our blogs. :)

  16. I think the DIY attitude mentioned above is important. For me it’s even more than that: I want total control of every thing that happens on my blog. Once in a great while I will use someone else’s code for something, but if I can possibly do it myself, I’m going to..

  17. I think these poll results are great.

    @ Dave :

    I have been noticing a lot more lately people taking the tradition blog design, and turning it into a site, minus the comments. I found this somewhat “not-cool” as the community that was most likely built around the blog, is no non-exsistant, unless their is a forum.

    What are your thoughts on that?

  18. Very interesting results! I’ve also tweaked free templates, but I’m considering about a paid template (unique design).

  19. Will be interesting to find out what the traffic stats for the custom designed blogs will be in comparison to free or DIY templates. I think the flexibility of custom designed blogs will add greater flexibility in your message and could also increase the time a reader spends on your blog by adding other cool features to it. I belong to the wordpress theme group and hope to branch out to the custom design soon. Anyone have any tips on any good web developers?

    Check my blog out and let me know what you guys think of the design if you have the time.

    Thanks for your help and feedback.

  20. This isn’t a surprise for me. Since a lot of bloggers quit within the first year, it would seam efficient not to put money into the blog. The people that paid for their theme are likely multi-year bloggers, who believe they can’t create a theme that is compelling enough for there visitors.

  21. Especially when a blogger is just starting out the focus is so much on content rather then design. Also, the benefits of not paying anyone else to design your blog is ideal in the short run. I also agree that the branding is very important and tweaking templates are only temporary until one gets on their feet.

  22. My new design for 2008 is up, and I considerably tweaked a free template. There are only a few things that still bother me about it, and I wish I had the knowledge to fix it. Let me know if y’all have any feedback.

  23. I agree with the idea that most of us that are at this site are do-it-yourself-ers by nature, which will lead to these poll results. Having said that, from the day I created my first blog, I started learning how to tweak it myself to get what I wanted. Too many of the free themes look the same, so I think to stand out you have to be able to edit them into a unique look.

    I personally don’t make enough money off of my blogs to justify paying for a theme or a designer, but I think that if you learn a little about PHP and CSS (which isn’t that hard), you can end up with a pretty nice looking site.

  24. I designed all of the themes that are featured on all my blogs, myself. Should anyone be interested I’m also selling premium WordPress themes, too. ;)


  25. Since this was our first venture into WordPress, tweaking an existing free template from Chris Pearson was the perfect solution for us. We got a great SEO foundation template, backed by an experienced designer who maintains a web site to answer questions. We’ve learned so much in the last month while still being able to customize our look.

    I’d recommend this approach to anyone starting out.

  26. Interesting poll. I’m guessing that aside from those who designed their own – many who had blogs designed for them, originally set out with templates and tweaked them.

  27. Yea . I’m redesigning another template for my website. But it is a pain in the butt.. Even though WordPress is easier.. Its still a pain to understand all the language from the developer.

    I would like to have a web designer to “pimp” up my website..I don’t know if I have the money though..

  28. well, i usually fool around with free templates. I tried to make one template by myself but doesn’t have any luck yet. Hehe =)

  29. It’s the satisfaction of putting together the bits and codes that make up your site design that fascinates me. I started to learn CSS and HTML 3 months ago and I’m literally hooked.

  30. Even though in the blogging world “content is king”, if I come across a default WordPress template or one that is free, I think it shows that a person isn’t prepared to invest any money into their business. Same goes for blogspot or wordpress.com hosted sites…

    Personal blogging, I get… its fun, its fun to tweak your design and add 17 different plugins to your sidebar…and yes, some personal blogs that are particularly captivating have gone on an accidentally made themselves money.

    But for a professional blogger? I am actually very surprised that only 7% of respondents on this site, dedicated to serious blogging, have hired a designer for what is essentially a business venture.

    Of course, I am a designer so I would say that, but I really do believe that if you do it yourself, you either don’t take your business seriously enough to give it a proper image, or its a hobby. If you are serious and if you want to reap financial rewards or any sort of differentiation as a pro blogger, you should invest the thousand-odd bucks in getting someone to do it properly for you.

    If you aren’t a designer, resist the temptation to do it yourself to save a few bucks. Its not just about having CSS and HTML skills and a copy of Photoshop… designers aren’t just web monkeys that hit a magic button and overcharge for the privilege.

    Its akin to representing yourself in court because you read the legislation… you are doing yourself a disservice in the long term.

  31. Fascinating. I would have thought that there are more people buying theme’s than there are designing their own.

    Or perhaps it’s just the crowd who read this blog that are more technically adept.

  32. Wished I participated on that poll but I’m with the people who considerably edited a free blogger template. I’ve gone through several before I finally got satisfied with what I have. I think blogger is more user-friendly and search engine friendly than WP that’s why I went with it. I tried to mess around with WP a few times to see what all the fuss is about but I really don’t get it. I like the versatility of blogger.

  33. Trial and error … trial and error … trial and error …

    I’ve tweaked free templates, used free templates, used the default templates.

    I’ve considering hiring a designer, but since I’m still in experimentation mode, it would probably be a waste for me, since I’d probably swap it out, while I continue exploring, but maybe I should give it a shot.

    What’s important for me is that when I “land” on my blogs, that they “feel” good.

    I haven’t found the magic formula yet, so my blogs are still … evolving.

  34. Well, so I fall in the most one’s category. I also downloaded my blog design from Nick-La’s website. And did a bit a little bit of playing with the keyboard and wella all’s well that ends well. It was all done.



  35. Hey, Darren. How about running a poll asking how much people would willingly pay to hire a designer / how much they’d willingly spend on a premium template / etc. This poll’s results were interesting, though I think they could be elaborated upon.

  36. I would love to see a comparison of the popularity of each blog type. It would be really interesting to see if the people who paid top dollar for an expensive designer faired better than the default template bloggers.

  37. I don’t believe designers can make good money over this, since the layouts for many blogs are simple (nobody will pay for such simplicity). They could do more money from websites with more complex features.
    However, some of them could do more money, because most blogs looks like fashion industry, where only flamboyant’s designers do a good living! :D

  38. I had another thought about these results and I really think that a little further investigation is in order on this subject. The poll is great and I expected the results. However I would be far more interested to see how succesful the blogs are of the people who responded. I have a feeling that the relationship of people that paid for designs vs. those that tweaked free templates will show an inverse relationship when compared to these results.

    So they real value of the survey may come from the question of which path will yield the most success. Afterall, this is a blog about making money…

    The topic is of importance to me due to the fact that I am considering a profesional design for my own site (youngarchitect.net) and shelling out $1000+ for a new design is a tough decision to make when currently I make $0 from ads and have a small readership.


  39. I like the look of your poll. Did you design this? Is this something I can download from somewhere? How can I add a poll like this to my site?

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