Blueprint CSS Framework
Norwegian tech student Olav Frihagen Bjørkøy created an exceptionally useful CSS framework called Blueprint that quickly became a huge sensation in the web design world.
The secret to the success of Blueprint is that it adroitly addresses a pain point that many web designers experience: The process of setting up page layouts and the extensive cross-browser testing that ensues can be tedious. Although many helpful articles and tools already exist to assist web designers with their work, nothing actually unites theory and practice in a practical fashion. Olav’s Blueprint was the solution that many designers had been seeking, and word of it spread like wildfire.
When Blueprint was released, well-known web designers such as Khoi Vinh, Jeff Croft, and Mark Boulton wrote posts on their blogs that broadcast word of Olav’s project to thousands of web designers. Hundreds of blog posts from web designers all over the world followed, singing Blueprint’s praises and providing inbound links to Olav’s site.
Within the first week of the release of his project, Olav saw a giant traffic spike and a number of new subscriptions to his blog’s RSS feed: "My blog went from about 300 visitors a day to just over 20,000 each day during the following week. The number of people subscribing to my feed went up from about 200 to 3,000."
In about three weeks, Blueprint had been downloaded more than 25,000 times. By watching the number of bookmarks stored at del.icio.us, a popular social bookmarking site, Olav was able to further gauge the success of the project: "I also like to count how many people bookmark my articles at http://del.icio.us/, as I think that gives a good clue of how many people actually plan on using this in the future. [The current number of individual bookmarks is] closing in on 6,000."
Blueprint was not a marketing initiative. As Olav describes it himself in his 2007 interview with Khoi Vinh, "Blueprint is an unknown, untested, and unused framework from an unknown guy launched from a highly irregular blog. This should make it quite clear that the craving for a proper designer’s framework almost couldn’t be greater."
Although part of the success of Blueprint can be attributed to the timing of its release, ultimately it was Olav’s desire to share with his community that made Blueprint the phenomenon that it is. By publishing a useful solution to a common problem, Olav generated throngs of visits to his website. According to Google, his site now has 22,500 inbound links.
Blueprint is an amazing example of a good deed returning huge findability benefits.