The earliest blog post on this site dates from April 2001 and it started life as my personal blog. Ultimately it became the site from which I also promoted my books, speaking engagements and anything else I was doing as me, rather than as my business edgeomyseat.com.
Every so often I have attempted some sort of redesign here. I’m not a designer, and the best I really hoped for was that it wasn’t unbearably ugly. I would usually get part way through and deploy it, meaning to tidy up the edges at some point. A point that never came. Despite the fact that I wouldn’t dream of attempting to design any site relating to my business, for some reason letting go of this site – my site – was harder.
As I do more speaking, and have pieces of writing that I am really proud of scattered around the web I wanted to somehow link all of these things to my personal domain. I found myself writing emails to people and wanting to show some example of my writing, and needing to link to things in various locations. I wanted to be able to just send them to my site, one place where that information lives. I played around a few times with ideas, trying to pull together this stuff in a logical, non-ugly format, and failed.
I’m no designer but I wanted this to still feel like my site. I didn’t want to end up with something lovely, that fulfilled all the goals of a site for a speaker and writer, but that didn’t feel like it represented me.
However, my common sense business brain told me that I didn’t have time to mess about with web design when I neither enjoyed or was good at it, and that I needed to ask for help. For Perch we have worked with Laura Kalbag on a couple of projects, she created the design for our default templates and also the Swift Migrations demo site. I love the style of her work, and her friendly approach, and so asked her if she would be able to work on the design for this site.
Having made the decision to hand over control, I really enjoyed the process. I had shown Laura some 1930s styled elements that I liked the feel of and she brought this into the design without it seeming over the top. In terms of the main aim of bringing together all of the things I am doing, Laura developed the idea of the modules. These link to internal blog posts and external articles and podcasts. They are a really flexible way of describing things and made it very easy to implement using Perch. For example the podcasts and writing pages are regular Perch content and then I use perch_content_custom() on the homepage to display the latest items added.
Laura sent me the templates built as flat HTML and CSS files on Friday and it really says something about the quality of her work that I am able to get the redesign live today. In reality most of the time over the weekend was spent gathering links to content spread around the web. There is still a bit of content work to do, however I wanted to get this design live as having seen this I didn’t even want to look at my old site!
I’m really glad that I listened to my own common sense and let go of trying to play web designer on this site. I feel like I have something I can be happy to send people to, that meets the aims I have for this site, and it does still feel like it represents me!
A postscript to this story
Laura is far too young to ever remember the very early incarnations of this site, however when the first templates came through and I was clicking around, Drew looked over my shoulder and pointed out how they reminded him of some of my very early designs. I trawled back through archive.org and turned up this, and even this (I was a great fan of mystery meat). Those designs were from a time when I was essentially doing web design, and actually were designs that I did like. Perhaps the fact that I feel so at home with this design is partly because it does echo that distant past.