Websites and complexity

A few days ago I was thinking about how to set up a website. I am a web developer so for me, setting up a website is not a hard task. I know my way around servers and domains and CMS configurations but I never stopped to think about how this whole process is for someone who doesn't know anything about it.

If you ask me what's the simplest way to set up a personal site I'd probably don't know what to answer. That's because building a website these days is a game of tradeoffs and compromises.

Most people will tell you that you can build your site yourself using WordPress. Grab a theme, slap a few plugins and you're done. That's certainly a possibility. Would I recommend it? Probably not. WordPress is not inherently bad but is not exactly "good" either. It's easy to use on the surface and that comes at a cost.

Another option is to go with a completely hosted solution like Squarespace or Wix or one of the other site builders out there. They'll take care of everything for you but you're giving up ownership of your site. You can't grab your site and take it somewhere else in the future. You're getting a "site as a service". Is that bad? Is that good? I don't know.

I'd personally never use a service to build a website but I see the appeal of not having to deal with servers and domains and DNS and configurations and all that crap.

At the same time though, it makes me kinda sad to see people giving up ownership of their web presence. Personal websites are a mirror of the human beings behind them. Some are elegant, some are brutal, some are complex, some are simple and that's the beauty of it. Right now people are sharing their thoughts and moments on social media platforms that are anonymous and bland and uninspiring.

Can you tell who these 4 Twitter profiles belong to?

But I get why people are doing it. Setting up a Twitter profile costs nothing and takes 2 minutes. Same is true for an Instagram profile or a Facebook one. Maybe this is a problem worth solving because I think more people should have a personal site and the current "barrier of entry" is not helping anyone.