a personal website should capture that thing we’re all trying to avoid, as cheesy as it sounds: that we are a poem and not software.
That was from Robin Rendle’s post I am a poem I am not software. I loved it. Definitely give it a read if you’ve ever experienced the agony and the ecstasy of trying to represent yourself through your website (and if you’re someone reading anything on my site, I’d hazard a guess that you’ve been there).
I’ve made the “boring corporate handshake” personal website many times before. It’s the modern business card. Of course, no-one ever said they had to be boring… but as Robin eloquently points out, there are a lot of constraints and incentives pushing and pulling against each other here, and the ‘safe’ choices can win out.
Now, the design of jacklorusso.com is currently extremely normcore and minimalist and ‘safe’. So how is this not just another lame corpo installment?
I’d like to think that:
- this post right here, where I’m shooting from the hip and actually sharing my opinion on something I’ve read about building for the web
- the post before this where I share my album of the year
- the page where I track the books I’m reading (and out myself as a fantasy geek in the process)
- the post where I recommended you go and read Erin Kissane’s excellent yet harrowing deep dive into Meta’s role in the genocide of the Rohingya people
- sharing this side project that embraces the ‘nerd/jock venn diagram’ that is basically my vibe
… all are examples of me sharing different aspects of my opinions and personality, and speaking to more than one subject or audience. Honestly, they are all little personal milestones, as they’re things I may not have shared on previous iterations and conceptions of my personal site. It’s all just, me. Unfiltered.
Perhaps I’m getting better at embracing that idea that ‘I am a poem, I am not software’. I’m trying to, at least. But right now, on this site, I’m doing that through the content, not the design. And one of the only reasons I’ve successfuly created this content is because I’ve given myself the permission to write first, (re)design later.
Right from the very first post since I relaunched the site where I talked about my perfectionism, I’ve been wary of my tendency to focus too much on the razzle-dazzle; trying so hard to be a cool web designer that I don’t actually get the site off the ground, or once I do, I don’t spend enough time writing and sharing. I didn’t want to fall into the trap of never shipping, or making another website/blog that languishes after a couple of posts; I wanted to build this into a sustainable practice first, and let the site grow organically.
But I’m not really there yet when it comes to this front from Robin’s post:
I want weirder, more broken websites! I want the navigation to be wild and uncouth, I want a website to push me in the same way that any great artist’s work pushes me. I hate it when I land on a website and it feels like a SQL database has simply been inserted into a generic template.
Like I said, design wise it’s pretty normcore up in here :(
the more boring personal websites I see the more I want to skip the boring corporate handshake at the beginning. Because you’re more than a list of accomplishments, more than a career, more than a Wordpress template, or SQL query, more than one subject for a narrow audience.
I do feel like the write first, (re)design later approach has set me free and allowed me to capture some of the spirit discussed in Robin’s piece, and build a more sustainable writing/building practice. But there’s certainly a lot more room for weirdo web design vibes…
So is it “later” now?