Blog: Thoughts and Ideas

Websites are hard

Published on: 2024-01-05
Updated on: 2024-01-20
Just because you can use a browser doesn't mean you understand how web pages or "the internet" work. It's complicated.

Following Through

Ideas are a dime a dozen

There's a quote about how it's easy to think up an idea, but it's hard to do something real. Mary Kay Ash is the oldest source for the quote, in the format "ideas are a dime a dozen".

Around 2000, a guy I knew wanted me to work for a company he was going to start. His idea? Create documents that were locked and you'd need a password to unlock them. Publish books with it, he said. Magazines...but online.

Two problems: (a) Adobe already existed and (b) you still have to distribute these things to people and he had no plan for that.

To be fair, he had no experience in tech at all, so he had no idea how much work was needed to turn his idea into reality.

Recently, President Obama sat with LinkedIn for an interview about career advice and the snippet that gets quoted and discussed most is that he could find tons of people who could describe a problem or opportunity but only a few who could take action and change things.

And, for every influencer that exists, there are likely 1000s who want to be an influencer but aren't doing the work needed to move the needle.

Work is work. Ideas are ideas.

Driving the site forward

I lack a roadmap

Like I said in the first post of this site reboot, I should call my site "The Chalkboard" because I keep erasing it to restart.

What I've done is create a string of sites that perform amazingly well for the zero people who visit. Now, knowing I get scores of "100" across the board for Google Core Vitals is neat-o. But, it's also useless when nobody is visiting.

So to drive the site forward, and the hard part of turning the idea to reality, is to both (a) create a site using the stack I defined in the first post and also (b) write content that's useful in some way to some people.

The technology part is easer for me as I've been doing it for 25+ years. I've logged Malcolm Gladwell's mythical 10,000 hours, a few times over.

Writing prose? Well, I can write email for business reasons but it's not my area of expertise. I've worked with professional writers and what they do is as specialized as writing complex programs or scripts.

I've been tracking the number of changes I make to the site using technical tools that explain how many code changes are applied each day. I have NOT been tracking how much I'm writing here.

To drive things forward, I need to have a plan for both the technology AND the content that people will read or see.

The Editorial Calendar

Small Steps Add Up

I don't have an editorial calendar. In fact, I didn't even have a list of ideas for things I'd write. That's a problem.

This is going to be a short section, to be honest, as right now I'm learning how content marketing works from the writer's perspective.

I know my strengths and experiences. I've tried, in the past, to write about things that were of interest to me but I didn't know. I read the book Content, Inc. by Joe Pulizzi. It knocked me out of the aspirational mode, thinking I could easily write about something I wanted to know well and instead got me thinking about what I knew and how to pursue that more deeply.

What resonated most from the book, and that others might find useful, was the critical need to find the overlap between what I love and what I knew or could do well.

For me? Both of those are "the web". I have years of experience working on websites. I also love working on them enough that after I get home, I still have energy to work on my own site rather than my employers'.

So the content roadmap is very sketchy but I'm writing down ideas and starting articles that are based in what I know and love: creating the technology for BIG sites. Sites that reach billions of people a year....

The Technical Roadmap

Mostly done. Mostly...

The technology roadmap is the Next/Tailwind/Sanity/Cloudflare stack. This is a stack that lacks the integration out-of-the-box that you get with Wordpress self-hosted. It definitely isn't the freebie blogger-style service that you get with medium or or whatever.

If it's not obvious, the stack is working. (You wouldn't be reading this if I didn't have the technology working. Right?)

But there are tons of things to do beyond simply making this site work.

  1. I need to add and tune all the things search engines use to rank pages so that anything I write will appear in search results.
  2. If a person wants to share an article, I need the share links on the page to make it easy AND the pages also need the tools that social sites use to format the links and make them look good.
  3. The site needs to be fast. That's easy at first but as more things are added, speed usually suffers.
  4. It needs to be secure, so that visitors aren't at risk of malicious scripts or redirects to seedy websites.
  5. If I do anything to make money here, like use affiliate links or ads, I have to ensure I have all the appropriate privacy banners and related tech in place to comply with all the laws...

And there's more. Styling the site, alone, could be a full time task. Many things that are "smaller" issues are getting jammed into a queue but won't be fixed soon. (Code blocks, to illustrate programming languages, is a good example. They work on the site, but they look terrible so I won't be using much until I fix that.)

A One Man Band

Reasonable Expectations

When you see a one-man band on the street, it's a bit of a spectacle. It's engaging because the person is playing multiple instruments, often by using their whole body in ways that are as much "dance" as "playing music".

What you don't expect is music of the same quality as from an orchestra.

That spectacle that works for the one-man band does NOT work for one-person website creators. Nobody sees the effort I put into this (or the efforts of thousands of others doing similar things).

So this, really, is for me. And the standard I'm chasing is one set by teams of people doing similar work.

To the people who got to this point and read this whole article: thank you.

And to the people who are trying to do something similar, solo: for me, it's been worth it even if the only people who see this are you and me. :)