Dan Mall

I teach designers how to get the respect they deserve.

May 2023

I’m disappointed in this website.

Or, more accurate, I’m disappointed with what I’ve done with this website. Actually, I’m disappointed with what I haven’t done with this website.

I launched this version just over 6 months ago with a few specific goals. Without getting too into it, the overall motivation was to create more content. While I did that a bit, one intention was to use this site as a public second brain, recording and publishing smaller daily quips and musings.

I did no such thing.

It’d be one thing if it was same reason I posted infrequently to previous versions of this site: namely, that I wasn’t making much time to write. But that’s not true this time. While I posted 7 articles to this site, I posted hundreds of tweets, 78 posts to Instagram, 27 newsletter issues, 16 posts on TikTok, and 7 YouTube videos.

It’s not that I wasn’t making time to write. It’s that I wasn’t making time to write here.

“Own your content” is the common refrain they sing. I’m a member of that choir too, but the reality of it is that the combination of tools, reach, and addictive patterns make other platforms easier and more desirable to post to than my own. I hate that. I’m a conscious participant in that.

We who want to swim against that tide try to find ways to sweeten the pots of our own platforms—read: personal websites. Maybe ours can be more custom, express more of my personality. This CMS doesn’t cut it, but maybe the next one will make it easier to post from my phone so I’ll want to write more. The next redesign will solve it once and for all.

It’s naive. It’s the reason many personal sites are the result of one big sprint, done in-between the cracks of work and home life, ultimately turned into a ghost town for the Mediums and Substacks of the world.

But still, here are my ideas for the next redesign of this site, the one I think might solve it once and for all.

One thing I do love about this version of this site is my monthly issues. I work on them every month. I look forward to making them, and so I do so consistently. I want the next version of this site—more likely a dot release—to revolve more heavily around this monthly issue idea. I do well with goals that have built-in limits in other areas of my life, so I’d like to bring that here. Maybe each monthly issue has four stories I shoot for, 1 per week. That gives me a weekly habit of writing to this site to adhere to.

It also solves a problem I’ve been noodling on for the last few months too: I want my weekly newsletter issues to also appear on this site. Lest I foolishly try to create a new habit, my weekly newsletters could be the stories in each issue. Then I’d have full archived issues with regular publishing. Birds: meet stone.

Lastly, it takes care of something I don’t currently have on this version of the site: the ability to browse previous month’s issues. While there’s something interesting to me about the idea of an ephemeral issue, it mostly works against what I’ve loved about maintaining some version of a personal site for 15 years: it’s an archive I can look back and reflect on to see how I’ve grown over many years.

I have a few rudimentary sketches done of how all this might look and work, so it’s at least past the idea stage and on its way to becoming a reality. Now to find the time to make it so…

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