So, Junior, You’re Thinking Of Making A Website?
Take a look around at the Internet. What do you see? That’s right…a lot of lameness.
Most websites are lame. No imagination. Most people copy others and offer nothing new. Worse still, they then plaster their sites full with advertising to the point where they’re practically unusable.
But don’t worry…this actually makes it easier to ROCK, when you later attempt to create your own website. Just don’t stoop to their level…
When it comes time to developing a website, one of the essential steps is to just do what you want.
The Results of Not Doing What You Want
Creating websites is a little bit like working as a creative in the advertising industry. (Sorry, that’s what I used to do a long time ago, so I’m going to use that as a comparison.) If you’re an art directory or a copywriter in the ad game, there is one sure way to make a lousy ad: go ahead and intentionally try to make the kind of ad that the client is expecting. Worse still, try to make the kind of ad that you think EVERYONE will like. In the end, you’ll have settled for some watered-down, non-innovative idea that has no creative edge at all. This will be the kind of ad that people will look at and immediately think, “Yup, that looks like an ad all right“.
If, on the other hand, you try to come up with an idea that genuinely appeals to yourself (your own personal, internal genius…the spark of personality that makes you unique as a person), then you have at least a chance at greatness.
You can do what you want to do
You can say what you want to say
You can think what you think you want
It doesn’t matter anyway
It’s not funny anymore
It’s not funny anymore
– Hüsker Du, “It’s Not Funny Anymore”
The same holds true with websites…and, very likely, just about any creative endeavor that you might happen to be involved with.
Do you want a recipe for being lame? Then, try to anticipate the kind of website everyone will like, and go ahead and make it. Or, better still, just copy the idea and/or design of some other websites.
As an example, we went live with the world’s first website devoted to being an online alarm clock back in March, 2006. Since then, literally dozens of people have seen fit to simply copy our basic idea, placing more and more copied, rehashed alarm clock websites online! (Sorry, but you people SUCK !)
Do You Want To Be Even More Lame?
If you want your website to be even more lame, by all means, go for it by over-filling your website with ads, and add tons of features to your website that almost nobody is interested in using anyway, just to show how clever you are.
Reasons Why Feature Glut Is Always A Bad Idea:
- Too many features confuses people.
- More features = more ways that your website can BREAK.
- Simplicity is next to godliness…complexity just looks ugly.
- Our lives are already too complicated. We long for something simple and beautiful.
We don’t care what you think of us, to a certain extent. We still have our day jobs. The Online Clock website is a labor of love. And the fact that we have almost 4 million visitors each month just means that quite a few people tend to agree with us, and think that our website is simply…cool.
Do you know how many people keep telling us that our navigation menu is hard to find? (It’s the small clock icon on the top left.) It doesn’t matter…we just don’t want to clutter up our clocks’ layouts by overburdening them with the typical navigation menu. And, if some people can’t understand that, tough. We’ll do it anyway…
We are not stupid boys
But we want to do it wrong
– Red Kross, “Play My Song”
Life is short, and there is no point putting together websites that aren’t interesting to you, and which simply aren’t interesting. Chances are, if you care at all about your website, you’re going to be putting in many more hours’ work on it than you will ever be rewarded for financially. So, by all means, be sure that you simply enjoy working on it! If you do, your website’s users will sense that it is a labor of love and not just some kind of lame business project.
Chances are, most of your websites will end up being unsuccessful anyway. We know. We’ve made dozens of sites, and we’ve only had a couple that have shown any signs of being successful. But that’s OK because at least we’ve been doing what we want the whole time. And, doing what we want, we won’t fade away…
Eat your heart out on a plastic tray
You don’t do what you want
Then you’ll fade away
– Sex Pistols, “Problems”
But we want to help you avoid the lame trap, which is the real reason for this blog post.
So let Online Clock be Yoda…and you can be Luke, OK?
And we’ll lay down what we feel to be some very valuable tips for webmasters that we’ve amassed over the years.
Online Clock’s Top Ten Tips For Burgeoning Webmasters
- Use Open Source (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP).
- Use the Cloud (Cloud Servers, Content Delivery Networks).
- Purchase your domain separate from your web hosting account and keep it that way.
- Keep it simple. Avoid Feature Glut.
- Only create websites that you can code yourself (no freelancers, no external coders). This way YOU will have full control of it.
- Love your niche.
- Can your mother figure out how to use your website? How about your grandmother? If not, Houston, we have a problem.
- Don’t make your website like you expect a website to be. Do what YOU want.
- Don’t ever expect to make any money from it. Do it because you simply enjoy making websites. That enjoyment will come through to others.
- Keep your day job.
You see that last point about keeping your day job? That’s not a joke. For some reason, musicians seem to take it for granted that they need to have a day job. Actors and actress understand that they will have to put in years and years of waiting on tables while they hone “their craft“. But for some reason, in the Internet game, everyone thinks they’re a big shot, and expects success to come immediately.
You want to create your own start up and get rich in a hurry? Give me a break. Most people are not born to become Mark Zuckerberg in the same way that most people are not born to become Johnny Depp or Jimi Hendrix.
MOST Of Us Are Doomed To Toil Stupidly Away In Obscurity
If you’re a struggling actor, musician or artist, and if you truly love what you do, you can get by just from the satisfaction of getting your work out there, in front of an audience. But for some reason, a lot of jerks in the Internet game don’t feel this way…instead, they think that, as soon as they’ve put a website online, that they’re entitled to a million dollars and getting their photo on the cover of TIME Magazine.
Ever worked at a restaurant in New York City? Every owner of a website should be forced to go through this experience, in order to see how many people with destroyed dreams truly populate this planet. (The actors, the musicians, the artists, the writers…) Maybe then they’ll all become satisfied with the smaller successes in life.
I mean, isn’t it enough, just the fact that, if you do something creative and use websites as your medium (in the same way that an artist may use oil and canvas, for example), you are able to reach an audience of millions and millions?! Think of a struggling actor, just trying to get a handful of people to become part of his audience for the theatrical play he’s written…he’d be happy to have an audience of perhaps thirty people for one showing(!). The fact of the matter is, if you are creative and know how to use the Internet as your medium, then you are very lucky indeed. And it’s high time that every website owner realize this, and treasure it as being one of the wonderful things about making websites.
Once you come up with a great idea for a website, and then build it, be prepared for your idea to be copied a million times over. Go ahead and try (although it’s difficult) to regard this as a compliment.
In the end, if you don’t succeed, you will have at least done it your way.
What’s The Secret Sauce ?
Anyone attempting to creating successful websites will eventually ask himself/herself this question: “What’s the secret sauce?“.
The Secret Sauce = FUN
If you’ve ever created dozens of websites before, only to see most of them linger in obscurity, then this is perhaps the most important question for you. In all of my experience, I would have to say that it all boils down to one thing.
Is your website fun? Does it give people a lift? Does it make their lives a little lighter…does it make them smile, at the very least?
If you ask yourself this question and then honestly answer, “I don’t know,” then you’re doing something wrong.
Time to go back to the drawing board. The drawing bored:
I’m the chairman of the bored,
I’m a lengthy monologue
I’m livin’ like a dog
I bore myself to sleep at night
I bore myself in broad daylight coz
– Iggy Pop, “I’m bored”
So What Do Ya Do, Once You’ve Made It?
They all started out kicking ass and then…decided to relaunch, ruining their original simplicity.
Do you guys remember when Google first came out? It was a white search box on a white background. Brilliant! Somehow, they kept adding all this other stuff…until their beautiful, simple layout became a thing of the past. New functions and new features were added and added and added, and sure, some people certainly enjoyed discovering new stuff on their home page But most people? I would bet that most people just want to use that white search box on the simple white background.
Why in all heck would you take something that’s alarmingly simple and is easy for everyone to use and then just cram it all up with new stuff that no one wants in the first place? What’s up with that?? Wouldn’t it be better to just leave your website alone, pristine, unspoiled, elegant and useful? This is actually one of the reasons why, whenever we want to develop a new feature or function, we make an entirely new clock for it. This way, we can leave our main clock alone…untouched…unaltered.
People love it. So why in the heck would we want to play around with that?
In summary: once you’ve made it and it’s successful, leave it the **** alone.
Our Appeal To You
Don’t be a boring nitwit. Don’t fall in line with the majority. Don’t do what everyone else is doing.
Go on out there, make your mistakes…collect your lumps in the form of creating websites that may never become popular.
But at least…do something interesting.
Swimming in the main stream is such a lame dream…
No method to the madness
– Black Flag, “Beat My Head Against The Wall”
Ahhhhh, I think I’ve said enough. Or even too much.
But I feel better, and I hope that the programmers and developer types who read this will now go on out and…kick ass.