I wondered, why do people have personal websites? With so many other places to build an online presence, why have a website, and how to use it?
I follow 3700-or-so Twitter accounts. Some of them are companies, but most are people. So I looked through all their profiles to see who had a link to their personal website. I was only interested in the personal websites, domain names their they own, not company websites, LinkedIn profiles, their Substack, etc. So, why do people have personal websites?
Eleanor’s website is mostly a blog about software development and delivery, and also has links to social media.
Ann’s website is a marketing site. It promotes her books, speaking, training, and newsletter. The site has a blog but more as a means of framing articles on the site. Perhaps the regular content is through the newsletter.
As a product manager, speaker and creator, Amber’s very polished and professional website is definitely a portfolio site. Her blog only has two posts from August 2020,
Martin’s site is an index of links to his writing on other sites. The last blog post was in January 2020 and the last conference talk in July.
Emma’s website promote’s her web design business, showing her portfolio of work and a contact form for potential clients.
Sharon’s website promotes her consultancy business. It provides links to her speaking, appearances on podcasts and videos, and blog about digital transformation.
Justin’s website has links to things he’s working on and his social media accounts but unusually also has lots of articles he’s written.
Anna’s website is a one-page with some info about her and links to other platforms like Twitter and Medium.
Jeremy’s website is a one-pager with that is mostly directing visitors to another site to sign up for training.
Balaji S. Srinivasan
Balaji’s website is a blog with posts about things he’s interested in and perhaps invests in.
Tamara’s website has beautiful animation, pretty gradients of colour, and a custom cursor to help communicate what she does, which is build websites. The site also has links to her social media and a newsletter sign-up.
Tobi’s website has an about page, a portfolio with a very full history of work, and a blog with weeknotes.
I wonder if there are two types of websites; finished and regularly updated.
Most the websites I looked would fall into the ‘finished’ group. They serve as portfolios of previous work and lead generation for future business. I wonder if social media, newsletters, and other not-owned platforms are the reason why these sites are not updated more regularly. Or is it just because the owners of these websites view websites as things that can be finished, that they just don’t need to be updated regularly.
The websites that are thought of as digital gardens, places to record and explore ideas, somewhere to publish where we feel we own the content and so own our personal brand, are much more rare.
On personal websites you have to handle production and distribution (if you want anyone to read what you write), whereas if you write on Medium or SubStack or some other platform the distribution is handled for you. So, perhaps what we can see from the websites we looked at is a trend of having a website as a static, enduring, ‘home’ for your ‘personal brand’, something that will show up in search results for your name for those that don’t already follow you on social media, something that communicates your USP and gives potential clients a means to contact you, but not a place to write or regularly update.