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I'm upgrading

Vikrant Duggal
Vikrant Duggal
• 3 min read

This is my Internet home. In my physical home, I perform maintenance, care, and upgrades as needed. Why wouldn't I do the same here? Unlike my physical home, this is my forever home. I also host more people on this property monthly than I do in my home and most people visit for reading and learning.

It’s important to keep things tidy and make it easy to navigate.

The last time I updated my website was September 2020. I was intrigued by the platform and found a developer who could help me set up a website cheaply and quickly. I ended up hosting the site on DigitalOcean. As I dug through Ghost documentation, I realized that there was too much customization I wanted to do; I didn't have the bandwidth to learn to design and code it, and my developer moved on from the type of work he helped me with originally. As I navigated the ecosystem of developers it seemed limited, with most people opting to create templates for the platform.

From July 2020 I started publishing essays at a higher frequency (about once a week), then things were on and off, and sometime toward the end of March I published content daily. I started dedicating my time to producing a weekly newsletter. I collaborated with other individuals on a few essays.

Two major themes emerged from my writing: consulting for creators and revenue growth for entrepreneurs. In fact, I had so many essays on both topics that I created a guide for each where I could pull together the information scattered across many essays. This made it easy for my visitors and readers to learn all I had produced on these topics.

I also created a Spotlight series where I share the interesting things I find on the Internet. I've even taken to sharing my highlights from the Kindle books I read and add a bit of context for my readers.

Ninety-one consecutive essays and thirteen consecutive email newsletters later, I started noticing cracks in the experience. By installing Google Analytics and Google Search Console on this site I know pages don’t always load optimally in some environments (like mobile - eek!) and some of the email subscribe boxes also don’t work (!). But my goal last year was to write more and build a habit and I did that. I liked the Ghost editor and mostly things worked fine. Overall, I’m writing more frequently and my writing is improving day by day. So much so that I’ve even carved out time for editing.

It's time to invest in an upgrade to this home of mine on the Internet. My writing has improved dramatically since I first got serious about it last July. I'm inspired by writers like Julian Shapiro, Venkatesh Rao, Nat Eliason, John Gruber, Fred Wilson, and Derek Siver who have made their work very accessible to their readers. I’m not actively creating a personal brand, or hone in on a niche. I want to write and share my journey.

What’s next? I'd like to improve the reading experience across desktop, tablet, and smartphone. I want to make it easy to use the RSS feed. I want you, the reader, to be able to focus on the written word on the screen and read with ease.

There are the design elements of the website and pages and there's the content. I’m focused on the design elements at the moment. Some questions I reflected on include:

  • What links, graphics, pitches, or repetitive elements can I eliminate?
  • Is my font large and legible?
  • Are my social share buttons obvious and easy to use?
  • Are my images crowded by text?
  • Is navigation a stream or a web?
  • Is it easy to read my content on mobile?

For design, I want:

  • tell a story with topography
  • a light background
  • easy navigation
  • Simplicity
  • I want to be able to create a linked table of contents for longer essays. Especially the guides. I like how Julian does his guides.
  • I want the option to tastefully promote my products and offerings and make them relevant to the article.
  • I want well-padded images.
  • It could be fun to include reading stats, or a progress bar?
  • I want it to be easy to share on social.
  • I want reading on mobile to be a dream.
  • I don't want more than 3 fonts (Headline, paragraph, quote font), plenty of white space, and to utilize the "golden ratio" where applicable.

I know what I want. Now to find my Internet home interior designer.

PS - I'm open to alternatives.