june 1st, 2021

3 thoughts about making your own personal website

This month of june, my website completes its first anniversary. Hooray! It's been a very fulfilling experience, and during this past year, I've learned some things about website-making (and about myself) that made it even better. I thought it'd be appropriate to share them here.

Needless to say, these thoughts work for me, right now. You may disagree with some or all of them, and this is fine! Maybe they will resonate with someone :)

1. Seasonality is fine

In the beginning, you are very excited to work on your website - you spend many nights creating e-shrines, browsing other people's pages for inspiration, and making the homepage just perfect. This is a wonderful part of the process! But after a while, you start updating it less and less - maybe something came up in your personal life, or you ran out of ideas, or you simply got bored.

If you're like me, you'll feel a little bit guilty about "abandoning" your website, especially if you have something like a journal or weblog that seems to require constant updating. My advice is: Don't feel guilty!!! It's normal for interests to be seasonal (not just with website-making), and the best solution is to just accept it. Motivation is seasonal, and forcing it may turn a pleasing activity into just another chore. Of course, waiting eternally for the "right inspiration" is also not a good approach, but you must pay attention to yourself and learn when to push and when to retreat.

This applies not only to your whole website, but to individual pages as well: lists or shrines which are incomplete but that you constantly think about finishing "someday". Finish or not, it's fine! In this section of the web, everything is always under construction.

2. You're the only one bored with your website

Another aspect of the initial excitement fading away is that you may begin to feel that your pages are somewhat stale, bland, or just plain old. Although you were pretty proud at first of how they came to be, after a while they stopped reflecting the way you feel, and the gut instinct may be to remake them.

This is normal! Novelty is inspiring, and familiarity is not. You're surely free to remake them as many times you like, and making new templates is very pleasing in and of itself. However, know this: you're the only one who's bored with your pages, because you're (probably) the person who looks at them the most! Everyone else looks at your page only once in a while, and they are much less familiar with it than you - for them, your website is certainly much more novel and mysterious, and they may see no need of reinventing it.

Like I said before, if changing the templates is something you want to do, that's fine, go for it - but beware of trying to please yourself with something novel all the time, because novelty inevitably fades, and you're the hardest person to please.

3. Consider mobile

Most of neocities websites are not very good when accessed via mobile. This is understandable, because making cool websites is hard, and making them mobile responsive is even harder - especially if you want a specific look and feel that may not translate well to a vertical screen. However, most web browsing today is done via mobile, like it or not. So, if you want to share your personal website with people, I'd recommend checking how it looks on a phone. I understand it's not the "intended experience", but sometimes a little change is enough to turn a completely broken website into a somewhat functional one, and this can make a big difference!

You may think: "I don't want to change my creative vision because of normies on mobile who won't even like my content anyway". And I totally hear you! But you never know who's on the other side of the phone screen... maybe it's someone who would find your website interesting enough to go on the computer to see it as intended, or maybe it's a fellow neocities dweller who just happens to be on the toilet!! You never know...

I suggest at least adding a div with "This website is intended to be seen on the computer" which only appears on mobile, how about that? Just keep it in mind.

P.S.: Two practical things that you may already know but that took me a while to figure out: (1) every modern browser has a mode to "simulate" a phone screen, and (2) you can add a selector like "@media (max-width: 800px) { [...] }" to make some CSS that applies only to mobile.