Yes, we’re leaving web design industry, not entirely of course, but the general web design so we can focus on something more precise and current. We’ll explain everything in the article, but first let me congratulate you with Year 2016!

One more year has passed, we really hope your year 2015 was awesome – full with amazing experiences and growth!

If you have just started with web design – congratulations, you took a big leap of faith to become a creator.

If web design is your life-long decision, cheers to being committed and passionate throughout all these years. Web designers are shaping online world and making it better – an important role to play.

Wishing you even bigger growth and achievements in 2016!

Note: Before you keep reading, watch this super quick personal video from James!

What can you expect to find in this article?

We will be reviewing the best content published in 2015 on 1WD, share what we learned together with you. Also we are making a big decision to change our focus to WordPress, and we will explain reasons behind it.

[tip]This is becoming a yearly tradition, look what we predicted and promised last year.[/tip]

We will be inviting 1WD readers to start fresh together with us this year. Let’s start over, question all our previous decisions, improve and then focus again.

If you are subscribed to our mailing list already, awesome – if you are with us, we will be inviting you to rejoin our mailing list to show you are still interested in receiving news, freebies and awesome updates from us.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, then read on to understand exactly what we will be offering and if you would be interested in joining us.

Note: Below is the new signup form, in case you come from our existing email list and just want to rejoin and be done with it quickly. But we do encourage to read full article, especially if you are long-time 1WD reader.


[tip]Please read this article carefully, we will be sharing it with all our email subscribers. If  you don’t subscribe again on email signup box at this page, you will never hear from us again, we will retire existing email list in 2 weeks, around January 15, 2016.[/tip]

Want to find out what will 1stWebDesigner commits to deliver to you in 2016?

Want to find out what will 1stWebDesigner commits to deliver to you in 2016?

Top 10 Articles From 2015: 1stWebDesigner’s Hall of Fame

On 2015 1WD published 119 articles, that’s a new article every 3 days. We experimented with a lot heavier focus on helping freelancers to learn crafts and arts of running a freelance business. While we had some good response, it wasn’t enough to be just focusing on it.

Then we started talking more about web design trends, UI, UX and mobile design, which also showed random results. All in all, now in review we understand we didn’t focus enough to give any of these efforts true results.

When you think 1stWebDesigner – what’s the first thing, you would say it’s about? If I think about it myself – I would say random topics about web design. What we are missing here – is strong focus, but we’ll talk about it later when discussing our decision to focus on WordPress.

But now, without further ado, I present the 10 of the best and most popular articles from 2015 on..random web design topics:

1. Learn Web Design From Scratch: Ultimate Resource For Every Upcoming Designer And Freelancer

It is a thorough web design guide (11,000 words) for everybody starting out. In that guide we organized all the best articles that we have published over 8 years of our existence, to provide with easy to follow step by step  resource, that could be used to kick-start your graphic design, web design, coding or freelance skills.

Guide is also always easily accessible by using “Start Here” button in header.

I won’t go so much in depth describing other top articles, but here are the top ten.

  1. 80+ Free Web Design Resources You Thought Didn’t Exist – a handy list of free online design resources, that anybody will find handy.
  2. What Are Top 7 Graphic And Web Design Trends in 2015 To Look Out For? – are you aware in which direction design world is heading? Even if you are not applying these trends, it’s important to know about them.
  3. What Are Web Designers Best Sources For Inspiration? – plain and simple, never again you will complain about lacking inspiration.
  4. 55 Best Premium WordPress Themes From 2015 You Will Love – thorough collection of the best themes available in the marketplace.
  5. Learn How to Build A Website 10x Faster Using WordPress Premium Tools – become a productive designer, don’t miss out on being effective instead of being busy.
  6. Most Common Visual Content Mistakes and How To Fix Them – an awesome guide with actionable tips to help you create better websites starting from today.
  7. 50 Cool Responsive HTML Templates & CSS Templates – don’t start from scratch, save time using amazing templates!
  8. How to Use Image-Focused Design to Increase Conversion – images are taking very important role in every web design, understand how to use this trend to deliver results.
  9. What Programming Language Should I Learn in 2015? – looking to improve your coding skills? Find out the best language to learn in 2016.
  10. 60+ Of The Best And Most Popular WordPress Plugins: Ultimate Toolkit – add powerful functionality with few clicks and no need to know any coding. Save your time and use what awesome WordPress community has already created before you.

Hope you enjoyed checking out these articles, but what else is there?

More than 100 various videos, interviews and tutorials available on 1WD Youtube channel!

More than 100 various videos, interviews and tutorials available on 1WD Youtube channel!

Committing To Videos And Podcasts

In 2015 we heavily experimented with video and podcast content to understand if you enjoy it and maybe even prefer video over text. Remember #EspressoMonday? :)

Here are top 3 most popular videos, you can watch:

  • Create a Responsive Website Using HTML5 and CSS3 – this video, created by guest writer Christian Vasile 2 years ago, has turned out to be the most popular video we have created so far. Video has reached almost 1,2 million views.
  • How Do You Really Get Web Design Clients? – #EspressoMonday Ep.7, where James shares his best tips on finding clients.
  • How Much Does It Cost To Build A Professional Website Design in 2015? – many people don’t know how much to charge to their clients, James gives an awesome answer to clear all the confusion.

If you missed it, 1stWebDesigner is also on iTunes with 25 podcasts already available, where James interviews smart and successful people. You can easily pick their brain and learn why they are one of the best in their field.

There are interviews with people like Brian Hoff, Paul Jarvis, Paul Ryan, Brent Weaver, Chris Coyier, Jairek Robbins and more.

Oh, if you are not on iTunes, still the most interviews are available on 1stWebDesigner Youtube channel.

Right now we have stopped a bit with these efforts (restarting in 2016), because we truly wanted to review what worked and..what didn’t work. We want to invest time in creating type of videos, that are valuable to you.

1stWebDesigner Moves Focus To WordPress

Okay, so this is a biggie. Let’s face the elephant in the room.

Since the creation of 1stWebDesigner we have been writing about random web design topics and while it seemed to work years ago, it’s not where we want to go. Our goal is that you start coming to 1stWebDesigner, because you know that’s where you’ll find the best non-technical tips to improve your WordPress website.  So whenever, you have a WordPress related challenge or need the best trusted themes, plugins – the first place you would want to visit would be 1stWebDesigner.

We won't be afraid to give up good to go for the great.

We won’t be afraid to give up good to go for the great.

Previously we tried to be a place where you learn web design, a place where you learn how to become a freelance web designer. But web industry is moving to less and less coding – you can satisfy most client needs quickly, by using website builder like WordPress. I say website builder, even if WordPress is CMS. Right now, themes have become so powerful, that they are used as page builders.

We recognize this. There are basically two paths you can take as a web designer – you become a hardcore programmer or you become a hacker.

I am not saying one or another way is better. But for us hacking things together has always been closer path. But for hardcore programmers, or ones who want to become such, there are far better places to learn those skills:

  • Team Treehouse – learn Ruby on Rails, how to build an app and far more.
  • CSS-Tricks –  our friend Chris Coyier is an awesome guy to learn from how to build modern websites
  • Tympanus Codrops – if you wan to learn awesome animation and cool-looking jQuery, HTML5 effects (like this), Codrops is the best place to learn.

In fact, Codrops just published their yearly review article, collecting all the best resources and tutorials they published in 2015. Why not give them a try?

A Look Back at 2015: Round-up of Codrops Resources .

A Look Back at 2015: Round-up of Codrops Resources .

So What Exactly, 1WD Will Be Focusing On?

In short we will be focusing on WordPress tips for entrepreneurs, business owners.

This will be very valuable for you as a web designer, because you will not be selling your coding skills anymore. You will be selling the results you deliver to your clients. You will create, not only beautiful, but also converting WordPress websites, that bring visible results.

This is our motto as well.

This is our motto as well.

For example, we’ll help you to find and build:

  • the fastest WordPress themes, that improve user experience and conversion because of fast loading speed
  • amazing WordPress plugins, that deliver specific functionality like adding security, loading speed, shopping cart, membership website
  • common WordPress mistakes, that can be solved by few clicks in WordPress admin or simple WordPress plugin

We bet on WordPress, because we love the direction Matt Mullenweg is leading WordPress to. Watch this video to clarify.

Public stats, WordPress has decided to share.

Public stats WordPress has decided to share.

Just two years ago WordPress was used by 20% of the web. Right now WordPress powers 25.5% of the web. It’s still growing quickly, and there are no signs of stopping. If you want more impressive numbers behind WordPress growth and influence, read this WPMU article.

[tip] Did you know WordPress is used by 30.3% of the top 1000 websites and that in October, 2015 29.7% of all new sites are using WordPress?[/tip]

We love and have used WordPress in all our projects for past 8 years, why not focus on it? It is important to always do the work you love and it will reflect in outcome.

It's important to do the work you love and are passionate about.

It’s important to do the work you love and are passionate about. (If you like these quotes, we have more here).

Reviewing Premium WordPress Products

Everyone who is professionally involved in this industry or for that matter any other industry must have the business growth mindset which basically translates into: “In order to earn I have to spend.”

Every successful person will tell you that in order to grow their business and earn, they also had to spend money. They had to invest either in their education, tools, solutions, contacts or assets.

There are times, when you can find awesome free WordPress tools, and whenever we will find them, we will let you know. However we will be also focusing on finding the best tools there are in the market, test them and uncover their pros and cons.

There are over 40,000 free WordPress plugins and so many premium ones - how to know which ones to trust?

There are over 40,000 free WordPress plugins and so many premium ones – how to know which ones to trust?

Also our goal is to ensure that we find out what tools other WordPress experts and business owners use, so we always keep you in loop about handy simple techniques and time-saving tools. We want 1stWebDesigner to become source, where you find in-depth, unbiased reviews on some top themes, plugins, WordPress related services in the market.

Hope you are as excited as we are!

1stWebDesigner in 2016: What Can You Expect

We will start this year by cleaning our past articles, right now there are 1200 of them. Many of these articles are outdated, so we will either update or delete them, to have between 200-300 awesome articles in the end.

We won’t be deleting previous font roundups, logo design or coding tutorials, but we won’t be creating any new articles on these topics. Over the next 3 months, 1stWebDesigner should be clear from clutter and ready for full focus on WordPress.

Don’t be confused when seeing new non-WordPress articles popping up as recently published. It will just mean, that we have republished this article, we took from archives. These articles will be old top performing posts, that we have updated, rewritten or merged together from 5-10 average articles.

This is how clean and fast 1stWebDesigner website will feel like :)

This is how clean and fast website should look like.

But after we are done with cleanup works – we will put full focus on WordPress. When we are done in March, 2016 – 1stWebDesigner will be faster, cleaner and filled with ONLY top quality content.

[tip]On this note, if you would like to help us, we need some additional help to get this done sooner. If you are from Europe and looking for contract type of work to help us with cleanup works, please email us to hello at 1stwebdesigner dot com.[/tip]

Rethinking Email Strategy

Over years we have been collecting emails with a promise to keep you updated about web design news, trends and top level content we publish at 1stWebDesigner. In 2016 we want to serve you even better. For that reason, we will be switching from Mailchimp to ConvertKit to ensure better experience for you.

With ConvertKit we will be able to see what kind of content emails you most engage with. Based on this information, we will be able to personalize the emails we send to you. For example if you are a business owner, you will be much more interested in interviews with other successful business people, compared to a list of premium themes.

With ConvertKit we will be able also to create an awesome targeted autoresponder series, where every few days you will receive actionable tips on how to improve your WordPress website. We spend the time to research, all you need to do is spend a few minutes to review that advice and decide if that’s applicable to your work.

Making a decision to move to ConvertKit.

Making a decision to move to ConvertKit.

Sounds cool?

Alright, since we don’t want to email anybody, who doesn’t want to receive anything from us, we will be asking everybody who wants to join the list, join here. If you don’t resubscribe during the next 2 weeks, you will not be receiving anything from us anymore.

I really do hope you decide to stay or join us. Here is the signup box:


What are your thoughts? Suggestions for 1stWebDesigner?

We would love to hear from you – what do you think about direction we are taking? What are some articles you would love to read on 1stWebDesigner about WordPress?

Do you think we are going completely wrong about this or maybe you are excited about the changes?

P.S. If you have been 1WD reader over past years, would love to read how 1WD efforts have helped you? What were the most valuable things you learned from 1WD? Did you have a bad experience along the way? – help us solve it. We are listening!

Truly yours,

James & Dainis, founders of 1stWebDesigner

Editorial Team

Written by Editorial Team


  1. Looking forward to your WordPress tips and especially your goal for 100/100 pagespeed. Happy 2016 to you too!!


    1. Thanks David. We’re buzzing from excitement! :)


  2. Wow I’m glad to hear this. Frankly I’m a newbie in web design area, I’m a graphic designer before.I’m thinking to rebrand my website recently,but I can’t coding. So I just think about use wordpress. This coming the right time for me!!
    Looking forward!



    1. Dainis Graveris January 17, 2016 at 16:18

      Awesome Nikiyo! :) Lets hack things in 2016! :)


  3. Like Always, You guys are again awesome!
    You did the best work by communicating your shift from web design only to wordpress focused future posts.
    Cheers! and All the best for the future. :)


    1. Dainis Graveris January 17, 2016 at 16:21

      Thanks for support :)


  4. Hi guys,
    Can I just say what a great help you’ve been, I’m not a web designer by any means but am very keen to learn, I taught myself how to use WordPress to create my personal website but without help from guys like yourselves I probably would have given up a long time ago …. hope the future is bright and have a great 2016.
    Look forward to seeing and following your success …


    1. Dainis Graveris January 10, 2016 at 10:31

      Thanks Andy! :) Let’s keep going! :)


  5. This is great! I would really like to see more out there on theme development, plugin development, JavaScript as it relates to WP, making the admin as user friendly as possible for clients, and every possible customization option!


  6. Hi

    I just stumbled on to your site by doing a search for PSD to HTML. I enjoyed checking out Mike’s tutorial. I have to admit I’m a little saddened to read you’re moving away from design and more into hacking WP.

    Of course, for whatever my two cents is worth, I do wish you all the best… but! I may be in the minority, I’m a developer with almost 20 years coding the backend (I spend my days with PHP, git, SQL vs NoSQL, fullstack frameworks, and weeding through every emerging js stack under the sun… looking at you meteorjs).

    I’m looking for excellent guides for frontend UI design. Nirvana for me is rolling my own app — backend meets frontend.

    Granted I’m not a designer, but broadly speaking it seems great design’s gotten harder (to really standout from the bootstrap effect) while coding’s gotten easier. With something like mongo, nodejs and angularjs (open sourced and backed by Google), people are are producing serious enterprise quality apps with minimal formal training.

    Most design tuts kinda leave you at basic and rarely touch on the full workflow of wireframe, high fidelity PSD to full implemented HTML/CSS. I’m struggling to find the UI equivalent of what’s become popular with coding bootcamps; a place to develop the kinda UI chops to produce sites that could stand up to scrutiny from the likes of

    Recommendations highly appreciated. And again, best of luck on your new direction!


  7. Hi Dainis,

    I am a regular visitor to 1stwebdesigner for the past 6 years, I enjoyed reading all your simplified technical posts and lot of motivational posts, a mixture of everything which I loved. As being with you these years I read your ups and downs which made me to learn something from your experiences. I hope you took the right direction as we do less coding nowadays and started migrating to wordpress as I do 80% of work on wordpress nowadays. As always I keep 1stwebdesigner on one of my browser tab as a reference, I am sure you guys will provide a quality content for us.

    Please archive your old posts on a sub domain instead of deleting, those are quality contents. I never want to lose those.

    I am subscribing again for convertkit.

    Happy New Year to you guys!!!



    1. Dainis Graveris January 8, 2016 at 00:59

      Wow, thank you Senthil. One more confidence boost from you – love it! :) Oh, and if you are subscribing to ConvertKit, make sure you reply the first question, to help with ideas what kind of content..what kind of challenges you would like 1WD to help solve for you!

      Don’t worry about old posts – we won’t be deleting anything that’s still good and valuable. But definitely you won’t miss article from 2010 with inspirational websites.. It should be retitled now – what to avoid..or horrible website designs from 2010 :D

      Happy new year, Senthil! See you on the other side!


  8. At first I stucked up when I saw a long long paragraph but after reading few paragraphs I wuld like to tell you thanks for this great content.

    For mentioning the WordPress, I would like to tell you that I am a blogger of my own site which is build in WordPress. And as a wordpress developer I will always look for articles and resources that will help me.

    Greatly excited for more in depth look at wordpress in the coming 2016.

    Sourav Basak [Blogger, Entrepreneur, Thinker]


    1. Dainis Graveris January 8, 2016 at 01:01

      Hey Sourav, thank you for kind words!

      Glad you are excited about WordPress focus and I am glad to hear you are a blogger as well as WordPress developer and business owner – you are definitely the type of guy, who would appreciate quick, actionable WordPress tips and hacks!! :)


      1. Thank you Dainis. I am mostly proud of you. I look forward for you next articles.


  9. Hi Dainis,

    I’ve been a subscriber for many years and love the direction you guys are headed. I’m a self taught WordPress ‘hacker’ web developer and always cringed at the thought of learning more code than necessary to complete a project. I very happy that the web development space has evolved in the direction of high performing WordPress themes, page builders, and plugins and away from technical coding. As with all industry evolutions, businesses and entrepreneurs must evolve to remain a part of the game. Thanks and I’m looking forward to the quality WordPress content that you and your team will be sharing in 2016!


    1. Dainis Graveris January 7, 2016 at 01:52

      Awesome, thank you Robin! Sounds like 1WD will be great fit for you in coming year! :) Glad to hear from long-time reader, appreciate it :)


  10. I love the redirection to wordpress. As a wordpress specialist I’m always looking for articles and resources to help me. With the variety of articles I have read and loved from 1stWebDesigner I am truly excited for more in depth look at wordpress. 2016 is going to be a great year :-)


    1. Dainis Graveris January 5, 2016 at 03:39

      Thank you Previsha! :) Glad to hear from you, appreciate your support! :) 2016 is going to be a great year!!! Truly!


  11. First, thanks for all your great content. I have worked with WordPress since 2008 and I think you are heading the right way by focusing on hacking instead of coding etc. Often WordPress’ers have a hard time accepting things are changing – they find it hard to accept that their clients actually can work with WordPress themselves. I see my role more and more turning towards finding “the right parts” for the clients projects, they need help in the jungle of opportunities.

    Having said that, I am a little tearfull (ok, not really – but a little sad) since 1WD were the place to find the articles on UI, trends and web design in generel – I will miss that. But still looking forward to a lot of WP-inspiration from you :-D


    1. Dainis Graveris January 5, 2016 at 03:37

      Hey Bolette, thank you for kind words! True..true about clients, and also you can help them on much higher levels, if you understand how conversions work, how to optimize their website to complete their business goals with some simple tricks. Well, then let’s see how 1WD can slowly start fulfilling that part – to help in the WordPress jungle :)

      Yeah, I get you – nobody is more nostalgic than I am, it’s been 8 long years. But general web design really isn’t as interesting for us anymore, and it’s not full-filling our business goals. Sites who write about general web design, usually make money with banner ads, and that’s something we have been trying for years to get away from.

      WP-Inspiration will be coming your way…real soon :)


  12. Darshan Gajara January 5, 2016 at 02:31

    Whoa! That’s so well organized year planning.


    1. Dainis Graveris January 5, 2016 at 03:48

      Thanks Darshan, well, for sure we know what we are going to do for first six months.. not the whole year :) But what’s get’s planned, get’s done. Just need to stick to it, how do you feel about changes?

      And what are your 2016 plans?


      1. Darshan Gajara January 5, 2016 at 05:28

        Well said, Dainis. I’m assured that I’ll be receiving awesome emails from your side. My blog plans for 2016 are to generate actual engagement & user base. And hence, the revenue.


  13. Hmmmm. Im a noob at web design but I think I love the re-direction and the fact that 1stwebdesigner will also be known for just one thing. WORDPRESS!

    I am presently learning javascript and want to go into wordpress immediately so I think there will be lots to learn from 1stwebdesigner this year.

    I think I actually learnt something from this post i.e You can get REALLY GOOD at just ONE THING, spread your tentacles on it and go as far as possible into it and let people know you for just that ONE THING. Its sure you wont have a problem because everyone knows YOU ARE JUST the BEST and REALLY GOOD at that “ONE THING”. I think I will take that into consideration in my journey to becoming a webdesigner.

    keep up the good work 1stwebdesigner. My only fear is the numerous old 1stwebdesigner posts I really love and bookmarked. I really hope those articles and tutorials gets to stay. If not, Its gonna be a really bad one as I REALLY LOVE those articles I have bookmarked.

    Anyways, 1stwebdesigner has never been a disappointment and I dont think It’s gonna start now. Well done guys


    1. James Richman January 4, 2016 at 18:36

      Hey Michael,

      It’s really great to hear such positive thoughts from you :)
      This in fact is what keeps our whole team moving forward – comments like yours.
      Yes, you are right there’s some magic in niching down to make sure that every piece of content created matches the readers (i.e. your) current needs.

      Your bookmarked content
      The content you have bookmarked will never just leave you on a blank 404 page. Whatever gets “deleted” is actually merged with other more valuable articles or even redirected to an article that’s still around the same topic but more up to date. I hope that helps :). Feel free to always shoot me an email if anything (james [at] 1stwebdesigner [dot] com)

      Well done you!
      Because the fact that you are learning javascript is just spot on with WordPress’ direction, since they just joined the Javascript age and because of that Matt Mullenweg (the guy behind WP) has one homework for you!

      Thanks once again Michael! :)


  14. What if you bought a course? Will the course still be available to view?


    1. Dainis Graveris January 4, 2016 at 18:09

      Shella, of course, all the existing premium content stays in place, of course. But we won’t be actively updating them anymore. Right now we will be focusing on public cleanup..and hopefully by end of year we will crystallize what else it is you would like :)


  15. Love the re-direction guys! Thanks for providing this awesome resource and community over the years. As a heavy wordpress user, I’m super excited about 2016’s content! Cheers


    1. Dainis Graveris January 4, 2016 at 17:32

      Thanks Steve so much for your support! :) Glad to hear it!! :) It’s gonna be awesome! :)


  16. Hi,
    thanks a lot! Will the old articles be available in the future?


    1. Dainis Graveris January 4, 2016 at 16:34

      Hey Ai, what we will be doing is merging them..and basically deleting old posts than nobody visits. For good posts that still all visited – we’ll update them so you get fresh content. We’ll just delete everything that’s outdated and not good enough quality.


  17. This website was one of the very few that wrote decent web design articles. There’s already 1000’s of WordPress focused sites, that pretty much all write the same thing, so I find this to be a very unfortunate thing.I really do think you should leave all previous articles where they are, or archive them on a sub-domain if you don’t want them here. There’s many articles in my bookmarks, and am sure there are in other people’s as well. I don’t thing I’ll be subscribing to the new list but thanks for covering so many useful topics in the past.


    1. Dainis Graveris January 4, 2016 at 16:38

      Hey Oli, we won’t be removing any articles from 2015 which are still good,just there are so many posts that are outdated. And you are right there are 1000’s of WP focused sites, the same as there are even more general Web Design sites.

      We won’t be creating what others are doing – we will create awesome posts. Few ideas I really want to explore is to challenge 1WD to achieve 100/100 in google pagespeed. and then write massive thorough post how to make your wordpress website super fast. Don’t really know about super guides like that. You’ll like it eventually :) And don’t worry, decent articles will stay..just there are 900 posts that are visited maybe 10-100 times a month and that’s just not good enough. We won’t have crappy content on 1WD, that’s the point.

      Appreciate your feedback, Oli and kind comment :)


  18. Dainis Graveris January 4, 2016 at 14:37

    Oh and personal note – please if you have any bad experience or confusion after subscribing to our new mailing list, please tell me. Just hit reply on the email or post it here, we have truly high hopes of personalisation in emails using ConvertKit :)


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