Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
A web designer with an attitude (he did his site while drunk) (alittlebitofsomething.co.uk)
184 points by cpg on July 24, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 77 comments

everyone wants to rag on the portfolio (fine, go ahead) but the long-form copy on that page is great. it's really well laid out, easy to read, and got probably everybody to scroll from top to bottom and read almost the whole thing.

as someone who's unsuccessfully been trying to coax something similar out of a designer, it's refreshing to see. my product requires a bit of convincing and explaining, so the standard business type website with a couple pictures thrown in isn't as effective. long copy is hard to get right and this guy nailed it.

Getting someone's attention is only one objective of a portfolio site. The most important one isn't as easy: convince people to hire you. Sure, many people are likely to scroll down. But his "argument" isn't compelling, nor is his work. He just comes off as difficult, arrogant, and not very good at design.

Maybe he has potential as a copywriter, but if he's going to use it, he needs to keep his eye on the objective for which he's writing.

Actually this is very British humour. It may not work well for everyone, but in Britain, it's likely to be memorable in a positive way for many people who read it.

If you try to appeal to everyone you might end up appealing to nobody. Some people will respond very positively to his message - and that's all he needs.


There are two general reasons why a hn comment might get downvoted.

First, if you are not contributing something positive to the conversation, most people will downvote you. This is why the comment where you are asking why you got downvoted is now downvoted.

Next, it is generally considered acceptable to upvote comments you agree with and downvote comments than you disagree with. I think this is why the comment you are asking about was downvoted initially.

Note, there is some controversy about downvoting because you disagree. Personally, I feel like this makes hacker news a more uniform and less interesting place than it would be otherwise, but I believe I am outvoted in this matter. On the other hand, upvoting or downvoting is clearly better than content-free 'me too' posts.

I kind of have the impression that "there is no such thing as bad publicity" is the general view here. I made a comment which I deleted* which was also downvoted and also agreed with the idea that not all publicity is good publicity. I like the quote (attributed to Mae West and various others) that "There's no such thing as bad publicity" but I don't think it's really accurate if taken too literally.

* Not because of the downvotes but just thought better of it -- like I think I am blathering on too much here about me in a way that could lead to trouble.

I see, thanks for your response. I think that "there's no such thing as bad publicity" makes sense. It's certainly true that the downside of this site is not that it's drawing people in who don't like it. I think the problem is that the publicity isn't likely to overcome the deficit in work that's likely to result from serious potential clients being turned off. The publicity isn't necessarily bad, but the portfolio website is, if that makes sense.

Still, I thought generally "adding value" isn't contingent on agreement. Do people generally downvote things they disagree with? (Sorry if this is a dumb question, haven't been here for long.)

Sometimes people have a slip of the finger, especially on certain devices (iphones or the like). Sometimes someone just doesn't like you personally. There is no way to completely rid a community of that. Sometimes the phrasing was just really poor. "Low content" posts are sometimes downvoted and, yes, downvoting to express disagreement does happen. Stick around a bit. Get a feel for the place. Learn as you go. Brush it off. The next discussion is a chance to start anew. The size of the place seems to genuinely foster that more than other forums I have been on.


Can't reply to the reply for some reason, but duly noted. Thanks very much for the explanation! Obviously there won't be any need for me to post something like this again.

Well. This guy seems to be good at doing graphics. I like the graphics in the thumbnail he put. I don't like the sites design in the portfolio thumbs, but I need to get the full site URL and display it on my screen to be sure.

I like how he presented himself and the website coding. There are two points, though:

1. Don't use images for Text. He can use cuffon or font-face

2. I need to click the thumb. Since the page doesn't showcase any particular design and coding skills then I need to check the websites he made.

Why the site is good, in my opinion? Because it's unique. Good designers now focus on clean and well designed portfolios with JavaScript effects and little text and information. This is something unique and original. It's different. If I want to hire the guy, then I'll check his portfolio (that's why I need to click the thumbs) and decide.

The industry's not quite to the point where you can get rid of text-as-images. @font-face is supported in maybe 50% of browser versions, requires several different font formats, and even if you get it to work uniformly, you still have to deal with licensing issues.


I agree you should prefer text to images of text, but sometimes you can't escape it. EDIT: And I agree that in this particular case, he could've just used appropriately-styled text. :)

@font-face actually has pretty incredible browser coverage:

Safari 5.03, IE 6-9, Firefox 3.6-4, Chrome 8, iOS 3.2-4.2, Android 2.2-2.3, Opera 11 (http://www.fontspring.com/blog/the-new-bulletproof-font-face...)

It does require different file formats, but these can be generated trivially:


@font-face is pretty widespread, but licensing is a many-headed beast, it's true.

Typekit, however, has really extensive browser support (http://help.typekit.com/customer/portal/articles/6786-browse...) and, of course, appropriate licensing built in.

There's too many great solutions for web typography to have images be an acceptable solution these days.

Unimpressive portfolio. All too common of an attitude in both creative and engineering oriented industries. The greatest things are built through collaboration, and the most brilliant people are generally the most humble — their work speaks for themselves.

The markup isn't great at all, and the overall usability and typography choices suck. Get over yourself, millennial.

I was with you until you threw in millennial.

Fully agreed that the greatest things are built through collaboration.

What if the customer didn't want that tricked out design you made? Are they going to get made fun of for having a simple website that people can understand and use with ease? Probably not.

The designer and customer need to work TOGETHER to get something great. The designer doesn't know the ins and outs and the passion behind the business, the customer does.

Work together and get something that looks pimp but is still in line with what the customer wants.

I'm not sure about you but I definitely don't show my humble side when I'm drunk.

In all seriousness though, I appreciate his attempt to be avant-garde. If it backfires, we know why. If it gets him a few jobs, we know why.

Definitely agree with you about the usability, the giant header cut right at the bottom of my 1600x900 screen, I had to look at the source of the page before I realized I was supposed to scroll down to see more.

Your not the only one, caught me too.

> and the most brilliant people are generally the most humble

So he’s not one of the most brilliant; he’s just good. You can also be humble and rubbish.

I lol'd, he wrote it drunk after all. This is how all developers feel on the inside about their work. And I think it works great for showing that he isn't a boring neckbeard behind the computer.

Down with corporations! and stuff...

Maybe, just maybe, a really really talented designer can get away sounding that cocky, but I doubt they would.

Taste is subjective, but this is my area of expertise and I'd say he's middle of the road, so his attitude comes across as plain old arrogance to me.

I also think that web designers should be able to code, but that's a whole other debate.

That guy sure is cocky, considering his profile consists of run of the mill/average website designs. Half of his portfolio looks like it could be from templatemonster.

Personally, I'd describe it as a healthy serving of a type of British humor!

I recognize the one in the 4th column, 3nd row from themeforest.net

Found it! Here it is on his site: http://i.imgur.com/9rFCs.png

And here it is on themeforest.net: http://themeforest.net/item/business-solutions/152308


(Wonders if this feat can be replicated for the woman with the orange background and no text...nah, probably not.)

Looks like a recoloring of a photo of Rachael Leigh Cook.

This search result is only good for 72 hours but http://www.tineye.com/search/8177b52b0e52f8b05e164b65ed2428f... Some of the links from the search page are NSFW. If that's dead just paste the URL of the image you want to search for (http://www.alittlebitofsomething.co.uk/images/folio_rlc.gif) into http://www.tineye.com/ .

It also looks like all the other sites follow the exact same HTML conventions and styling. Some are done in PHP and some in ASP (...) Since you found "birdrating.com" on themeforest, and since they all follow similar conventions, it's plausible that the others come from themeforest as well.







At ~$2000 / site (which may be negotiable), I doubt he's doing them all from scratch. It seems he does the graphics, text, and setup.

He might be more run-of-the-mill than brilliant. But then, he probably knows a lot more than his client, and he's trying to drive that point in.

On the other hand, he says he's like the guy who does finish work on the underside of a cabinet and indicates this is why he's not exactly happy with his financial situation. (I am not a hacker, so I can only infer based on his remarks, not judge what he's posted in terms of a portfolio.)

Agreed the examples are mediocre. I don't mind the attitude at all though.

The attitude is fine and refreshing- But please, be able to back it up :)

If you can, it makes it all worth while. If not, you come off in the wrong way.

The mistake you make is thinking this guy has something to prove to you, me, us...if his clients are happy with their sites that is all that matters.

If he buys templates and customizes them and his clients are happy, who are we to mock him? Does it make us feel superior?

Being cocky is one way to try and sell yourself if you don't have a particularly impressive portfolio yet.

Considering everyone has to start from square one at some point, I hardly blame alternative tactics to "Look at these sites I designed, aren't they awesome?". Not everyone can have designed... whatever sites you think are good.

Alright, so, there are good and bad things about this. First, the good. The copy is pretty solid and for someone with a sense of humor, it's quite charming. It's not too rude and for the person with a decent head on their shoulders, it shouldn't upset them. The bad, however, is the quality of work that rests on the shoulders of that brass copy. It's not necessarily bad, but it doesn't muster up to the talk that's going on. Not to mention, you can't even click on anything in the portfolio so it sort of makes the work worthless. Cute, but the whole thing should be put back in the oven for a wee bit.

I like the attitude. Should resonate with the type of client he is looking to get. At least then he avoids working with people who are too uptight for him to get along with.

I hope someone creates another site from the perspective of the engineer who has to implement his outlandish designs. The first sentence: "If it were as simple to do on a website as it is in Photoshop, I would have done it". Followed by: "I'm paying you so do what the fuck I want."

The only "engineers" that complain about implementing "outlandish" designs are ones who don't understand HTML/CSS/JS as much as they say they do. Literally anything is possible on the Web.

Agreed. Back in the bad old days of table-based layouts it wasn't always possible but in the modern age of CSS2+3, HTML5, and sweet libraries like jQuery it's the rare case where the site can't be bloody close to the design comp (unless you're in IE 6/7, in which case it'll still look good but won't have all the roundy corners and font shadows and such).

The entire Kamasutra is possible, it doesn't mean you should necessarily be doing it all.

Depending on the design, some would require some sort of ugly hack and a lot of testing to get it to work in all browsers consistently. Sure, anything is possible on the web, but it'll probably require flash or use a fixed position layout.

Because we all know that engineering doesn't exist outside of building web apps.

Some of the samples are compelling and beautiful. I'm annoyed they are not clickable.

But the rest is kind of "meh". Like I've never heard a talented, intelligent professional whine before about this type thing. My advice: Put some of that intelligence towards learning how to better market yourself or some such so you make better money and have less to kvetch about.

He made the front page of Hacker News, didn't he?

Not all publicity is good publicity.

This publicity is good publicity. Anyone who doesn't want to work with him had never heard of him before and will soon forget him. Anyone who might want to work with him, hadn't heard of him before.

ok, good point. However, based on my experience with HN, I bet the second segment of people you describe are under represented here. I generally see swagger discouraged around here so a strategy like this is not effective, even if it made the frontpage.

He's a no-name designer (not to be too disparaging) in a sea of no-name designers. A tiny percentage of a large (HN) crowd is still going to be a bigger audience for him than he might have got with a plain site.

I have more experience and a broader portfolio, but do you think anyone would have reason to submit my site to HN? Nup.

If the large percentage rubbed the wrong way by this were likely to rain his house with stones, he'd have a problem, but they won't. They'll move on to the next topic and forget him pretty quickly.

On top of that, he will get a more receptive crowd as this moves around Twitter and the like too.

I'd guess that big business or even medium enterprises won't touch him, but anyone needing a freelancer or with a start-up might. Those two groups would be reasonably well represented here.

The attitude is more compelling than the work. But, in a group of candidates of similar quality, I would be more likely to hire the guy with a sense of humour.

This guy knows how to market. He's like Zed Shaw


This reminded me of the flipside of doing everything the client wants:


Agreed with ForrestN. I don't see anything special about this. That guy is not a designer himself. He just mere know how to use the tools yet he thinks so.

An edgy package for conservative, second-rate work. Not surprised you can't click on the thumbs.

His websites look like every cookie-cutter wordpress "business" theme out there... Horrible, to put it nicely. His "graphic design" is no more than a few mouse clicks in illustrator on someone else's photographs.

Not even sure why we're talking about this.

Because it makes people feel better about themselves to knock someone down who dares to stand out. I say good for him.

I wasn't concerned with his marketing approach.

tldr version: this guy is not a horse, clearly a human, but possibly has fantasies of being a grizzly bear.

I'd be intimidated to work with him (due to the snarky attitude) if I weren't comfortable with technology stuff. But otherwise he might be entertaining to hire.

He managed to get some publicity, so I guess he reached the goal. I wouldn't hire him though, he gives the impression that he is a pain to work with.

Too bad that "professional expert" website designer doesn't even follow 960px width, the entire right side of that page is cutoff in my browser.

Maybe it's because I use windows large fonts but a pro would have considered that. Actually it seems he uses 1000px image width so right there is a lack of understanding that 40px makes a big difference in adapting design to what the market will accept.

"And yes I'm the same idiot that sold a used wetsuit on eBay for £9,000."

Ah, I remember this!


very similar, but an ebay listing not a portfolio website. he certainly knows how to copywrite in a way that gets him traffic.

If you've ever had to do a website for a small biz, you typically find that either a) you end up doing the copy or b) the site never gets finished (and you don't get paid, or if you do get paid, you get to put an empty site in your portfolio). Good copy-writing is thus very handy skill to have (and this guy, in his eBay listing at least, absolutely nails it... the £9k bottom line speaks for itself).

Truer words were never spoken. "What's that, you expect me to produce 40 pages of technical-but-intelligible copy for procedures on your plastic surgery website? But that's why I gave you [insert CMS of choice here], so your people could log in and edit that themselves...my god man, I'm a web developer, not a medical research technician...what's that? You don't have people? Sigh."

He lacks standout skill, but he sure has moxie and that counts for a lot.

Anyone else notice an annoying horizontal scrollbar (at 1024x768) due to the unnecessary 10px body padding?

To me, that simple detail alone belies the second statement of his copy.

I would have chosen the fax machine over Billy Joel in 1991. The fax machine at least has the potential of being useful.

This guys website stinks, ending up with positive response from most of the peoples.

It's better to be controversially beautiful than universally cute. Well done, guy.

I'd hire that guy.

I'd work with him.


Another company with an attitude: http://gandi.net : "No Bullshit" (they have a trademark sign on it, but i doubt they 've actually applied for it)

How come designers can have an attitude, but developers can't?

uh? Many many developers have an attitude. many many do, like dhh, zed shaw and many others. They can be engaging.

There was something about the copy of this guy that was both repulsive and engaging all in the same serving ... like a train wreck you can take your eyes off.

Not so directly: "I make programs, not shit programs, good ones, you're not the programmer, so shut up". This guy tries to come off as edgy but sounds more like someone who beats his wife.

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact