Even more special, diverse, weird and broken

A little bit about what is culminating in me and how my website is (finally?) changing direction and style

I have a new website.

I don’t think you noticed. First of all, nobody comes here (plot twist) and secondly, it’s not that recognizable.

Hugo → Kirby

The new content management system (CMS) that the site is running on is to blame for everything. I switched from the original, static Hugo CMS to the so-called flat-file Kirby CMS. I won’t dissect the technicalities, at least for today, but who cares for them can happily jump into this footnote: 1

The communities of both CMSes are amazing and both systems handle what I put on them. And where else to start experimenting with something new than on your own turf - here. Well I took the original design and just fired up the new engine.

And during this web migration, reading through tutorials, documentation and posts from others in the community, it led me to the amazing Own Your Web newsletter from Matthias Ott. And that’s where things started happening…

Owning my web

For context - although it’s clearly visible from my site itself: I don’t write. The feeling of publishing something publicly, potentially for all to see, is paralyzing. It’s even worse when you yourself are consuming polished content elsewhere - it’s hard to lower the bar then.

In his newsletter, Matthias promotes the renaissance of our own websites as a revolt against the social media juggernauts who are trying to pull data from underneath you. Against the giants where you are only visiting thanks to their benevolence.

Everything you have is taken from you (more often than not, literally) and omg forbid you might look like a wrong-doer (misunderstanding is enough) – all power is on their side – and that part of your digital life simply goes poof.

I understand that for the mainstream, I’m going to be paranoid again. But I couldn’t have read the multitudes of posts (Reddit is a endless source) of people who have, for example, had their account blocked by Google because “they found something bad on Drive” - and without much detail. All email, backups, data, photos, contacts, phone purchases, maps, YouTube videos… pooof.

And so this fight to create at least a small island that is truly yours, where you are the master, is important. Or at least it is for those of us who walk in it a little bit. This resonates with me. Great, I’ve had my own website since forever. But the main thing - taking care of that content - is kind of missing.

Matthias throws a bunch of interesting, relevant links into every newsletter - to similar “fools” who are still fooling around with their own website. It’s a feast for the eyes and the intellect every time. It’s opened up this world of weird sites that are being themselves and proudly claim to be so. They materialize their authors, I would say, in the Czech proverbial:

Eye web, window to the soul

They rip out stereotypes (which irritates me as a UXer, but as a designer I enjoy it), sometimes just to be different from others. But the diversity is breathtaking. The attention to detail and obvious love of the craft, translated into HTML and a bit of CSS.

And so, week after week (when Own Your Web comes out), inspiration of this type has been pouring in:

  • Robin Rendle: I am a poem I am not software - a call for more weird, possibly broken and unfinished, but mostly personal websites (we are not software to serve everyone and we are each unique)
  • Manuel Moreale: The personality of a personal website - Manuel builds on Robin above and throws in the question I struggle with every time I write - what personality/tone will the website have? Personally, I think the Czech is complicated in this one due to my/site’s ambivalence between informal and formal language (besides, I’m stealing his article listing at the bottom of the footer - that’s genius!)
  • Good Enough LLC: Bad Ideas Are Fun - in general, the whole wtf concept of their websites, projects and self-presentation intrigued me so much that I spent half an hour clicking through their work

It took me back two decades, when I started coding my first websites with exactly the same enthusiasm, albeit with much less professionalism and worse execution.

Maybe that’s exactly why I feel so tied down now. To be worthy of publication, to have a proper testimonial value, and ideally about something no one has written before (ha!). How many hoops can a man put before his own feet?

So, expect a few things.
A major transformation of this site.

The engine would have been done by now, now comes the bodywork. I’ve been dragging around the limitations of the site’s first versions for years, which I put online more then 10 years ago.

Cool URLs don’t change”, remember?
Sorry Tim, not this time.

..and it makes me fill in the same form over and over again. Yes, you’ll be seeing more of these cheesy phrases too :)

I’ve already deleted a lot of the old content. And the site has been switched to Czech primarily. English will still be there, but only as a supplement (not the other way around). It will hopefully allow me to write more of this one, from the top of my tongue. And only the more “interesting and valuable” pieces will be translated for the world. Or not. From now on, I’m really going to do a lot more of what I want to do here.

So again – welcome, no need to take your shoes off.

This article thingy has been translated with DeepL.com (free version) and edited afterwards by me (to add some awful grammar and syntax errors :)

  1. Hugo, written in Go, generated static sites, which is great for site speed and security (it’s just HTML files that are linked - no databases, logins, or any of the things that cause most hacks).
    In contrast, Kirby is a PHP content management system on a flat-file basis. So again, no database, but already with some administration and a much more pleasant flow of writing and editing content. In short, it has a few more metaphorical cogs, so it’s not as secure, but again it’s compensated by more flexibility and better usability. 

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Martin Allien