There’s a debate raging on the bay-chi list over nathan.com (he made his links too small, defying Fitt’s law. Shocking! I’ve never seen a designer do that before.) The part of the debate I found interesting was the question of how to evaluate this weird hybrid, the personal-professional site. I’ve always held that personal sites do not get attacked on their usability. period. However, Nathan’s site is a hybrid– a personal-professional site.
some other personal-professional sites include
- Jakob Neilsen’s useit.com
- Don Norman’s jnd.org
- Jef Raskin’s jefraskin.com
- Jesse James Garret’s jjg.net
- Peter Merholz’s peterme.com
they vary in their emphasis on the more personal aspects of their life: Peter and Jef seem willing to marry the two, while Jesse and Jakob keep them neatly separate. The both have a ton of content, and pay the minimum effort to design (obviously some are more skilled than others, but I don’t dare name names for fear of scoldings). They also often don’t reflect what they preach: both Peter’s site and Jakob’s are notoriously hard to use when one is trying to locate a resource the offered in the past.
and of course this site is an example of the same: Eleganthack is decidedly a personal-professional site. I run it alone, it reveals my design and editorial failings, and it doesn’t always practice what I preach (or what you might assume I’d preach). Instead it’s a place where — whenever I can steal some minute out of my day — I shove my baby thoughts into the world to fly.
I guess my question is: what are the rules for evaluators when looking at these hybrids? Do we demand they practice what they preach, or do we simply thanks them for taking the time to share their knowledge. I lean toward the latter, but if your site is out there to promote your professional skills, shouldn’t it also be an example of yoru excellence? The one chance to not have your craft watered down by compromises with marketing, technology, etc., typically foisted upon one in a commercial project?
Mike wrote to me:
there’s a fine line between being usability advocates and usability police. comments about “being allowed” to do things and “the rules for” personal sites can come across as guliani-esque.
fly your freak flag nathan!
Nathan himself has this to say about personal websites.