Make yourself a website
Table of contents
The same way as I can’t imagine living in a space designed and decorated by someone else based off a generic pattern, I can’t imagine my words and my work exist solely in the conformist and reductive spaces that are current day social media apps. When making this website I craved the freedom that I felt when I first started interacting and making stuff on the web as a kid. This place was wonderful, an infinite interconnected array of niche websites with fascinating content and stories, a true autonomous zone, containing within itself the knowledge on how to create itself.
During my early experiments in building websites and forums I spent a lot of time inspecting the code of other websites I liked, stealing little bits of html and css and mashing them together in this creative assemblage that took life on my screen.
Then came adulthood and getting a job. At that point I had been messing around on the web for quite a while and everyone was looking for a “web person” to make their small business website. I learned Wordpress, made my own theme base and started spurting out copies of it with slightly different branding applied on top for my clients. The more I made websites that way the less I could feel that sense of freedom and wonder that I use to see as a foundational part of the web as a kid. It all become hollow and meaningless.
Up until I joined the Merveilles community again and rediscovered that web. The wild web of weird personal websites, webrings and wikis . Not only did it brought back that creativity and inspiration to create on the web in a more personal manner, I also realized that this corner of the web, even if it had shrunk since my childhood, had developed some new branches: digital gardens , websites built like a flow of thoughts or list of links , free-form websites , and explored new considerations: low-bandwidth and highly accessible websites, energy-aware websites , net art , and more. I’m still discovering new interesting websites by the day through talking with people on mastodon and going down link rabbit holes and then I keep up to date with them through the use of a RSS feed reader, an old piece of technology that gives me what those social media timelines should, The latest from the websites and people I care about.
So, all that story to tell you: make yourself a website, start small, you’ll need a text editor and some knowledge of HTML and CSS . I recognize that I’m quite privileged to have known a simpler and easier to grasp web and probably a lot of the people who might read that will have trouble imagining what it looks like. I’ve included a list of interesting websites to give you ideas, I really recommend right-clicking on them and clicking on the “inspect” option, you can see the building blocks of all websites that way. Otherwise, don’t bother looking into static site builders until your website has grown enough that manually uploading your files becomes too much work. Stay away from design trends articles and the big blogs, instead spend time with yourself and the code and figure out what a website means to you. And as soon as you can, put it out there and link it to other websites.
Want to read more about this side of the web, I got you covered:
My website is a shifting house next to a river of knowledge. What could yours be? - a beautiful and inspiring essay on what website can look like
“But on a more communal level, I suspect that cultures of digital detox — in >suggesting that the online world is inherently corrupting and cannot be >improved — discourage us from seeking alternative models for what the internet >could look like.”
– Lauren Collee, from https://reallifemag.com/the-great-offline/
A list of interesting websites to get lost in:
- My friend Devine’s wiki
- Clement Scott’s wiki
- Buster Benson’s wiki
- Thomasorus’s website
- Gordon Brander patterns
- Tom Critchlow’s digital garden
- A digital pillow fort
- This one is almost a game, it’s fascinating
- Fragment scenario
- Mineral existence
- Novov’s website
- One of my favorite clothing brand’s website, worth to explore
- Sunday sites, a good place to get started
- A list of magical script fonts, I mean how cool is this
Practical knowledge to get you started:
- A cool webzine on how to make a website from scratch
- Getting started with HTML
- Getting started with CSS
- A visual reference for CSS
- HTML tips from Thomasorus
- Neocities - a hosting platform for small sites with a built-in editor in the style of the geocities of yore
- Host a website on glitch - a simple hosting platform for static websites, also has a built-in editor
- Deploying a static site on digital ocean - i feel this is still over-complicated for beginners, i’ll try to find the equivalent of what I had as a teen: logging on my friend’s server with ftp and dumping my files
- Lichen, a tiny CMS
- Deux fleurx, datacenter-less hosting services using old computers in homes