Blogging: less is more and my name is my brand

Introduction

It has been about 10 years ago, since I opted for a blogging platform called BlogEngine.Net, which was - at the that moment -
one of the leading blogging platforms in .Net space.

While this has served me quite well, I decided it was finally the time to migrate, because a lot of things have changed since that day. After some careful considerations I decided to migrate from BlogEngine.Net to a static site built with OctoPress(built on top of Jekyll) that is hosted on github pages with a new domain name.

A screenshot of my old blog

Motivation

My main reasons for migrating are these:

  • Branding: People know me by name, and my name is my brand, not my company.
  • Layout: Outdated, crowded, not drawing attention to the content.
  • Hosting: Github offers limitless hosting capabilities for static pages
  • Usability: overly complicated, too much features almost nobody used, mobile/tablet usage was a mess

Branding: People know me by name, and my name is my brand, not my company.

When I started my company about 10 years ago, the idea was to build a brand, so I spent over a week designing my own logo - yes, I do realize that was not the smartest thing to do - and invested quite a lot into this (i.e. sponsoring, adds, …).

Fast forward to today: after 10 years of being in business, I now realize nobody cares about the brand, but they know me or my online representation “ToJans”. So after some careful consideration - it took over a month to make the decision, which is a long time for me -, I now no longer represent myself by my brand, but by my own name.

I am still planning on creating some kind of a landing page for my company Core, but for now this is not a priority.

Layout: Outdated, crowded, not drawing attention to the content.

10 years ago, people assumed that the more links you have on a page, the longer people stay on your website, so I added things like tag clouds, popular posts, a search functionality, email subscriptions, twitter feeds and a lot of other stuff.

It took me a decade to realize what google realized from the beginning: simplicity is king. There is no need to force-feed all this bait onto your visitors, as they will usually not bite anyway. If they are interested, they will go the extra mile, just make sure one can find all the content in a centralized place (i.e. the archive), and that should be enough.

After all, most of my visitors on my old site used to visit about 1.4 pages on average, so why bother with all this extra overhead? People come to your site because they want to read an article, and in case they want to read more, they should be able to, but it should not be forced on them.

Hosting: Github offers limitless hosting capabilities for static pages

I still use my old hosting provider I started with a decade ago, and now probably pay way to much for things that I do not need. As my main functionality of my provider was hosting my blog, I am now planning on gradually migrating all content from there.

I am considering a VPS or something similar in the future to run my Erlang/ Elixir experiments, or I might even drop that, and just opt for cloud-based solutions.

Usability: overly complicated, too much features almost nobody used, mobile/tablet usage was a mess

When taking a look at my site usage with google analytics, I noticed the link bait just does not work; there is a very tiny percentage that actually uses it, but most people do not bother, so why add it there… If you make sure the most essential info is there, people WILL use it (f.e. I noticed for the first time people actually used the archive page on my new blog).

Also, the new breed of UI’s and the arrival of limited-screen-estate devices, requires you to offer as much screen estate and focus as necessary to the content.

Next to this, it also brings a new, more cleaner atmosphere to the visitor, which is nice, as my articles tend to be quite elaborate…

Conclusion

Well, the migration is not complete yet, as I still have to extract all references and content from old blog. The most important thing is get started, so let us end again with a motivational quote:

{% blockquote Antoine De Saint-Exupery, Author of “Le petit prince” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_petit_prince %} What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it. {% endblockquote %}

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