Making Design Accessible for All, One Blog Post a Day

A photo of Geffrey van der Bos in the forest. The green really matches his personal branding. And his surname.

How I Optimize Writing A Blog Post Daily (Tips and Tools)

Everyone that has ever started a blog knows how difficult it is to make writing a habit.

I knew I had to come up with a way that would allow me to write fast and efficient. This is how I approach it:

  1. Today’s topic is chosen the night before. This helps my brain go over the things I want to share. In the morning I’ll let my thoughts go during my morning routine.
  2. When that is done, I open iA Writer on my 6th gen iPad with Logitech keyboard. In there I jot down my premise and outline. (Note: I haven’t turned off my nightly Do Not Disturb mode on any of my devices.)
  3. Because I do not want to be late for work, I write everything that comes to mind on that topic. I do not do any editing during this.
  4. After work, I take time to edit the post. To remove any redundancy. Additionally, I try to apply an active voice in my writing.
  5. I run it through when I am somewhat satisfied with what I've written to get rid of spelling issues.
  6. The last step is that I put it up for preview and check how it looks on the blog itself. It's easy to copy from iA Writer because this blog running on Grav CMS takes Markdown.

This is my checklist for every post. I don't publish anything before I have a 'yes' or 'close enough' on these items:

  • Is the content what my readers like to read?
  • Is it written in a language the reader uses?
  • Is the value proposition near the beginning?
  • Is the article skim and scan proof? (Does it include bullet points, lists, or images?)
  • Are the paragraphs short enough to engage readers?
  • Does the content flow logically from one point to the next?
  • Does the article link out to other ideas and related topics?

I am currently reading-up on Ken Davis and his SCORR method. A way of effective communicating. Michael Hyatt sparked my interest when he mentioned he uses it for his blog in Platform. Expect a post on that.😁

Thank you again for reading and see you tomorrow!

Ps. Ken Davis and Michael Hyatt look like these typical snake-oil 'speaking' gurus. Hyatt specifically has a very actionable, down-to-earth book called Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. No snake oil. I recommend it.

Blog Update: Quality of Life Improvements

As the blog grows, the more time I allow myself to work on it. This is a quick blog related post.

Today I've improved the blog with several quality of life features:

  1. The articles now show an estimate of how much time you need to read it.
  2. Pagination at the bottom that ensures not too many articles get loaded at once.
  3. Long form article support.
  4. An actual footer with some secondary links.
  5. An about page! Hopefully clearly stating my plans with this blog.

About the long form article: I will need to write longer, 'more valuable' content if I ever want to hit high up on the search machines. I am currently actively exploring keywords and topics that I can chase after. Nothing really changes for you but a button that says "Read article" instead of displaying the whole post on the homepage. :)

Hope you are having a great weekend so far! See you in tomorrow's newsletter.

Finding the Right Balance Between Creative and Effective Design

People think of 'design' as expensive and simply pretty objects. Yet, we also all know the saying: “Form follows function” (coined by architect Louis Sullivan).

Where the line between creativeness and effectiveness lies, is hard to tell.

In its basics, design is about coming up with a lot of ideas, testing those ideas, and eventually finding a solution that solves a need of the end-user most effectively.

When simplified: the creativity of design can be found in both the first step and the last step of the design cycle.

In the first step, we'd need to generate ideas that might solve our problem. For this brainstorm we need to be as open and creative as possible. Anything goes until we've tested it.

Understandably, the creativity in this step is often limited by the commercial side of business. You can not go on brainstorming and testing forever.

In the last step, creativity comes in to explore the look and feel of the product. (Which also affects the potential of the design!)

Unless you get to decide, this step has other constraints like the client's corporate colours and typefaces.

In a perfect design process effectiveness and creativity are not opposites. Creativity is a way to get effective. That, crudely said, is what makes it design and not art.

Yet, perfect processes are hard to come by. And then striking the balance between creative and effective work depends on the real-life constraints (budget, time, technology, people, etc.) we have to work with.

Most projects expect great performing design with as little creativity possible. Which always leaves me with the 'what if?'.

Websites Loading Could Speed Up 7x With This

A new method has been introduced that can help reduce the time to load a website by 50% or more! It could be one of the most impactful new ways of displaying pages on the internet.

It only works in the Chromium project for now. The project that is used to make Google's Chrome internet browser. It might come to us the common people, once all developers have agreed. Mozilla, the makers of the internet browser Firefox, believe the method to be 'prototype worthy'.

The 'content-visibility' property allows web makers to tell the browser what to skip when displaying a website the first time it loads. That means that the computer does not need to calculate what is not immediately visible (e.g. you need to scroll down for it).

It might speed up the web significantly in the future. That's very exciting.

Source: content-visibility: the new CSS property that boosts your rendering performance

Picking a Niche and the Success of This Blog

I've been reading several books on writing a successful blog, good personal brand and everything in between. (Zak Slayback's How To Get Ahead and Platform by Michael Hyatt are definite highlights.)

They are all practically the same strategy. I'll summarize them:

  1. Set a goal for yourself.
  2. Pick a niche target audience.
  3. Satisfy a proven need of this audience.
  4. Write a message/story you want to keep repeating.
  5. Be consistent and keep going.

That is why I have decided –after long thought– to focus on making the design industry accessible for all. Demystifying designer news, processes, and provide commentary on industry trends from the perspective of a layman.

This means my target group are people that see the benefit of design, but don't feel the need to understand it deeply.

The business owners that want results, but don't have time to plough through design books.

The good people from non-profits, that are looking for understanding what they can do to improve their fundraising.

My objective with this blog will be to defeat 'designer protectionism', and making design free trade again.

If that sounds great to you, don't hestitate to sign up for the newsletter.

Find Similar Websites to the One You Like

I wanted to give you a cool trick I use occasionally.

Google allows you to search for related websites to the one you entered.

All you do is use the related: keyword followed by the URL of the original website.

Google Search Bar Related Searches has a comparable function, although it seems only the first five results show. Unless you sign up for their service.