i made this website because i like coding and i wanted “my own” place to put the songs and stuff i was doing. at the time it was almost only songs. i wrote it in raw HTML and had never made a website before, so there was not much thought behind the decisions (except “does it look nice”).
since then i have learned how to make a website and also learned the actual benefits of having a website. this means my development is now guided by some actual principles. these are the principles:
by accessibility i mainly mean that the site can be used on whatever computing devices people read it on. in practice this is phones. so wherever possible, the mobile site should be just as functional and look just as nice as the desktop site. it should load just as quickly too, which is why i minimize the size of static files (like images and fonts) that i serve.
i still use a custom font because it makes the site look much nicer, and it doesn’t seem to impact page load times much. and i think i’ve done a good job at making the mobile layout functional, but the downside is that it constrains my use of horizontal space. i’m thinking of loosening this rule to make better use of that space on desktop.
accessibility also means using HTML tags how they were meant to be used so that screen readers can understand the layout. i basically do this. as well as some other things like using a reasonable font size and having reasonable contrast between text and background. some themes may violate this property but no one is forcing you to use them.
i don’t enforce these principles as strongly on my arcade, because it is much harder to accommodate them and i don’t think it’s that big a deal if someone can’t play my game.
avoiding link rot
link rot is when information that used to be accessible at a certain link becomes inaccessible. this happens for a few reasons:
- the site owner stopped paying server costs, so the site is no longer online.
- the site owner changed how URLs are structured, so the content is now found at a different link.
- the site owner got rid of the content because they didn’t care about it or wanted it gone.
as long as i care (i do) the only real issue would be collateral damage from changing the URL scheme. i think the way URLs are structured on this site makes a lot of sense, but some posts have URLs that are slightly longer than i would like. with those i can change the URL and just deal with the link rot, which isn’t a big deal right now because so few links to this site exist. but to avoid the link rot i can additionally make the old URL link to the new one. i think i will do this eventually, but it’s not a high priority. i would also consider making “permalinks” that are guaranteed to always redirect to the same content.
i’m not a company. i don’t make any money from my website and i don’t intend to. so it only really needs to be pleasant to use. aesthetics are a core part of that.
this is the reason every page is laid out so simply. there is more information that would probably be worthwhile to fit on the page, but it’s hard to fit everything in an elegant way. i don’t aspire to match the minimalism of many corporate designs, but i find elements like headers, footers, and sidebars typically detract from aesthetics. so i am still thinking of how to communicate all useful information while keeping the site beautiful.
i do appreciate aesthetics that are somewhat less elegant, which is why i’ve added some themes that customize the site’s appearance more boldly. i would like to create some properly layout-altering themes in the future, but it takes more work.
focus on tangible benefits
maybe the greatest trick of social media has been to convince people that 800 likes means something. it indicates popularity, but popularity’s (non-ego-related) benefits are only indirect. i try to remain focused not on popularity but on its main real-world indirect benefit, which is that i could meet people who stumble across what i’ve made. this hasn’t happened yet without a friend of mine being the intermediary, but it would be nice.
that’s why the only way to interact on this site is to send me a message. i don’t think showing other people’s commentary on my posts would improve anything, and it doesn’t matter how many people “liked” or “viewed” a post. so i funnel all interaction into the main thing i hope my site will cause people to do, which is talk to me.
freedom to post what i want
i made a rule early never to avoid making content because it feels off-brand. i have basically succeeded at that, but because i am a person and not a brand, not much i’ve made is very “off-brand” anyway. that’s ok, it’s just about not limiting myself.
to that end i designed the site to support a variety of media (longform and shortform writing, video, polished and unpolished music, code, pictures, and even more possiblities). i also added roles that restrict who can view what content. this lets me post items that i don’t feel comfortable sharing with the Whole Internet, like drafts, my old bad works, personal writing, or writing with private information.