From the moment I first browsed the Web I knew I wanted a website of my own. I didn’t know anything about Web programming back then, but I quickly taught myself how to build simple websites. It wasn’t long before I managed to deploy my first website to GeoCities.
I took it offline after an hour or so, because it looked absolutely awful.
Over the next fifteen years I built a lot more websites – each better than its predecessor – but all still suffered the same fate. A few of them managed to survive for a few weeks, but were also taken down once I stopped updating them.
It wasn’t until 2018 that I finally built a website that managed to survive the Great Filter of Personal Websites. You’re looking at that website right now!
Chuniversiteit survived not because it was better: like its predecessors, it didn’t have any content that was worth reading, had a similar basic look, and from a technical perspective it was even worse than its predecessors.
What it did have was posting schedules, which I use to plan what I post and when. They make sure that the website updated regularly and helped it grow into what it is today.
I’ve managed to write and publish , so things definitely could’ve been worse.
I like this website. I find it useful as a personal notebook and reference guide, albeit one that happens to be visible to the entire world. I also like looking at it from time to time, in a way not too dissimilar to the way I sometimes look at my bookcase or my LEGO collection.
A few of my articles do reasonably well in Google, despite the fact that I don’t spend time on link building or any other form of promotion.
The overall number of visits is nothing to write home about though. Even the least interesting articles on the news app/website that I work for have higher daily traffic numbers than all of Chuniversiteit’s pages combined.
I realise that it’s absurd to compare the page views for some rando’s personal website with those for a website of a national news broadcaster, but the benefit-cost ratio still kind of hurts, because it takes a serious amount of time to maintain a website like this; time that I could also spend on other things, like side projects, my thesis, or getting a life.
So, some things definitely could’ve been better. I can’t change the past, but fortunately I can change the future!
Expect some changes in what and how I post later this year:
The Toilet Paper is currently Chuniversiteit’s “main” section. The articles in this section and are mostly useful for myself so that I don’t forget what I’ve read. I don’t particularly enjoy writing them though, because they’re basically just summaries of other people’s work. I hope to spend more time writing about side projects and things that I’ve recently learned next year.
I’ll still schedule posts and projects, but their will no longer be tied to arbitrarily chosen dates that no one really cares about. I hope this makes it more fun to write them.
Each article comes with its own header illustration. They’re an important part of the look and feel of this website and most of the time they’re fun to make. But they also take a lot of time to make, which is especially problematic for simple articles that take little time to write, but can’t be published until they have an illustration. I’ll need to look for ways to lower the “cost” of (some of) these illustrations.
Chuniversiteit uses a , is written in the Netherlands and has a lot of visitors from the Netherlands, but virtually all of its content is written in English. Since most of my visitors are from countries that are not the Netherlands, this is not going to change any time soon. I will however add a Dutch section that’s written entirely in Dutch, about things that might be interesting to Dutch people.
Most of my articles are primarily written for myself, so I currently don’t promote or crosspost them. That’s going to change.
Later this year I’ll also build some additional features that didn’t make it into the original MVP:
This website originally launched without search functionality, because it didn’t have that much content yet. It does now, so it’s time for a search engine that I can deploy “statically” to GitHub Pages as part of this website.
You can’t build a good search engine without an indexer, and once you have a working indexer it’s very easy to build a content-based recommender. I’ll use it to suggest .
Tags make it easier to find and group pages around specific topics that I often write about, like databases or user experience.
I like my websites and apps like I like my
womencars: white. However, I also know that many of you are not psychopaths so I’m planning on adding a dark mode to this website later this year.
Finally, in keeping with the spirit of personal websites from the ’90s that made me fall in love with the World Wide Web I also hope to add some sort of guestbook. I’m not sure how I’m going to do this yet, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.