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The 10 Biggest Brands in Design Blogs (Part 2)

There’s been an explosion of resource, recruitment and tutorial sites, in Part 2 we continue our review of the biggest and the best of them, analyze their brands and make suggestions for their growth. Make sure you read Part 1 before continuing.

05. PSD Tuts (Tie)

Founder(s) – Unknown
History – PSDTUTS is a blog/photoshop site made to house and showcase some of the best Photoshop tutorials around. We publish tutorials that not only produce great graphics and effects, but explain in a friendly, approachable manner.
About the Brand – A strong thematic cohesiveness throughout their family of websites.
Alexa.com Ranking – 14,664
Other Propertiesaudiojungle.com, flashden.com
Ideas for Growth – Their team has successfully created a design and tutorial blog, the audio search engine and a monetized flash resource site. They should take the business model they used for Flashden.net and apply it to resources for AfterEffects or Premier. Alternatively they could create a portal for scripts like Hotscripts.com

05. Colour Lovers (Tie)

Founder(s) – Darius A Monsef IV
History – The founder says, “Our site is edgy, revolutionary, and works from the bottom up, not from the top down. It represents a new way to think about color and design. Our approach is based on the open source and common license concept. We gather creative professionals into an online community where they can share ideas about color and influence others.”
About the Brand – ColourLovers relies primarily on user generated content. It takes images uploaded to it’s service and parses those images for color data. Users can then share patterns, color palettes and monitor color trends of popular magazines. The brand is the application and the focus (color). The logo is basic and unforgettable otherwise. The ‘proper’ english “u” in Colour could be also be considered part of it’s branding because it’s distinct.
Alexa.com Ranking – 14,438
Other PropertiesColourlovers Store that sells t-shirts, NoteCards, MiniCards & Stickers
Ideas for Growth – Darius built a social network around one of the elusive aspects of design, color. He also made a useful resource for designers trying to come up with color schemes for their websites. He might try doing the same thing for fonts or extend his cadre of color enthusiasts into a network of fashion or product designers.

04. Brusheezy

Founder(s) – Unknown
History – Brusheezy is a website where you can find yourself alot of high quality Photoshop Brushes and Patterns too, there is also a resource section that points out books and other resources that are good for learning and enhancing the Photoshop Package itself. All Brushes should work on all versions of Photoshop unless otherwise stated.
About the Brand – The ‘eeZy’ brand is strong because it’s so unique, fun and recognizable. The slogan “Stupid name. Good ________” is equally memorable. All the sites in their network feature similar logos and similar designs which is smart. Unfortunately the owners don’t seem to understand branding web products, as it’s not always easy to get from one site to another without know what you’re looking for in advance.
Alexa.com Ranking – 9,293
Other Propertiesvecteey.com, flasheezy.com, and fresheezy.com
Ideas for Growth – All of these offerings essentially occur in walled gardens. The Eezy Group may want to do the obvious and consider building a social network around their content. The apparent partnership with GoMedia is smart. If the owners of the Eezy brand are also the owners of GoMedia or partners in the company, they’ve got the right idea. They use free content to sell premium content. If I were them I’d work on building a cohesive brand for both divisions and expanding my offerings from just content for design programs to plug-ins and upgrades.

03. Smashing Magazine

Founder(s) – Smashing Magazine is maintained by Sven Lennartz, the owner of the Dr. Web Magazine and Dr. Web Weblog and Vitaly Friedman, the creator of The Web Developer’s Handbook and the book author of Praxisbuch Web 2.0.
History – Founded in September 2006, Smashing Magazine delivers useful and innovative information for designers and web-developers.
About the Brand – Smashing Magazine is one of my favorite places on the internet. They offer great tutorials, articles, resources and information related to graphic design, web design, and typography. Their logo (a tilted “S” in a square) is strong, easily recognizable and memorable.
Alexa.com Ranking – 8,524
Other Properties – jobs.smashingmagazine.com
Ideas for Growth – Smashing already covers design and design resources better than almost any blog out there. The next obvious step is to try a printed publication along the likes of ComputerArt, Photoshop User or Layers Magazine. Or, perhaps, they might try similar product devoted to cinematography and filmmaking.

02. Mashable

Founder(s) – Pete Cashmore
History – Mashable is a social networking news blog. With allegedly over 5 million monthly pageviews it ranks among the most popular blogs on the Internet. Mashable regularly writes about MySpace, YouTube, Bebo, Facebook, and Xanga, but it also reports on less high-profile social networking sites. The website also features its own social network, customized profiles, and MySpace layouts.
About the Brand – While Mashable has done very little to expand beyond it’s current offerings the name is probably one of the most easily recognizable on the web. Thanks to appearing in Mashable vidcasts, founder Pete Cashmore, has become something of a ‘web celebrity’. Partnerships with companies like Aux Interactive and ACS SEO make Mashable a great resource for companies looking to develop their ideas.
Alexa.com Ranking – 3,490
Other Properties – Mashmeets and Events, Mashcodes, fr.mashable.com, my.mashable.com
Ideas for Growth – Mashable is all over the place offering free software products, a thriving social network, design resources, social media news, industry information and a whole lot more. It seems that much like the Carsonified people, Mashable is targeting the event planning and tradeshow world next. What’s next? Mashable’s social network places an emphasis on user content and social links. I think they “get it” enough that they’ll target creating more social media applications.

01. Sitepoint

Founder(s) – Matt Mickiewicz and Mark Harbottle
History – SitePoint is a fast growing online media company and information provider targeting the Web professional market, specifically Web Developers and Designers. The company has five major revenue streams: advertising and sponsorship, content-based products both online and in retail, software, and more recently streaming video subscriptions and classified listings.
About the Brand – As you can see from their Alexa.com rating, Sitepoint is in the upper-echelon of heavily trafficked sites on the internet. Pulling four digits on Alexa equal hundreds of thousands, if not millions of hits, daily! Of course traffic alone doesn’t equal a strong brand. Sitepoint.com has created their brand by offering an easily identifiable site good advice, great tutorials and tips that range in topics from development, to operating a small business to design tips.

Their ‘Marketplace’ (think Craigslist for web developers) is one of THE most popular places for people to list jobs and recruit talent (for both longterm and shortterm projects). It’s also the #1 place to buy and sell web property. Their Marketing Kits (otherwise known as e-books) benefit users as well as generating some healthy revenue. Beyond that they’ve extended their brand offline with a strong publishing division. They recently spun off their marketplace for designers into it’s own site 99Designs, brilliantly giving it a slightly different look so as to appeal to creatives.

It’s one of those companies that pretty much does everything well to the point where each of their products are healthy competition individually as it they are combined. For that Sitepoint.com is given the undisputed crown!
Alexa.com Ranking – 1,817
Other Properties99designs.com, Sitepoint Publishing, Reference Point
Ideas for Growth – I can only dream of being in a position where I can make the decisions that move a site like sitepoint.com! Still there is one frontier that I think SiePoint is already well poised to exploit…. software development. If they could spin their huge userbase into a market for a web software product they’d be a HUGE problem. More likely though, they’ll next take their brands to the mobile market offering ebook downloads and streaming media.

2010-05-19T22:34:27+00:00 May 28th, 2008|Content and Blogging, General, Photoshop|8 Comments

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  1. Andrei May 29, 2008 at 9:58 AM

    99Designs?!?!?! How can you place that sh*thole near the top? Sitepoint is a programmer’s paradise, NOT a designer’s. 99Designs is one of the worst poisons of the design industry, and it’s at number 01???????!!!!

    If you are indeed a designer, I truly wonder how much Sitepoint paid you for you to sell your soul to their propaganda.

  2. milo May 29, 2008 at 12:11 PM

    Only two of them are not plastered with advertising =(
    Although AdBlock in use I get sick of that manerism.

  3. JonGos May 29, 2008 at 1:39 PM

    Andrei, you seem to have some hostility issues. lol As I mentioned in Part 1 I tried to make the list as unbiased as possible by considering how influential a site was, how much ‘industry influence’ they have, and how much they offer the designer and development community. Like it or not, Sitepoint’s 99 Designs pays the bills for a lot of designers and hundreds of companies are turning to it for design. Beyond that it’s one of the most highly trafficked places on the web. That equals influence, love it or hate it. Also, Sitepoint.com made #1 99 Designs is just one of it’s properties.

  4. JonGos May 29, 2008 at 1:42 PM

    @ milo – Yeah, I hate that too but that’s what makes these sites lucrative for the owners. Minor annoyance for me.

  5. Lindsey May 30, 2008 at 3:38 PM

    I’m not sure how you missed A List Apart?

  6. JonGos May 30, 2008 at 4:17 PM

    @Lindsey – Good observation, me neither. I’ll credit that gaffe to blogging at three in the morning. =)

  7. Jeff Finley June 26, 2008 at 10:05 AM

    The list is pretty standard I’d say – a few surprises. I’m surprised with Mashable and Sitepoint – those being the less “design blogs” out of the bunch.

    Anyway, I am one of the owners of Go Media – as mentioned in the Brusheezy paragraph. We are not partners in eachother’s company – rather he’s a leading affiliate of our products. He’s simply advertising our stuff and his visitors are a prime audience for it. He’s our best affiliate hands down.

    And I wanted to mention that I feel our site should be on this list. Our blog at http://www.gomediazine.com is often linked to from sites like Bittbox and PSDtuts. And we are first and foremost a design studio that blogs and sells stock artwork on the side at the Arsenal. I’m currently redesigning the GoMediazine and it will be much better and more functional for our users. And will help bridge our 3 sites together more.

    I like your business insights for each site though. Very informative. I can learn something from your suggestions to those other sites. Thanks for the list!

  8. JonGos June 28, 2008 at 5:03 PM

    @Jeff I wasn’t familiar with gomediazine.com but now that I am, maybe you’ll be considered for the sequel ;)

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