Developing a Strong Identity

Tuesday, July 20, 2004 at 9:52 am | Comments off

Lately I've been trying to think of ways to develop a stronger personal identity. Currently, my site fails miserably in this regard, as there is nothing that really identifies it as "mine". No nifty logo, no catchy phrase, no trademark design; heck, I don't even have a sexy domain/site name. I've been wanting to work on creating a more unique identity for myself, in an attempt to hopefully get taken more seriously (ie. obtain a larger readership) in the web development blogging community.

I think that re-designing this site, with more of an emphasis on identity, would likely be a step in the right direction. I've got a series of posts planned that I think may generate a bit of interest from the community. I've also got a redesign project (of a site that we all know and love) on the line. I'll fill in the detail on that once things become a bit more clear, and I'm sure it won't fall through. I think that it's somewhat likely for that project to generate interest, as well.

Psyche.

Since I'm not sure what the time frame on any of this will be, don't expect to see all of it happen immediately, but it is stuff to be watching for in the not-too-distant future.

Anyway, impart your wisdom to me. What are some other ways to help develop an stronger identity for myself?

Comments

Mike P.
July 20th, 2004
10:42 AM | #

This doesn't answer your question, but it perhaps covers your 'wants':

<q>"I've been wanting to work on creating a more unique identity for myself, in an attempt to hopefully get taken more seriously (ie. obtain a larger readership) in the web development blogging community."</q>

Forget about identity for that, content, content, content is what you're after. It applies to clients sites and applies to blogs.

For me, I want to read something new, something that pushes the envelope. Somthing that challenges the way that I think. Sharing ideas to these ends is what <em>I</em> look for. Hopefully your posts-in-waiting will accomplish this.

Another take would be what else can you offer me? Jonathan Hollin [1], for example, documents the things he does for his blogware/CMS, as could you, perhaps? He also has a fairly diverse and, dare I say it, not-exclusively-a-list blogroll. So while I maybe can't read a new post on his site everyday, I do up his bandwidth costs by visiting a few times a day to catch his blogroll ;-].

Anyway, an identity is important, but it won't necessarily increase your readership. Looking forward to the new posts and the new look.

[1] http://urbanmainframe.com/folders/blog/

Ryan Brill
July 20th, 2004
10:51 AM | #

"Forget about identity for that, content, content, content is what you're after."

That, of course, is very true. People don't (often) visit this site (or other blogs) just to look at it. Content is indeed king.

"Jonathan Hollin [1], for example, documents the things he does for his blogware/CMS, as could you, perhaps?"

You know, for some reason, I seemed to think that people wouldn't really be interested in that. But, since you aren't the first person to suggest it, perhaps it's time for me to start posting updates on that topic.

Ryan Brill
July 20th, 2004
10:54 AM | #

Oh, BTW, I'm planning to ditch the UBB code, and move over to XHTML. Obviously only certain elements will be allowed, but it seems much more intuitive to simply use XHTML than it is to make people remember another set of tags.

Mike P.
July 20th, 2004
10:59 AM | #

Having worked quite a bit on our blog script and CMS, it's always nice to hear what others do ;-]

Matthew Pennell
July 20th, 2004
11:10 AM | #

Mike got in first, but I can only back him up - a great design will only get you so far, it's the content that keeps people coming back time after time. For example, Todd Dominey has a beautiful site/brand, but I rarely bother to check his site because I don't find what he talks about that interesting, at least not on a regular basis anyway.

By all means push the design envelope (witness what Andrei is going through at the moment over at DxF), but it has to be built on the foundation of compelling (and fairly frequent) content.

Talking about 'identity' rather than design, it strikes me that the only blogger I can think of with a real 'identity' is Scrivs, with his strong common brands across the 9rules "network"; and those are probably the least 'designed' sites around.

Is that the sort of thing you're after, or do you simply feel that having a blog that looks like everyone else's (sorry!) is holding you back?

NateL
July 20th, 2004
11:49 AM | #

I would have to agree - content is king.

Content + good design = king elected to a second term. ;)

Content + good design + identity = all-powerful dictator for life.

StopDesign, DesignByFire, and SimpleBits all come to mind. Great design, consistently powerful content, and identity I would recognize on a t-shirt in the mall.

IMO, the driving force behind it all, though, is tutorial-like content for really practical stuff. Share some of your PHP secrets. Let me know your CSS methodology. How do you pick colors in design? Your form highlighting comes to mind. That is the stuff people eat up. Well-written tutorials on how to do trade secrets - how to separate themselves from some guy with Front Page templates and a wizard.

Anyway, you have some good stuff up here. Keep the content coming and also put some effort into another nice design with some identity. Then just wait - if you build it, they will come.

Jonathan Hollin
July 20th, 2004
12:40 PM | #

"Jonathan Hollin, for example, documents the things he does for his blogware/CMS..."

Only because I have nothing else to write about! :-(

Matthom
July 20th, 2004
2:36 PM | #

"Is that the sort of thing you're after, or do you simply feel that having a blog that looks like everyone else's (sorry!) is holding you back?"

You've got a great site, and you have great CSS skills. Just because 'most' blogs look pretty similar, doesn't mean this blog doesn't already have it's own 'brand feel.'

The 'brand feel' comes partly from the design aspect, and another part from what's being said.

I think your tone is always 'straight-forward,' and clear. A lot of blogs yap on and on about ideas and concepts that only five people in the world can understand. I like 'plain-english' blogs - that speak to the audience, not to the author themselves.

You already have a 'brand feel,' believe it or not. But there's always room to enhance the brand, or create an entirely new one. That's the reason web developers exist.

Keep up the good blog posts, and good design!

Daniel
July 20th, 2004
8:35 PM | #

I think that Sergio does a very good job at self-identity on his site, because pretty much everything on there is unique and his little animated version of himself really does a good job to convey his identity. I would say that your site needs more of a "theme", to make it more unique, and it should somehow go along with any hobbies/interests of yours.

Ronald van der Wijden
July 21st, 2004
5:41 AM | #

Ryan,

don't worry; I visit your blog daily ever since you gave the answer to Dave Shea's "Friday Challenge" the quickest. Strong identity and impressive design help, but quality content keeps 'em coming back.
A consistent site title might help... :) Also, quality articles on sites like ALA - like the negative margin piece - and Digital Web will spread your name among a larger audience.

Robert Wellock
July 23rd, 2004
8:30 AM | #

The Dark God of XHTML... Bestowed many gifts to his patrons and one of those was uniqueness.

Be yourself do not try to emulate greatness create the reality or you'll be swallowed by the nothingness; that is the key to helping to create Strong Identity.

Look within yourself.

Meitar Moscovitz
July 26th, 2004
3:24 PM | #

:) In my humble opinion, the best way to develop anything is to let it happen. In the case of personal sites or an individual's identity (unless you're of the philosophy that one must have a refined and superbly "polished public persona") that means simply doing stuff for yourself and then sharing it with the world. You seem to do that already.

As an aside, your article on ALA somewhat confused me (link: http://alistapart.com/discuss/negativemargins/7/#c8966). If you have the time and are so inclined, I would greatly appreciate some help understanding it. Thanks.

Mark
July 28th, 2004
12:44 AM | #

Hate to post a "me too", but everyone previous has hit it on the head as far as content. Good writing, whether on the part of the poster OR the commentor (or both) will develop a brand following moreso than an image - especially on a blog.

The one thing I would add is that the key to developing a successful following - in my opinion - is to understand the communication expectation of your audience.

I wrote up something along those lines on my site not too long ago, if you care to take a read
http://www.lightpierce.com/ltshdw/archives/000096.html.

Akhmad Fathonih
August 5th, 2004
2:14 AM | #

People has said alot, lemme say mine :). Good site, bad site vary among people. People have its own standar of good and bad. To achieve more readership means you have to follow a certain recipe. A recipe that a group of people -- you would like to be your reader -- will accept. And I bet these recipes vary alot as well.

There's one recipe -- I guess people will always accept -- I know; humbleness, and caring to share :).

You know what, I put your blog on mine; entitled: cool blog with cool blogroll. That's your blog dude! ^.^

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