The Words and Buttons Online is a growing collection of interactive tutorials, guides, and quizzes about maths, algorithms, performance, and programming languages. That’s what I want it to be. That’s what I wrote on its front page. But apparently, as people keep telling me, it’s my blog.
One year ago a few of my friends and I were sitting in a bar talking about things. Blogging just came up among others.
I was already experimenting with semi-interactive things on Medium like quizzes where you had to scroll down to see the answers. But Medium is just too restrictive. All you can do is words and pictures.
And this goes for all the major platforms. There are a few stand-alone blogs that went there, sure, but generally platform holders don’t give you the freedom you want because giving freedom to users is not a valid business model.
Still, I wanted more that words and pictures. You can tell a linear story with words and pictures, but I wanted true interactivity. I wanted responsive plots, living illustrations, quizzes, games, and Easter eggs. I wanted another dimension in storytelling. I wanted not words and pictures but words and buttons.
So in a few days I took some of my Medium pieces and crafted the site I wanted from that. I’m not a web-developer, not a designer, not a writer. I’m absolutely not a search engine optimizer or community builder, or whatever you need these days to “bring traffic” to your site. I’m an engineer, I create things, and I believe it’s improper to refer to the people that enjoy your things as “traffic”.
As you can see, I was not aiming for success.
But I did enjoy the process. In one year, I published 25 pages.
There were more than 1200 commits to the words and buttons repository on GitHub.
I’m personally responsible for more than 1100 of them so, ok, I’m willing to accept that it’s my blog. I would personally prefer it to be more inclusive, but it is what it is.
What’s a bit unexpected, other people do seem to enjoy words and buttons as visitors. I don’t have the statistics as elaborate as Medium does, but even the Bluehost’s Awstats show that it’s doing ok as for a stand-alone site about maths and assembly.
Another thing that came up unexpected is that the interactive visuals work not only for understanding, but for explaining things as well. I did a few talks with them this year and, according to the feedback, the visuals were the things that drag most attention.
I can even do the whole thing for you from scratch, but then it has to be unlicensed, too. That’s the deal.
Also, I was kind of expecting this to be an educational experience for me, but I did underestimate the scale. I did learn a lot more in a year than I ever expected. Not only about design or writing, but, thanks to the high quality feedback from all around the world, about math, performance, and languages as well.
I like that! I want more of that. I want more feedback both positive and negative. I think, negative one makes me better, and the positive one makes me happier. I want a healthy dose of both.
Speaking of fun. People has been asking me, how long would I hold till I start selling ads or gathering user data. We are living in the age of commercialization, aren’t we?
Well, I think I found a monetization scheme that will work for everyone. How about I share what I know and what I am passionate about, gather feedback, and learn from it. And become better at what I do. And charge more as a contractor, or get a better position as an employee.
Yes, some might say that this is hardly a valid business model, but since my maintenance costs are that low, dollar for dollar I made like 2000% profit this year only.
Speaking in commonly acceptable terms, this is an investment in my personal brand, so there will never be ads or Patreon buttons or anything else on Words and Buttons apart from the content for my visitors. This includes only words, buttons, plots, games, quizzes, and probably a picture of a tree once in a while.