The Future of Personal Websites: How to Stay Ahead of the Curve
This month 👾 Notion alternatives | Unconventional product advice | Personal website inspiration | Mind blowing tech + loads more…
🆕 Personal Updates
When is the last time you considered your consumption vs the amount you create? if you could split consumption vs creation into a ratio what would be it? I would guess most folk are wildly towards consumption. I certainly am. If I was guessing I would be 70:30 consumption. I can’t imagine many people have an inverted ratio tilting towards creation. But what if you challenged yourself for just one month? What results might you see with this one-month challenge?
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Right, let’s get to it - time for this month’s roundup 👇
🔥 Top post last month: Build a No-Code AI App in Minutes
Meet your new AI-powered workspace
🤝 AI Your tasks. Meet your new AI-powered workspace: collaborate with your team and accomplish your goals with Height and Copilot.
✅ Lay out your projects in the visual style that works best for you, and then kickstart your tasks by letting Copilot brainstorm with you or answer any questions you may have in chat.
🚀 Height is the central hub for collaborative work, and now that Copilot can do things like suggest subtasks and prevent duplicate tasks, your workspace will be more organized than ever before.
🔮 Save time and amp up cross-functional work with Copilot Standups, the automated way to get updates about members of your team.
The unconventional approach to building products
Adam Juldelson is a two-time founder and spent 7 years at a pretty controversial company called Palantir Technologies. He’s a first principles thinker, meaning he gets to the core of what is true multiple layers beneath the surface of the problem. To that effect, he pretty much challenges most conventional and traditional approaches to building software products. Let’s start with speaking to your users. Nope, instead spend time working with users in their day-to-day and discover their challenges and help them unlock abilities they couldn’t before. That doesn’t sound too wild right? Well, what if I told you some of these users are in the military and in some cases on the front line in war zones, interested now? What about hiring salespeople to sell software? nope, they have the engineers do the sales. Now for the cherry on the cake, he went against the holly grail of building software products - minimal viable products (MVPs) and instead ditched lightweight validation methods and jumped straight into design then engineering and testing. If only Eric Ries was reading this! It’s certainly not the typical approach, but it’s not a typical software product. Despite that, I’m sure you will walk away after reading this with something worth trying, I certainly did.
The three kinds of leverage that anchor effective strategies
Jason Cohen believes you should leverage strengths – not “fix weaknesses” in order to create a successful business. Easy to say, harder to convince others of this strategy when we are hardwired to overcome weaknesses. However, given it’s Jason it’s certainly worth considering given he’s a 4-time founder with two unicorns and two exits under his belt.
A great quote by Warren Buffet summarises Jason’s point so eloquently:
“How do you beat Bobby Fischer? Play him at anything but chess”
Take, for example, Netflix pivoting to streaming. Snap with disappearing messages in a uniquely simple interface. The iPhone and its unparalleled design. Tesla solving both performance and safety for EVs. Google’s PageRank algorithm being an order of magnitude better than anything else. The story is always about how the company was amazing at one or two specific things. The story isn’t about the 47 complex details that all added up. Companies should focus on their strengths and create leverage through them, to differentiate and make them durable. Forget about your weaknesses for a minute!
Personal websites are a self-expression of your identity. Whether you know it or not, most of us have a personal brand. When you Google yourself, what pops up? The results are the first impressions people will have of you. This goes for your socials as well. The question is, do you want to allow your online reputation to take on a life of its own or do you want to control the narrative? I believe creating a personal brand is more important than ever!
Platforms like LinkedIn don’t work for people in the creative industry. They don’t allow you to define your page design or layout and lacks personality and character.
Every now and again I discover some incredible personal websites and add them to my growing Notion list. This month I want to highlight some of my favourites to inspire you.
First up is Kyle Turman’s stunning custom built personal site which is littered with fantastic little details to discover. The colour palettes and custom fonts work so well together and create a modern retro feel.
Next up is Daniel Fosco and his interactive whiteboard-themed personal site which allows you to play around with the site by moving all the elements around the canvas. He also allows you to draw using a marker and snap all the elements back to a grid. You wouldn’t know he works at Miro eh!
Critiquing AI Startup Websites
I love a website roast. You get to sit back and watch others share their first impressions of a site in real time while picking up a bunch of advice and tips in the process in relation to design, product positioning and copywriting. In this video, Y Combinator President and CEO Garry Tan break down what’s working (and what’s not) on the websites of five different AI startups in YCs latest cohort.
Fun fact, 35% of Y Combinator’s latest cohort is AI-focused, and 50% use AI in their business.
How I used Midjourney to design a brand identity
Matty Brownell shares his experiment with AI image generation to produce unique graphics for a brand identity and discovered useful insights, tips and hacks along the way. He suggests using AI to automate mundane tasks and to quickly communicate brand ideas to clients.
The more I use tools such as Midjourney the more aware am I of how important the refinement process is. To get the desired output you need to bring creative ideas, understand how to use the tool and continue to iterate until you get the desired output. After following this step to step guide I picked up a bunch of helpful tips, including using an AI image enlarger to upscale artwork I have been creating for our house.
Anytype | Decentralised Notion Alternative
Like me, I know a lot of readers are huge fans of Notion. However, with a $10b valuation and over 30m users, it’s got a target on its back. Microsoft decided they wanted a piece of the action and set out to build an almost complete clone of Notion and launched Loop quietly in March this year. However, there is also another contender called Anytype looking to build upon Notion's success with the hope they can double down on some of the missing Notion features users are looking for.
From what I can see, one of their main USPs is their local first approach, which provides true offline usage, unlike Notion. It also flaunts privacy as a key factor to consider switching, with e2e encryption with your data stored and synced on your local p2p network. For the most part, the interface and user experience are pretty much identical so there isn’t an annoying learning curve to climb. Lastly, the Open Graph visual is pretty neat, allowing you to see all the different pages that are interlinked or connected which is something offered by a lot of productivity tools.
However, despite all the above, I’m personally sticking with Notion. The features offered aren’t enough for me to consider switching. Notion is continuing to ship new and improved features pretty consistently and has the cash flow to stick around for some time to come.
Just a few issues ago I shared a post calling out the death of the open startup, but I’m going to contradict that post with the launch of the Indie Page. It’s basically a jazzier version of Linktree for Indie makers to showcase their side projects and businesses. You can include everything you build, your apps, your revenue, in one simple link to add to your bio.
I’ve seen a few attempts of this in the past but it seems a few heavy hitters have signed up, including names such as Arvid Kahl, Marc Lou and Stephane Bounmy. Even if you don’t fancy using the product, it’s a great resource to explore and see how others are making money online.
AI research assistant
In my opinion, conducting user research is a fundamental requirement to create user-centric products that solve real problems for users and increase your product's chances of success. However, it’s not as straightforward as speaking to a couple of people or some Googling. There is a process and contrary to some, it’s an ongoing process. In my experience, it’s a tricky process to fit into a demanding product delivery cycles with limited resources if you’re a small team or individual.
As Josh Davey points out, we can either continue to fight the losing battle to streamline existing research methods or instead, find an entire step-change in how we execute user research.
This brings me to Validly, an AI research assistant using autonomous agents to conduct user interviews product creators and teams. Admittedly, I have yet to try the product, however, I do love the concept of being able to conduct hundreds of interviews simultaneously, 24/7 and unsupervised while I sleep. But one problem that has yet to be solved is the challenge to recruit people to interview at scale.
🎁 Bonus content: AI or die: ushering in a new era of user research
👾 Friends of Creator Club
This month I want to give a shout-out toand his newsletter . I’ve been a reader for at least the past year and love his obscure finds from the fringes of the internet. This guy has a nose for sniffing out the latest hardware and software products, vintage sites and just generally cool internet stuff.
Beta Directory | Discover the latest tech products
This month’s latest early access beta products brought to you by Beta Directory are:
Cosmos: A Pinterest alternative for creatives.
Runway: The finance platform you don't hate.
Magic: Software that builds software.
🐽 Other links to consume
This month I will leave you with the original Puma RS-Computer running shoe from 1986. These are the world’s first smart shoes and as you can imagine this isn’t for the average Joe looking for a casual pair of sneakers. At a time, when running was still called jogging, Puma was looking to revolutionise the way athletes were training opening unprecedented ways for them to improve quickly. They included a custom-designed computer chip built into the heel that automatically recorded the time, distance and calories expended and could communicate the results once connected to any Apple IIE, Commodore 64 using a 16-pin cord.
And for any other Casio-type folk out there, Puma released 88 pairs of their remastered version back in 2018 if you fancy snagging an unboxed pair of retro history.
That’s it for this month!
If you made it this far, hit reply or jump into the comments and tell me what you thought of this newsletter. Was this 🔥 or 🗑. I read every response 👀
Until next the next issue,
Sam | @thisdickie 👨💻