No one will argue the fact that Content is King, including myself. With my heavy coding background, however, it’s not always easy to focus on writing content.
A Little Background On My Background
Professionally, my primary discipline has been building web applications. While sharing a few concepts with traditional website design, designing and developing web applications has many unique aspects to it. Without getting too specific, I spent many years designing application databases, learning new systems and frameworks, building out web services, coding integration with 3rd party applications, and very, very little time writing content.
It wasn’t until about a year into my professional career did I start putting together websites on my own. The first, webnelly.com, was more of a playground than anything else. In fact, it looked down right awful.
Yikes! The next site I created was Nighthawks Hockey Online, which was heavy on application functionality rather than content. With a full community forum, extensive stats and schedule sections, and many other data driven features, large blocks of content were nowhere to be found.
About this time, I really started to focus on web standards and expanding my skillset with CSS based layouts, designing site comps and layouts with Photoshop, and ultimately signing up for a formal Web Design course. As a result, I created Ka’anapali Dreamin’, which is by far the most content-rich site in my portfolio. With the launch of that site, I had successfully added Web Designer and Content Author to the list of roles I now play regularly.
Welcome to the Blogosphere
My entrance to the blogosphere was a little late than most people, giving me yet another place to write original content and contribute to the World Wide Web. Although it was a slow start, I now post on 4 different blogs and target at least 1-2 new posts a day. Anyone that writes on even a single blog will tell you that committing the necessary time and effort can sometimes be a challenge. While my situation is no different, I’ve always enjoyed writing throughout my life, and continuing with that has become very rewarding.
Where my personal conflict of code vs. content comes into play is that the Web is such an exciting place these days. There are so many cool things I still want to learn and incorporate into my sites. At my recent pace, I’ve probably been learning 1-2 new APIs a month from different sources like Blogger, Flickr, script.aculo.us, and others. While I enjoy writing, I thrive on learning, so that usually ranks higher when I have to choose what to work on.
For awhile, many of the pages on Ka’anapali Dreamin’ were in a permanent “coming soon” state, because I was too busy building out new features to the rest of the site. I’ve recently tried my best to catch up, but it isn’t always easy. I often find myself procrastinating on simple page updates and putting off writing prose just to tinker with something new. Sometimes things completely irrelevant will peek my interest and delay other updates.
Content is King
But I still realize that Content is King. Of all the changes and phases that I have gone through in my web development over the years, Ka’anapali Dreamin’ has really brought on the biggest shift in my priorities. The primary focus of my previous sites has really been for my own personal use, or for friends and family. With my Maui site, the purpose is different. The goal of Ka’anapali Dreamin’ is to “Share the Magic of Maui”. That change in focus puts the site’s visitors as the priority, and not just me doing something solely to learn how it works.
While I’ve been getting better at putting my visitors first and working on pushing out fresh content as frequently as I can, old habits die hard. For example, I have a week off from work this week because of the holiday, and I listed out a few things that I’m considering working on during the break. As you can see, quite a few new coding projects.
Too Many Roles?
At times I wonder if I’m trying to do too many things at once. My background might be a little unique (or maybe not), but I still wonder how many folks out there are trying to juggle being a Web Designer, Web Developer, and a Content Author all at the same time. Maybe it’s more manageable for someone that just has a single site or blog. I imagine that having 6+ sites and 4 blogs that are frequently begging for attention doesn’t help matters, but with someone that has so many different interests and so much to share, I have a hard time picking just one.
For now, I just continue the struggle with it. Like everything else, there are good days and bad ones. When I get on a really good roll with content and posting on my blogs, it is one heck of a feeling. The other extreme is getting burned out on writing and not feeling like doing either coding or content. I guess that perfect balance is out there somewhere, and if I ever get it down to a science and prove it can be done in a way that scales to multiple sites, I’ll try to write it down.