I loved my old personal Home Page but it was getting too limiting. As a spring-loaded, completely bespoke JavaScript piece, I had to do all the heavy learning and lifting. It forced me to roll all my own features, structured data, tags and mobile architecture.

But as I’ve started writing more articles, it made sense to just move over to a blog format. Enter WordPress. The old site is still online, just moved around a bit. But more importantly, I decided to take a hard look at what worked and didn’t, and take some lessons from that:


I did a card-based layout in 2010 when the card-on-Web thing was just starting to take off. Instead of a plain grid, the cards could stack and flip as if they were piled up, giving a very hand-cranked feeling to it. It was all JavaScript spring-loading and CSS transitions, which was fun to build and play with. I didn’t want elements randomly popping and moving and blinking unless the user wanted them to.


Conceptually, I used the cards to expand and divide the real estate. The logo of the project appears on the front of the card (all but 1 were designed by me) and on the back was a short description. In, fact the card could flip any number of times — an earlier iteration flipped 4 times to show 4 different kinds of info.

By hooking in Google Analytics, I knew what cards people were visually drawn to, which they flipped, which they moved and where, how long they loitered, and which cards they followed off-site.


What did I learn from deploying a very edgy design? There were pros and cons, and in this case, the list was the same on both sides:

Pro: It looked great. It did have a bold, urgent look to it. The logos were crisp and the animation on-target, with an intuitive user experience. Each card only had enough space to get to the point, without embellishment.

Con: It looked great. Until recently, crawlers didn’t read JavaScript properly, so I had to do a bunch of contortions to get the site to index properly.

Pro: There wasn’t anything like it. At least, I couldn’t find anything exactly like it. Similar, yes, the card paradigm has been a ‘thing’ for nearly 30 years, since before the Web. But not done this way.

Con: There wasn’t anything like it. Interestingly, I found you need to slowly creep away from uniformity, it gets better results than starting as the distant the outlier. Sometimes you have to bring your audience along in stages — if you push too far too fast, you just lose them.

Pro: It challenged you to interact with it, and you had to engage to get value. In this case, the medium was definitely part of the message.

Con: It challenged you to interact with it. Biggest lesson: if you’re trying to tell a story, don’t get in the way of your own story. There are places where it’s appropriate to do the slow reveal, and to challenge your audience — but marketing yourself is not one of those times.

So, I’ve left it online, kind of permanently frozen in time in 2017. I may go back and update it by re-activating every card that was ever on the site (there are 8-10 more). I may also clean up and open-source the code.