How to Make Your Site Reflect You
Why I decided to throw out the libraries and make my site look like me.
“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” Margaret Mead
I’m a silly person.
If I see an invitation to act like a goof and get a laugh from someone, I will jump on it. When I write, I do the same. I have only published a few stories here but if you read one, you can get a sense of my love for the ridiculous.
So as I set out to make a site for myself, at first I fell into the trap of trying to make it look “professional” a.k.a. like everyone else. Now there are some great templates out there and many services for setting up a personal site and I explored a bunch.
Then it hit me: will this site even reflect who I am to the person on it?
I realized I needed to make my own site from scratch, and thus my new site has been born.
Come stop by and get to know about me and what I do, I have cookies! Of course, this is a website so I'm not sure how I…shebhnt.github.io
While I was developing it I discovered three things that I think can help anyone else who is on a similar journey as me. I will try to focus on things that may not be the first things you think about.
Tip #1: Use interactions to help give your user as sense of who you are.
I have always been a lover of games. I especially love games that have quirky writing (remember, I am a silly person), especially if they can cleverly break the fourth wall in a way. So I knew from the start I wanted to give a visitor to my site a sense of that love.
So right from the start I used wording that looks like a game: “Press Space/Tap to Start.” And one a user does that, they get a quick interaction with me. It’s like an RPG and I’m an character that they are now talking too. I even made sure the text came up character by character like most game dialogue.
When you get past the intro, you finally get the menu but that just continues the idea that you are talking to me. Instead of “About Me” it’s “Who are you?”
When you design your site, how will the user interact with it and navigate it? Make sure to capitalize on all of those moments.
Tip #2: Use the writing to give your user a sense of who you are.
One of my favorite bits of advice I was told when I was in college and learning about screenwriting (I’m a little bit all over the place) is that the descriptive text in a script needs to be entertaining.
This is the text that the average movie goer doesn’t think about, it’s the text that becomes the visual, yet it will be the text that will shape the feel of the movie more than anything else.
If you read a script for an episode of Lost, they put what they audience should feel at any given moment into that descriptive text (usually with a few expletives). Tarantino’s description of the diner from the opening of Pulp Fiction not only gives you a clear picture of the location but the feeling that particular location should give the audience.
I made sure to do this in my site as well. The language I use and style I write really reflects who I am.
Does your writing match your personality? Make sure you shine through in each word that the user will read.
Tip#3: Use easter eggs to give your user a sense of who you are.
One thing I enjoy about games is the little hidden surprises that they often squeeze into their games. It is always fun to find references to other games or a message from the developers themselves.
I wanted to also do this with my site.
Right now my easter eggs are just silly comments in my code but I do have some plans to add more to it.
I can remember the first time I discovered the hidden high-five game in Mailchimp. It made me enjoy the service even more knowing they took the time to code it in.
What surprises can you add to your site that would reveal just a little bit more about you?
I hope that this has been helpful to generate some ideas for those out there who may be in the process of creating their own site or thinking about a redesign. If you have any other tips, please leave a reply below.
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Shelbey “Wash” Hunt currently serves as a missionary with SIM International where he is the “Designer and Technical Analyst,” a title that is as confusing to him as it is to you.