There is a very good argument for designing your own website or web app if you are a budding developer … unless you’re a graphic designer.
Coding your own app or site gives you a good initiation into the complexities of managing files, components, functions etc., and bringing them together under a framework (which in itself will be another challenge to tackle). However, I decided not to design front-end.
In a previous professional incarnation I was a graphic designer. Although whether I was a good designer or not may be debatable, what I can confidently claim was tha I was a very efficient and adept designer. I knew my tools well and had developed systems of working that streamlined the processes and resulted in manageable amounts of corrections needed due to technical errors.
These are indispensible skills to have in any profession, but significantly valuable when doing work which not only depends on efficiency but also subjective design value. Any project which has a design element can only advance as fast as aesthetic decisions are made and committed-to. And therein lies the problem.
Regardless of how much graphic designers may complain about their clients petty demands, there is no worse client to any designer than a designer herself.
So I know that if I had opted to code and design this blog from the ground up, it would have never been completed and I would not have written this post, two days after I decide to create a blog. Figuratively speaking, any design is never finished for a designer, she will always find something that can be done better or differently. There is the very real possibility also that the blog may never be finished because the initial impetus and motivation will begin to wane under the pull of the slow development.
Every project has a goal. In deciding that I wanted my site to be primarily a blog, the goal became about having the platform to do that. And as every writer knows the shorter the distance between the thought and the deed, the more likely it is that it will happen.
Once I made the decision to have a blog, I spent one day reading the tutorial for using Jekyll to create a static site, and the next day choosing a template and reading its documentation. I chose Chirpy not only based on its aesthetics virtues (attractive, logical, simple) but also because it offers enough features to make it professional without being over-complicated and difficult to use.
If you find yourself debating whether saving yourself some pain by using someone else’s template is a cop-out or not, consider what your objective is. if you are trying to prove to someone else that you can code it (if you code it they will come), then you need to start typing quickly. But if on the other hand, another coder’s work will help you be more proactive and/or productive, then by all means be grateful and clone that repo.