Please, Create a Unique Site and Avoid the Crap @ 72nd Ave.

Please, Create a Unique Site and Avoid the Crap.

With the internet becoming overrun by mirror blogs, regurgitated posts, and mile long inspiration lists, it's time for everyone to start creating unprecedented content and something unique.


Free Templates

Unfortunately, free templates, particularly WordPress themes, are being produced at an alarming rate. At first it may seem hard to resist using a free template, but create your own and you'll be one step ahead.

Stock Icons

Take the time to create your own original social icons. It will help you stand out from the crowd.

The Same Old Content

Try not to look for your next blog entry while scouring the many design and inspiration blogs you have bookmarked. Get away from your computer. Sit outside. Go for a long walk. Head over to your local book store. Trust me, other avenues will work.


A New Trend

Easier said than done, but not impossible. Continue pushing the envelope when it comes to navigation, layout and typography. With a little work you just might help the community slide into something new.

A Unique Name

Does the community really need another "Design Date" or "Inspiration Nation?" Your URL is important. It should reflect you and your content. Don't be generic.

Something Fresh

Don't create content for contents sake. The web is already filled with enough trash. Create unique content and a unique design, it'll help cut down on the number of Inspiration Lists and give your users something valuable. Try it.

Phil Mckeith December 2nd, 2009

Well said, really good advice for anyone interested in creating original, engaging and insightful content.

Are you starting a web revolution :)

Phil Mckeith

Brandon Kitajchuk December 2nd, 2009

I agree. My least favorite thing is stock themes. I love WP, but not the reused monotony. They make it so easy to design from scratch, so why not!? Plus, its really fun!!!
Thanks, cool words to take in.

visitor December 2nd, 2009

uh right, like if everyone started using handwritten fonts, yah, that’s the ticket. I dont think so

Rick December 2nd, 2009

you forgot to put flash under things to avoid

another visitor December 3rd, 2009

You have a typo under “The Same Old Content”. It should say “you have bookmarked” not “your have bookmarked”.

Omaivy December 5th, 2009

Awsome web page and awsomes concepts, xcelent!

Leroy December 6th, 2009

The Amiga computer of the mid-late 80’s inspired innovation. I remember a program that fit on a floppy and it allowed anyone to play instruments on projected images. Would like to see graphic programs of that caliber, helping non-artists create webpages off computer. I imagine edge detection program with music, projected on a screen. I move shapes with large arm-body movements instead of small jerky pen/pencil or mouse movements. It would allow people to think big and feel what they are creating… like thinking outside-the-computer-box.

Jamie Calabro December 6th, 2009

Thanks for all of your comments!

@rick: At this point, Flash goes without saying even though there plenty of well-suited uses for it.

abhinav saraswat December 7th, 2009

well said, friend… I agree ! cheers

Aurel December 8th, 2009

Awesome, thanks for the freshness

Andrew Volk December 8th, 2009

I really like this nifty form I’m filling out right now. Nice work!

Mike Klein December 8th, 2009

I totally agree. My Wordpress template makes me feel guilty.

Time for something new. Something fresh.


Amr El Kouedy December 9th, 2009

well said, i like you guys.

100 true (Y)

Dan December 9th, 2009

I’m really digging this whole site. This form is sweet. Way to break outside the box. Great execution. Fresh. Nice work!

- Carmen - December 9th, 2009

This is a lovely website! Special enough…
I like the concept and simple drawing :)

Ka-Chun Chau December 9th, 2009

This is stunning.

Luuk December 9th, 2009

Please create a unique website & make sure it is crossbrowser compatible

Martyn Clark December 9th, 2009

Great statement have to agree with you totally.

Danny December 9th, 2009

Hello Everyone!!
I love simple website design. Something out of the box fresh. I like your site concept. :)

Syed Ariful Haque
Art Director

Karri December 9th, 2009

Absolutely true.

It’s weird that you can read ten design blogs and the content is pretty much the same – “Top 15 this” and “30 Best Ways that”. It’s monotone and boring.

Design should extent the content – the writing and information – of the site. It’s like someone wiser said: good design without good content is decoration.

M. Joshua December 9th, 2009


I concur with your thesis. Though, it should be a kind of a “duh” if you asked me. Our job (as designers) is understanding one’s expectation/perception and then subverting it to accomplish a communication objective.

Your preaching is good, though. Your hands have web-callouses.

Question: Is your site all hand-coded?

Jamie Calabro December 9th, 2009

@All: I truly appreciate the kind words. Thanks!

@M. Joshua: Thanks! Yes, all hand-coded with the exception of Wordpress pushing around my pages.

@Luuk: I decided to target modern browsers only, but made certain that older ones, and IE8, were covered. Perhaps not flawlessly, but working nonetheless. Users running IE will have a slightly different layout – it shouldn’t affect their experience. I have yet to include an ‘IE warning’ of sorts, but eventually will.

Jeff December 9th, 2009

holy shit, this commenting design looks amazing!

Don T December 9th, 2009

This site is trite.

Tyler Herman December 9th, 2009

An interesting idea but I think there are some usability problems. On a large monitor you really lose sight of the tiny previous button on the bottom right, you’d think this one page was the whole site. A back to top or use the 72nd Ave logo as one, would be a nice way of getting back to the top of the page, there is a lot of scrolling.

The calendar is an interesting idea but I don’t understand why info and comments are listed there with it.

Not trying to be mean, I think you have a really nice thing going here, just a few of my first impressions.

Carlos December 9th, 2009

That’s right! I agree with you in almost everything! But for beginners pick someone’s, like a theme or something, switch it, change it, make it theirs maybe is a good way to begin. Time to time u’ll be able to come up with some craps! Not that i believe in web revolution but creating things that you can identify with its very important for an artist!

Cindy December 10th, 2009

Hi, I just found your blog from one of my inspiration blogs on my blog list-haha
Anyway, good advice. I’m just starting to get into learning how to really design. I will start taking classes in the spring. I learn a lot on my own but I think I can learn so much more in a class and move a lot faster. Here are two of my blogs. Although not perfect in design and layout, I’m pretty happy with them(for a novice:)). I’d love to know your thoughts.
Have a great day!

kre8iv1 December 10th, 2009

I just found your site today, and WOW!
I agree with what you are saying.
I do, however, feel that Flash has its proper place and proper use.
An instructor always told us “Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.”
(specifically referencing when TO, and when NOT to use Flash.)
I have you bookmarked now, and plan to add you to my RSS feed.
Thank you very much, and please keep up your excellent work! =)

Igor December 10th, 2009

A new trend? You did nice job taking Jason Santamarias approach on this site. Nothing new. Sorry.

Unique name?
Here is my unique template for a unique name + . Dont be generic.

Something fresh? IMO — not really.

Igor December 10th, 2009

integer + any combination of letter = unique name. Familiar?

Jamie Calabro December 11th, 2009

@Carlos: I completely agree. Using a stock theme is certainly a great way to learn your way around WordPress.

hasrimy December 11th, 2009

Great ideas only come from a great designer…

Chris Ota December 11th, 2009

Straight and to the point, with a little humor added.

Love it.

Edgar December 11th, 2009

Thanks for this post, it was so inspiring. Just one little thing, I find your site beautiful but is not usable, you know, is not easy to navigate and find what you want, sorry, I had to say it. Best wishes ;)

Josh December 11th, 2009

With the use of the term “Interwebs”, pure “Web 2.0″ design sensibilities, and quirky, smarmy & hostile verbiage with a swear thrown in for good measure, you’re definitely one to be lecturing on originality.

Baronne December 11th, 2009

Thanks. You have inspired me…. immensely.

Denis Leblanc December 12th, 2009

Very well put, thanks for the inspiration.

william martin December 13th, 2009

I LIKE IT>: ooo>L

ask040 December 13th, 2009

you know what would actually be great. if people stopped using the word “interwebs”. shit got played out two years ago

Jeff December 14th, 2009

I like the fact you let your kid do the drawings. Kudos to you my friend.

Anne H. December 14th, 2009

I love some of these comments. They confirm that jealousy is alive and well.

Keep up the great work!

Chalres December 14th, 2009

Nice creative site..@Rick you shouldn’t avoid flash, just put under how to use Flash appropriately.

Garett December 14th, 2009

Yeah…I’m sure Dell or Apple or any other corporation would love this style of site. You should probably specify who you are addressing. Not every site wants to look totally different than anything out there. There are categories and classifications for a reason. Yes, I agree that there is way too many mimics out there. Totally gotcha there, but not all sites with a similar layout is bad.

KARLA December 14th, 2009

i get it, you’re talking about something different, it’s that simple.
it doesn’t have to be complicated. just different.

sara December 15th, 2009

i feel the same way/agree with you…

but most clients and designers don’t care…

people tend to “follow”…ideas, concepts…

and sometimes they make “creative shortcuts”…

robert December 15th, 2009

david Araujo December 15th, 2009

Wow. I feel better now that someone has finally said this. What happened to originality. Everyone is posing as designers by biting off everyone elses work with the same old layout, fonts, style, trends.

dAVID z December 15th, 2009

If you can’t do something unique for yourself and your clients, why bother in the first place. Design does not mean replicate. It means you reach into your heart and mind and create that which was not there before. And always remember that a day in which you do not learn or try something new is not a good day.

John (Human3rror) December 16th, 2009

haha. love it.

Christo December 16th, 2009

“Choose a unique name… your URL is important. It should reflect you and your content. Don’t be generic.”

72nd Avenue? Really?

Sweet type though

hahah December 16th, 2009

Great work on deleting comments you dislike! “very nice”

du December 16th, 2009


Lauren December 17th, 2009

Sigh, I find this website on the night I decide to conform to a web trend. This is my first time, I swear.

castaway December 18th, 2009

beautiful and inspiring, it would be perfect if it also was standards compliant, the devil is in the details ;)

svenoO December 18th, 2009

great work.

does anybody know the name of the red trash font at the top?


Jamie Calabro December 18th, 2009

@svenoO: Dutch Type Library, Elzevir, T Regular

Rob Salaman December 18th, 2009

I agree this is a fantastic way of improving people’s thoughts towards development. Well Said!

Jose December 19th, 2009

To truly do what you are proposing here, we’ll have to go back 7-8 years. Some of the people that are really who they say they are, designers, still do it the old way. The mayority of the projects nowadays have to do with interacting with a social service of any sort. I understand the theme part, for users with blogs, but designers using themes? Now we understand the warnings when the template monster started to sell themes! Sites like the surfstation and others going blogs is not helping either. When was the last time you visited Kaliber1000? What? Who is that?

mark December 20th, 2009

“Try not to look for your next blog entry while scouring the many design and inspiration blogs you have bookmarked”, he said, whilst offering easy ways to share this info in the top right corner, with links to twitter, facebook, stumbleupon, and delicious.

Maxx December 20th, 2009

I have been struggling for along time with the design of my site (not yet launched) because I wanted it to be as unique as possible. Your ideas here have inspired me not to settle into an easy templated solution.

Thanks for the content.

And guys, gals, don’t hate on ‘em for trying to offer a different approach. Encourage it! Yes gently correct (emphasis on ‘gently’), but herald the move. Stop sipping on that Haterade and add some positive feedback.

‘nuf said!

Tim Smith December 22nd, 2009

First off, I love the site! I’m a huge fan of creating a custom design for each article. Making the design fit the content. Instead of the content having to fit whatever theme is installed.

Great article. It’s great to always push the boundaries of creativity; it’s the only way to become better.

FJSDGFJSFJ December 29th, 2009


Cornell January 4th, 2010

For all of you commenters (and the author of this post) acting like it’s some kind of mortal sin if some designs look like others, all I can say is: Really? Every design should look different? Every web page should look different? What does that do to usability?

Let’s use a remote control as an example. If every company that makes a remote control took your philosophy of design, no one would be able to use it. We wouldn’t know, for example, which icon was the “play” icon and which icon was the “stop” icon. Should the numbers be arranged differently. Because if one company had already used the default arrangement, then it would be uncreative to use that again.

Or, let’s use the music industry. Should every song really sound different? What would be the point of genres? There would be no genres because no song would sound similar to another song. You couldn’t tell your friend about a band you like that sounds like a band they like, because hey, they would sound totally different.

I understand the point of this entry. Creativity should be strived for, and websites should be unique. But get off your bloody high horse for a bit and realize that not every client is you. Not every client is a free thinker who would allow their web designer to create a blog like this. As creative as it is, most companies would say hell no. They want their layout to have a familiar look to other sites in their industry. They want to their customers to know what to expect. This post is great for that minority of websites that are design blogs, or agency websites. But for the vast majority of corporate and small business websites, this stuff is just unhelpful.

Waasys January 8th, 2010

Avoid free themes and templates! That’s so true!

José de Almeida January 10th, 2010

This looks amazing… One day I’ll be able to create the same

William Visalli January 12th, 2010

First off, wonderful advice. Second, I love the design of this page, it’s great and you should pat yourself on the back. A triumph of design and sound advice. Well done!

aadil January 13th, 2010

you are exactly right my friend….

come on guys.. spread the word.. let everyone atleast think for a while about their design before the start their own project…

think… that is all needed….

you can obviously use the tools & stuff available online…

but the design you make out of it…. just make sure that stays unique….

thanks for such fresh thoughts…..


Touré January 15th, 2010

This is a wonderful design, I love the originality and the ui that is so straight forward.
I am getting very encourage here to joint the web design arena.

kraymer January 19th, 2010

So by avoiding the same old crap are you suggesting that we make our sites look like crap? kind of like the way this one looks?


Sam Stephenson February 18th, 2010

I am in the process of designing my own blogazine style site with individually designed articles as i belive it makes readers value the whole article more…

Love the comments box design!

Mercy Tapscott February 23rd, 2010

Great job! I love this page and its message. I decided to explore and clicked on your homepage (…Best landing page ever! You made my day.

Myk February 26th, 2010

*clap *clap.

Sebastian Green March 1st, 2010

I love this article. Your designs are fantastic. Its short but strait to the point.

@ kraymer: Innovate.

matthew carleton March 7th, 2010

really great. I am just starting my blog, I am trying to to be creative and make it original. This helps. Thanks.

Daniel March 9th, 2010

Hey! Look at all the Inspiration Lists you’re on now! Congratulations!

Arjun Phlox March 11th, 2010

agree! as a student designer, this is what I wanna hear. thank you! :)

hiuyu May 6th, 2010

what’s the technique to make the bottom bar as yours?

Kyreena Hay May 11th, 2010

Thanks for this :) It’s very refreshing. I’ve increasingly been asked to design things “with my own flair”. For some reason people like my natural style, and reading this made me realise that that is exactly what they are telling me, and I just haven’t been able to comprehend it!

I think half the problem with the lack of innovation out there, is that we have no confidence in ourselves. We want to create perfection, and so look at someone else’s perfection and try to replicate it. Thanks for reminding me how invaluable my own, raw ideas are, in comparison to regurgitating someone elses :)

brittany July 16th, 2010

I purely left a comment because everyone said the form was so cool – I had to try it. It is, indeed, pretty cool!

The content as well… :) Great tips!

Sue Brettell August 15th, 2010

You’re so right! It’s much too easy for someone to set up a blog using a stylish off the peg theme and publish “best of” lists, often cribbed from elsewhere. Unfortunately these sites get good search ranking but their purpose is solely to generate income from their affiliate ads. They’re not looking to build their reputations – have you noticed how they’re often anonymous?

I’m always on the lookout for good curatorship: lists where the blogger has clearly done their research, selected quality examples and added their valuable comment to each item, based on their expert judgment gained from years of experience.

kini wolfgang January 4th, 2011

please help me crate my own website

Braden Grootenboer June 6th, 2011

I understand the point of this entry. Creativity should be strived for, and websites should be unique. But get off your bloody high horse for a bit and realize that not every client is you. Not every client is a free thinker who would allow their web designer to create a blog like this. As creative as it is, most companies would say hell no. They want their layout to have a familiar look to other sites in their industry. They want to their customers to know what to expect. This post is great for that minority of websites that are design blogs, or agency websites. But for the vast majority of corporate and small business websites, this stuff is just unhelpful.

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72nd Ave

72nd Ave is a collection of thoughts from front-end developer and designer Jamie Calabro.