Every once in a while, we do a post on free software (that works), free graphics, free templates and other completely free stuff that's available on the web.
There are still a lot of really great independent websites offering quality free software, graphics and more.
A few days ago, I was looking at a blog that just stood out. It was simple but had impressive graphics (and icons), a clean layout and a professional flair. It reminded me of a graphics website that I hadn't visited in a while.
There a a few blog gurus that have written that you shouldn't use 'standard templates' or plain vanilla pages. As far as 'circulation', the theory really doesn't hold water as some of the most visited blogs on the Internet are 'standard' (Think Matt Cutts or Robert Scoble). Most of the Google blogs are also, for the most part, 'vanilla'.
There are a lot of factors that play into a blog or website's popularity, most importantly, good content.
On the other hand, if you can make your site look slick, without wasting valuable real estate, (especially above the fold), why not? The graphics crowd might visit more often, or better yet, they may just link to you!
So, as I was about to delve into the world of XML and work on this blog a little, I realized it's 3 AM (and I really should sleep once in a while?), and instead, decided to write this piece and point you to where I was going next.
More than just 'free graphics', Smashing Magazine has carved out a niche among the graphics crowd and is not only loaded with freebies, but tons of advice, web graphics, screensavers, icons, flash and photoshop stuff, css, and more.
There are tools to customize your browser, desktop, blog, website... with a dash of SEO.
Sven Lennartz and Vitaly Friedman have done a great job maintaining and growing this popular destination.
If you haven't been there before, or lately, put aside a little time this weekend and visit Smashing Magazine.
You'll probably find yourself hanging out there for a while :)