Thursday, January 23, 2014

New website, old boots

My first few days of "retirement" seemed to involve me working harder than ever. But then, it was never "retirement." It was the Next Chapter.

One of my key projects was to update my website. I had to recast what wasn't much more than a set of bookmarks and CV files, to a presentation to the world about how I hope I might be able to help other libraries (and not just libraries) move forward. There are three ways: through speaking, through writing, and through consulting.

I have to say that I really don't like most of the websites I see. I find myself inclining toward a minimalist aesthetic in many areas of my new life. To me, that means an understanding that the most precious resource on our planet is attention. I really don't want to be shunted around 16 panels, 42 photos, 6 Flash videos, 4 Next Pages, and pop-ups. Who has the time?

After a whole lot of thought, I whittled jlarue.com down to 8 pages. That feels ... about right, especially since I can update the home page with some fresh content every week or so.

I started with a Kompozer (open source web editor) template called Simple Beauty. Everything was created from within Ubuntu LTS 12.04. The template had the right structure, but I didn't like (for this new website) the background or default font size. After a couple of tips from colleagues, I dived into the style.css file and changed some settings.

Then I went through about 8 iterations of tweaking each page (and I'm still not done with one of them, especially Testimonials). And of course, I kept finding typos, grammatical glitches, and so on.

I have to say that during the past few days I have awakened so excited that I was literally shaking. And so far, every day has delivered possibilities (of surprisingly interesting, and incidentally lucrative projects) I never imagined in my carefully articulated business plan.

Lesson? I guess it's this: PLAY. Open yourself to the universe and laugh when it delivers.

Oh, and about those boots. Some 37 years ago I was working as a truck driver (produce delivery). I bought a pair of fairly expensive work boots (no steel toe, but steel shank, Vibram soul, double-lined leather). The company that made them, Supreme, is (it seems) long gone. They offered a lifetime warranty - hard to deliver when they're not around anymore. But their boots continue to be awesome: warm, comfortable, just amazingly durable. (Could this be, one wonders, why they are no longer extant? They did their job too well - like a lightbulb factory whose bulbs never died.) Today, here in Colorado, it was a particularly cold morning. I put on my boots and brushed the snow off the walk. I found myself realizing that I have had, worn, and traveled in these boots longer than I have known almost any one else in my life. This is not just a pair of boots. It's a relationship.

And they are spectacularly green.

What, you may ask, is the connection between my website and my boots? Well! Umm. OK, here's the best I've got: it's good to be green.

3 comments:

Hamish said...

Hello Cousin! Welcome to the land of the self-employed as we term it in UK. My 25 years of consulting have been a privilege, invigorating, and hopefully highly useful to my clients. An early lesson was to go with the market but extend it. Of the several heads of my business plan, one cost me money without return, another wasn't in there but earned me significant money! Adapt, adopt, improve, as the Round Table motto says. Final point, you can't be marketing while working, and budget on no more than 100 paid days when setting your rates. If the market won't stand it, don't do it unless there is another form of pay-off. Hey, I sound like an old...
Best wishes for a successful new career!
Hamish

Jamie said...

That's sound and sage advice. Many thanks, cousin.

Chris Clay said...

I think going for a minimalistic approach is not a bad idea, especially if the idea you’re trying to convey is immediately noticeable. It also helps that the website load faster, since it’s not too cluttered with pictures, auto-playing videos and flash plugins. Anyway, if you suddenly decide to change it or if you want to add more content, it’ll be easier to do so since you have the basic structure and content present in your current site. Whatever works, right?

Chris Clay | The Clay Media