Stuff & Nonsense product and website design

It’s been twenty years since I rolled out the welcome mat and started blogging at Stuff & Nonsense

I missed the exact date, but a few days ago, my blog turned 20. I’m not up there with Jeffrey or Jeremy, who’ve blogged consistently for even longer—I neglected my blog for periods of time, and posting was often irregular—but still, here we are. It’s twenty years since my first post.

Honestly, I started this blog because I wanted to do what other people I admired were doing. Before conferences and social media, those of us who were interested in standards-based design interacted by leaving comments on each other’s blogs, and I wanted to join in.

I rolled out the welcome mat on May 13th 2004, with a design which was inspired by vintage scooter adverts. The colour palette was sepia-toned and included images I cut from magazine advertisements.

All that Malarkey vintage design 2004
All that Malarkey vintage design 2004

I wrote about whatever came to mind. Sometimes it was design, development, or standards-related, like the post about creating colour palettes which became one of my earliest popular posts. I shared how I approached explaining web standards to non-technical clients using the Web Standards Trifle and I tried to make sense of more complex aspects of CSS with CSS Specificity Wars.

All that Malarkey vintage design 2004
All that Malarkey vintage design 2004

The more I shared and the more widely my blog was read, the more opportunities I had to participate in other things. My first article for A List Apart—which at the time was the go-to resource for web standards design—was about a CSS style-switching technique I’d developed with James Edwards. I fulfilled another ambition by having my design for the CSS Zen Garden accepted. Then, I was asked to join the Web Standards Project and went on to redesign their website.

All this lead to me speaking at the first European web standards conference in 2005 and again in 2006. I went on to speak at every @media conference in the UK and the USA, and I was the only person to do that.

At the first @media in 2005, I nervously spoke about my design project for Disney Store UK which was the first major e-commerce store in the world developed with standards-based XHTML and CSS. On my blog, I documented the process over a series of posts.

All that Malarkey vintage design 2004
All that Malarkey vintage design 2004

When I was asked by New Internationalist magazine to redesign their website, I did it in the open by blogging every day and sharing my process and progress.

But, it wasn’t always about work. I wrote openly about my struggles with mental health and had fun. One of my personal favourite series was when I created Arno Zimmerman, a fictitious agent who emailed web designers and asked to buy their domain names. Arno asked Jeremy Keith to sell his domain for Adactio Pour Domme, a perfume brand. He asked Paul Scrivens, who, at the time, ran the Nine Rules blogging network, to sell the domain for a biblical epic movie about a young Moses. And there were plenty more hilarious exchanges.

All that Malarkey vintage design 2004
All that Malarkey vintage design 2004

Shit happened in 2006, and for reasons I’d rather forget, I deleted my blog. Fortunately, MoveableType created static versions of my earliest blog entries, which I’ve archived and stripped back over time. There’s now an archive of all those old posts, complete with the original comments.

What’s interesting is how few of the URLs belonging to people who used to comment regularly are still active. Take the post about Adactio Pour Domme. There’s not a single commenter URL that now links to an active website. I find that incredible.

Twenty years ago, I had no idea what writing this blog would lead to. So what about the next few years? What’s going to happen to this blog? Well, I have every intention of posting more regularly about things that interest me. Some will be about work; others might be about films, music, or life. I want to go back to how I used to post and be less precious and more flexible with my writing.

The Insights and Inspiration newsletter is another way to reach people and social media where currently, Mastodon is my platform of choice.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this blog, I’ve recreated how the home page and a few choice posts looked when I launched it in 2004. It’s not a pixel-perfect recreation, but it will give you an idea of how the design used to look.

Written by Andy Clarke who tagged this with news

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