Why I decided to start treating my website as a separate productPublished on 14 July 2021
Today marks the official redesign and relaunch of my website of 5 years. Or was it more than 5? Probably more, but you know how it is with first versions of things: they're usually clunky, abhorrent messes that don't deserve to exist for any reason other than you going "look, I know HTML now!".
Skip to an eternity later, and me "rm-rf'ing" my old website without looking back. Don't get me wrong, I loved my previous site. It was my first Website of the Day award on "CSS Design Awards" and a much-needed pat on the back. It motivated me to keep this whole web development thing up.
But while I moved on, jumping through the hoops of my career path, the website itself remained static and became outdated rather quickly. It was still visual & graphic-design-driven while I had transitioned to product and web development.
Last but not least, it wasn't representative of my circles of interest, which include software, creative writing, UI design, electronic music.
My little portal had to transition from a simple portfolio into a content-driven, constantly updated platform that I could treat as a separate product.
Suffice to say, things had to start changing.
A website is like a window to the outside world for a business or a professional. It's literally a showcase. Clothing stores have visual pros working day and night on their storefronts, deciding what clothes to put where and what brands to feature (or sell the spots to). I would know, I spent more than two years of my life working for one. In the same vein, my little portal had to transition from a simple portfolio into a content-driven, constantly updated platform that I could treat as a separate product.
To achieve the above, some glitches in the Matrix had to occur, and the main ones in my book were these three:
No more client case studies (for now)
Sure, case studies rock if you're a designer or an agency with a constant stream of clients and case studies to show to the outside world. But while I had started as a designer and had a couple of case studies I was proud of, these all but vanished when I started working in the Parisian startup world. Having old case studies hanging there for years on end made no sense anymore - they made the pages feel stale, heavy, static.
Like old clothes in a closet, stuff that keeps piling up throughout the years and we keep holding onto needs to go, at one point or another. Treat it like editors treat the film they're given - cut the fat, let it drop to the editing floor, never to be seen again.
Publishing creative pieces of writing
"Creative pieces of writing" is me avoiding the word "content" at all costs. But that's where it's at, I hear you say, isn't it? Content is King, tats of Gary Vaynerchuk's face all over your chest, influencing and thought-leading.
Well, kind of. It certainly comes with the territory and the experience.
The territory: you're on the web, so having a static swamp for a site that's never updated doesn't make much sense.
The experience: you're a professional working in whatever industry eats 10 hours of your precious time per day, and some of that experience might be interesting to write about.
So write. But don't write for the magic word "content". Write because you want to.
As far as I'm concerned, writing extends beyond that: it has always been my release, my favorite pastime, and activity. It's the thing I see myself doing when nothing else works. Launching a blog alongside my new website seemed like a no-brainer. I'm still finding my vibe, my niche, but for now, starting out with content (ah, see? It snuck in) centered around technology and my day-to-day and publishing at least one piece of writing a week is a good enough start, with more in the works.
Freedom to explore, test, and release
If you've worked in a startup, you know that "release, and release often" is like a mantra for tech teams. And there are good reasons for that.
Frequent releases mean: you move fast.
Frequent releases mean: more bug fixes and features make it into the hands of your clients.
Frequent releases mean: you're allowed to make mistakes, explore, and roll back whatever's not working.
Frequent releases mean: you're not static. You're moving.
Don't write for the magic word "content". Write because you want to.
This site will keep evolving and changing as I explore what's possible and what I'd like to do with it. Of course, I'll settle on a singular approach to its branding and design, but it will serve to inform and enrich the rest of the experience rather than be its focus.
In the end, every change is a good thing. It allows you to unsettle your life, declutter your mind, and what's a website if not a piece of your everyday existence which merits that kind of treatment?
As things stand, I'm pretty happy with the initial result and where things are headed. I've been thinking about doing the same to my Instagram account: bulldoze everything and reorient it while I still have a following (I haven't posted on Instagram in a long while - lost interest).
But everything in its time. For now - welcome to my new website.
~ Fin ~