If you’ve been following this blog for a while then you may have noticed a change in theme and layout. I’ve gone from a full multipurpose theme to a stripped down layout. No more fancy drop down menus, no more funky animations, no more colour coding my articles by category. Just text, a bit of blue at the top, and a simple navigation. I had to make this change, as a detox from clutter and numbers.
Lately I’ve been drawn to minimalism, taking a leaf out of Paul Jarvis’ site and his latest book, “The Good Creative”, as well as Owen Williams’s blog (owened.co.nz), which sports a clean, content-focused layout, the norm for blogs hosted on Svbtle. Both Paul and Owen have their newsletters, and while the subject matter is quite different (Paul focusing on creativity and content, and Owen focusing on technology and innovation), there’s one thing that these two have in common: they pack a punch of great content, with zero clutter.
Less really is more, but I didn’t fully realise it until I saw my own blog being brought down by fancy CSS animations, fancy colour coordinations and fancy layout. All that fancy fluff was becoming the highlight of my blog, to me. (Trust me, you don’t want to know the hours I spent tinkering with the design behind the scenes of this blog.)
So I changed it and “rebooted” my site, with a stripped down layout that puts emphasis on content.
I want to showcase my content, not my platform. While the platform does have its own importance, it shouldn’t be the highlight of your time spent on this site, or my time spent working on this site.
My previous layout used to display the number of times my articles were viewed right next to the article title. While I could’ve easily turned it off, I have to admit – I thoroughly enjoyed it. It gave me a sense of pleasure and self-gratification: look at all the views, look at the numbers going up, look at them increasing. Look. At. Them.
Those numbers worked as a comfort pillow, which eventually turned into a crippling exercise. Stats can be crippling. That’s odd for me to say since I work with numbers on a daily basis – but those aren’t my numbers. Those are numbers that belong to the company I work for, those are numbers that belong to clients I work for, those are numbers that belong to people who email me through this blog asking for help with their Facebook Insights exports. Those numbers aren’t mine.
My best performing and most read article to date is one on sentiment analysis. The feeling I’d get looking at the times that article was read, that would give me a kick, a good one. You’d think that it would spur me to do more, and it certainly did – to some extent. That was until the crippling moment kicked in: how do you top your best work? What if everything else you create from now on is only second to your best work? The mind of a creative person is the best and worst thing that could ever happen to them.
Numbers aren’t crippling, but the way you look at them and react to them can hinder your creativity. That’s why I removed them from my site. Now, the focus is on what I write, the responses in the comment section or in the emails I receive from here.
As for numbers, I’ll only look at them when and if I need to, but otherwise I’m content with what I write.
Numbers shouldn’t prove your work – your work should be good enough to prove itself.