Looking for a good medium

Dec 25, 2012

In The end of history and the last website, a post over on Medium.com — the new online publishing-tool venture of Blogger and Twitter cofounder Ev Williams — Robin Sloan makes an argument against writers designing their own sites, because creating a site to work well and look great on the variety of mobile devices, with their different operating systems and browsers, is tough these days.

So, use Medium, he suggests:

In fact, the whole experience I’ve just described is part of the argument for a site like Medium. That argument goes: No writer should be in the business of making a personal website. They’re hard to find, readers rarely return to them, and besides—let me just contribute this last part myself—they aren’t even fun to make anymore.

So, he suggests, we should use managed systems such as Medium (though only a few have yet to be invited to use the system).

I have no doubt Medium is going to be easy to use, and in that ease, ideas will flow. But I find Sloan’s argument both clarifying and a bit depressing. That’s because I’m still muddling through a redesign of my own, trying to get mistersugar.com to look as sleek as the sites of other writers and bloggers and developers who have simple sites on which they easily stream their ideas. Even Medium is inspiring my design directions, as is Svbtle.com, an invite-only network of bloggers with a back-end system that’s supposed to be fresh and conducive to distraction-free writing.

A few weeks ago, I nearly threw up my ends in redesign defeat, tweeting “At this point, I should just pay a professional.” (By the way, I’ve put my searchable Twitter archive online here.) I may still end up paying a pro to dress my site in a new look, but it’s hard to make that decision, not for the cost but because mistersugar.com exists because I set out in 2000 to learn how to roll my own site, manage my own content and design my own look. I want to be making my own site — I’m using Zurb Foundation framework at the moment — but I also want to use my time most efficiently, and perhaps I’m at the stage of my career, my blogging and my entrepreneurialism that I shouldn’t be spending my time looking through the designs at Themeforest or the typography tips at Codrops.

I also have an idea for a small writers network of my own, a cross between Svbtle and The Magazine. I have the writers, but I’ll need a site design. Given the snail’s pace of the mistersugar.com redesign, it’s clear I can’t accomplish this myself. Time to look for help.

I don’t think we should all just flock to big networks and rely on their tools and designs, if that’s what Sloan was suggesting; maybe he just means writers should find partners in designers or developers who can more efficiently build the single sites, small networks or large communities we need to share ideas and engage in conversations. I’m an early adopter of both Blogger and Twitter, so naturally I want to try Medium. But I also want to reenergize mistersugar.com and continue my blogging for years to come.

Anton Zuiker

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