Recently I signed up for Amazon affiliate links and Google AdSense, for no apparent reason. And in doing so, I had to define my blog’s main category/subject matter. Um. Help.
I’m a gal who inherently wears too many hats, and I started like seven different blogs (see sidebar) to avoid this very type of boxing-in. I don’t like alienating the nerds with makeup talk, or the cook people with iPhone whining. But I think I have a couple remaining topics that I tend to infrequently place here—roughly, “technology” and “Better Homes and Gardens.” OK, not exactly. But, like, style-y home design-y whatever ideas that are largely a product of the fact that we bought a house and now I wanna make it all pretty, and then nerdy nerdy nerd things that come from me becoming a nerdier nerd who posts on App.net and listens to 5by5 and works in an increasingly technical day job. And those two things (pretty homes and nerdy nerds) don’t seem to combine to yield a coherent blog design template, at least not one I’ve hit yet.
Let’s take a look at a couple of prominent tech bloggers’ sites, for starters. We’ve got Marco.org, Anil Dash, Daring Fireball. Clean lines, white space, usually sans-serif font, and very few images. Usually only images for a single targeted sponsorship placement, in fact.
Now let’s peek at a few home design-y sites. We’ve got House of Turquoise, with very image-focused posts and an image-heavy ad-filled sidebar and everything serif. We’ve got Colour Me Happy, which is sans but totally image-happy. We’ve got Style by Emily Henderson, which is a clunky if apt name IMO, and is much sanser and cleaner than the rest, but still pretty image-focused for the content. And we’ve got Apartment Therapy, whose inconsistently serif-ified upper sidebar still sends me into fits.
See what I mean? Totally different vibe, even with “clean” design sites. The nerds design sites like nerds writing for nerds, and the style mavens design sites that I can only describe as “with flourish.” It makes perfect sense given both audiences, but I struggle with finding my own middle ground. I care about fun and punchy and bright and happy and playful design, hence my color scheme, but I also like the clean content-focused look, hence the sans fonts and relatively clear sidebar and the whining in this post.
On one hand, I’d like to clean up my site even more, to appeal to the nerds as I become more nerdy myself. But on the other hand, images are attractive when they’re not overwhelming. Sidebars are useful places for links. Advertising revenue is nice. (Yet when I feel out boutique ad networks, well, I’m not boutique enough because my content is kind of split, you know? Also extremely infrequent but that’s another thing.) I get criticized by professional style-y bloggers for the “wall of text” with few or no images, but then that seems totally acceptable in the nerd world as long as you have a point. (I KNOW, that’s a whole other thing too, shut up.) One blog whose extremely clean yet image-forward style I LOVE is The NeoTraditionalist, so much so that I even called her web designer up for a quote… but I think her look is ultimately way too girly for me even though I admire the aesthetic.
Anywho. Maybe I’ll actually wind up starting a whole new blog for my nerdy side, and keeping this site for the pretty stuff. But I don’t think I want to. I think my Horcruxization of my different interests has led to me creating less content rather than more—when was the last time you saw me update framboi.se or heliotro.pe? Like never. Right. I’d like to get back to actually writing more instead of just thinking/talking/tweeting about it (and paying for expensive international domain hacks), but I do wish I felt more confident or comfortable with my own web design choices. (And full disclosure, Grant did all the custom CSS work on this one anyway, and I need to change it to a proper non-custom theme since half of the badass features he created after I begged for them don’t play nice with iOS. Of COURSE.)
At the very least, I’m relieved that we’re now in a place where not all websites look the same! You know what’s kind of weird, though? It doesn’t even look that different in Geocities-izer. I guess that must really be the mark of a cleanish blog, right? Perhaps I’ve got that going for me.