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Ask HN: What are some great personal blogs/portfolios?
308 points by buildlove on Feb 8, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 114 comments
I've been considering creating a personal website where I can post software projects I've done and write blog posts about them. I've found a couple inspirational engineers that produce a lot of interesting projects and content on their personal pages, but I'm sure there's a ton of people who have great blogs that I've never heard of.

Who are some of your favorites?

At the risk of sounding pompous. I really like my portfolio site: [link redacted]

Why? I built it for myself. Not for what I thought recruiters/employers wanted to see. I simply wanted a place to collect some of the projects I work on. And more importantly one that captured my personality a bit. It's not perfect, I look at it and see a ton things I'd refactor. But it get's people to laugh or start a conversation about something I've done. That to me makes it all worth it.

My $0.02: Don't build a portfolio site because you think you need one, build one if it serves a purpose for you. i.e. learning a new skill, organizing your work, or just having fun. I think the results are much more interesting that way. (Also, don't be afraid to iterate. I think this is the 5th one I've attempted to make)

"I'm a javascript developer. What did you expect to see here without Javascript enabled?". Instant whitelist!

I got a completely blank page running Firefox + uMatrix with no scripts running.

[link redacted]

Sorry, you have to file an issue. Please read the issues guidelines before submitting :) </tongue-in-cheek-humor>

Nice and clean. I like it. There are so many fancy sites and bootstraps but finally in the end, if you have coded it and it can last next 10 years without a major change to the site design and you can focus on adding content to the site. That's a win.

I am working on my site http://www.bobbydreamer.com

Got side tracked and built this, a note taking app. https://Stash.bobbydreamer.com

It's still in development.

As a non-coder it feels like the learning curve for building a website portfolio is super high - even though I am told by coders that it is not. Could anyone lend some guidance on where to start?

There is an overwhelming amount of info out there on how to build websites. But in reality, it all boils down to three things:

1. HTML: Where you tag the content of your website. ( paragraphs, titles )

2. CSS: Where you define style of your website. (font colors, etc.)

3. Javascript: Where you define the functionality of your website. (i.e. what should happen when a button is clicked?)

For me that was the aha! moment. Everything else was just noise. Yes there is a learning curve, but it isn't all that bad if you ignore the noise.

I would recommend against all of the "Learn everything you need" type courses. and just focus on these three courses:

* https://www.codecademy.com/learn/learn-html

* https://www.codecademy.com/learn/learn-css

* https://www.codecademy.com/learn/introduction-to-javascript

That is how I started.

I mean, if you really want the easy way out, just pay Squarespace or another WSIWYG website builder. That's what a lot of my artist and photographer friends use.

That's what I was going to suggest. If you're a non-coder who needs a portfolio site, you already have a body of work ready to show. Put that up on a Squarespace site with a nice template instead of wasting time going through HTML/CSS video courses to create one from scratch.

If you're genuinely interested in building from the ground up, definitely go ahead. But if that's not really your goal, you will almost certainly be disappointed with your first site. HTML/CSS courses don't cover design (typography, element spacing, color palettes), so you'll look at your site, you'll know it's ugly but you won't know why. And you won't want to put it online, thereby wasting even more time.

Don't do that. Let your work speak for you, and don't feel embarrassed about using a template. Your audience cares about the quality of your content only, they will be completely oblivious to what is happening behind the scenes.

> As a non-coder it feels like the learning curve for building a website portfolio is super high - even though I am told by coders that it is not.

It is not high if you don't try to reinvent the wheel. Fortunately, you can build upon generous people's work. Using frameworks is fine unless you end up using things you don't need. There is still a learning curve, of course, because you need to learn where to look for answers. But building a portfolio site is indeed not that complicated.

Non-coder here, I started with WordPress, spent a lot of time learning how to code my own theme. Then I ditched it, learned the basics about how Git works, set up a static site using Jekyll, styled it with Tachyons. Then I added a gallery functionality and a few custom tweaks, just looking things up as I went. My site is now way simpler to maintain and faster. What took hours to look up and fix now seems easy.

Putting your portfolio site together yourself is time well spent.

Perhaps just start. Not on coding, but on content. Coding facilitates, but a lot of people have already spent a lot of time coding things already. My own 'portfolio' is a wiki, looks neither pretty nor ugly, at least to me, with a heck of a lot of text, about things that interest me. Wiki because of a realisation that chronological order didn't seem to make sense to a body of work that can be added to constantly.

Bro it's so amazing and unexpected. Great work and creativity.

Thank you for this. Made my day :)

My blog joelx.com is fun for me and has thirteen years of posts chronicling my transition from employee to founder /CEO of a 130 employee company.

What's it like being a developer in the Philadelphia area? That's near my hometown but I have a tough time searching around there.

It's different, but not bad once you establish yourself... really helps to have a network. Speaking of which.. if you're nearby come join us and say hello! [link redacted]

I love the books page - borrowing that idea.

I like the "hello" button. :) The font weight of the body text is almost painfully light though.

could you explain how you're implementing the goodreads part of your site? i'd love to add something similar to my portfolio. Thanks!

Looks like he's just wrapping the GoodReads RSS feed in his GraphQL server: https://github.com/jefflombard/jefflombard.com-v4/blob/maste...


i like the design ., but the small font really annoys me, atleast one size big would be better!

Highly recommend patio11's site and blog: https://www.kalzumeus.com/

His post on salary negotiation should be mandatory reading for all software engineers: https://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

Not only his site, but his comment history is also a gold mine too.


He has helped countless people by giving great advice. I'd really suggest reading his "You Can Probably Stand To Charge More" posts. This should be essential reading for any contractors. This personally helped me double my income.

Read here:

https://www.kalzumeus.com/2006/08/14/you-can-probably-stand-..., https://www.kalzumeus.com/2015/05/01/talking-about-money/, and https://training.kalzumeus.com/newsletters/archive/consultin...

Thanks, that made my morning!

Honestly, thank you! Just checked my email. I chatted with you all the way back on Oct 17-22, 2014!

I had missed this gem of a post. "Put in $1 then to get the ball rolling, and we’ll circle back to this later.” - How could I have not said something simple like this in my previous negotiations :) Baller of a post.

Great post, thanks!

Julia Evans' blog is one of my favorites: https://jvns.ca/

Seconded. Julia's blog looks nice, has great explanations, and did a LOT for me as a junior developer about feeling confident in all the things that I didn't know at the time but was excited to learn.

awesome to see she makes programming zines too

Here are some relatively lesser known blogs that I can recommend, apart from the usual suspects (worrydream, John Baez etc.)





And yeah I finally decided to inject some character into my personal website and spent a couple of days wrangling with css and made this --- http://linkdot.link . Not much content really though and it is mostly probability puzzles that I solve every now and then.

Edit: Formatting

Hey, just went on your site with firefox and the content was outside the screen. After digging into it a bit I found that you use "transform: scale(1.3)" on the body. It seems like firefox is positioning the element with its original dimensions and then scales the element. "transform-origin: 0 0" fixed it for me.

Thanks a ton for letting me know about it and sharing the fix as well. Fixed it now. Will spend sometime soon and sort the other Firefox issues that I discovered as well.


Love your site - ty for sharing.

Just checked your personal website. So glad to have stumbled upon it. Been a while since I've some come across something so refreshing. Thank you!

You're welcome and I'm glad you loved it.


https://blog.jessfraz.com/ is my favorite depiction of pure passion for software. Deep dives, home hacking, intros to topics… Jess is great

My favorite is http://worrydream.com/

Here's a twitter thread containing some 'quirky' personal websites, not quite portfolios though.


I'm on the same boat, here are some UX Designers portfolios that I found interesting and bookmarked. Even if it's a different profession, you may find inspiration there:






I burst out laughing while reflecting on how good the Tobias van Schneider design is. The use of typography is absolutely marvelous. Thanks for sharing!

The page design is absolutely amazing, although its weight is 33MB.

Which makes me think, where do we draw the line in terms of web page size? What's acceptable as of 2019? Also considering mobile?

> Which makes me think, where do we draw the line in terms of web page size?

We look at the business case. TVS' website would be a disaster if it was targeted at the general public, with millions of hits each day. But it's not. His work on Spotify however does have to be optimized for that audience.

His personal site however can be whatever. It's showcased on industry sites like awwwards.com and the like, and those sites are all form, no function. In this environment, Pretty = useful, because it makes his work more noticeable, which is good for getting consulting work.

I don't know if his site is getting a hug of death but it took almost 50sec (16sec DOMContentLoaded) to be completely finished loading. It's a beautiful site though.

Jeff Atwood's blog is great and still (very infrequently) updated.


Probably one of the most unique designs for a personal blog I have ever seen (the animated page headers, page transitions, and a lot of genuinely great articles and talks): https://acko.net

Wittens' posts on culture in tech and the rise of postmodernism are especially important. Storms and Teacups is excellent, and I'm pleased to see he has a more recent one too.



Do a quick search here on Designer News: https://www.designernews.co/ (it’s like HN but more design focused). They have hundreds of posts of amazing portfolios and personal sites. You’ll get a ton of inspiration there.

I really enjoy Drew DeVault's blog: https://drewdevault.com

Dan Luu is really great. [1]. He also has a "list of programming blogs" which lead me to find even more interesting ones [2].

[1] https://danluu.com/

[2] https://danluu.com/programming-blogs/

I highly recommend Nayuki's site: https://www.nayuki.io/

Lots of content (made mostly for themselves), but the writing style is pretty nice and there's a large variety of projects.

https://flaviocopes.com/ should be here too

Thank you for the mention!

I'm a fan of Patrick Collison's blog: https://patrickcollison.com/

And I use my personal site (https://www.mdolon.com/) for sharing projects and writing, the design is based on a free Jekyll theme that I've customized. You're welcome to build on it if you'd like: https://github.com/mdolon/mdolon.github.io/

Following @jefflombardjr example, I would like to share an example of my personal website: https://lukaszkups.net .

Why do I like it? Because I've literally built it by myself from scratch - starting on design (all the graphics, even the map in experience tab) to the static site generation tool that I use to manage content (will release it soon as my first truly open source project).

Btw. Any feedback will be highly appreciated.

Like the multicolored texts in the homepage. Good Colors choice. I like bright Colors but if you are going to be seeing it a lot better to go with Colors that doesn't spoil the eyes and page designs get darker over time.

The OG https://joshuadavis.com/

Not engineering, but poetry. Circa 2004. I thought it was so novel back in the day. Maintain a site just to self publish ;)


This portfolio showcase page doesn't contain software project blog posts per se but has a lot of solid designer portfolio examples that might be interesting to check out: https://www.semplice.com/showcase

This one is from my coworker. One of the best engineers I have ever worked with. It amazes me how they can be so productive at work and be so prolific with this blog. It goes back a log time.


Ask and ye shall receive...self promos! My blog is a smattering of personal development and increasingly more about content strategy as I try to find a niche.




To my own surprise, it was through writing that I landed gigs in UX, UI and content strategy, and now parlayed into a full time content strategy job.

Looks great. Super solid palette. I like the raw markdown colored. Keep writing - you're doing good.

Oh man - love the bullshit stories section! Great stuff.

I revamped my portfolio/freelance page recently if anyone wants to borrow any ideas from it or has any feedback:


I tried to get all the important details on a single page and isolate the tech jargon to appeal to non-technical clients. I personally found and had non-technical friends agree with me that a lot of developer portfolios focused too much on the tech (e.g. "I'm a Node developer who loves React!") or go into too much detail about project specifics so I tried to avoid that.

This looks great. You're spot on with the feedback you've received about technical jargon and I think you've struck a great balance.

I like the single page and I think the content fits nicely. But, I'd be lost with more content on a single page—in terms of navigation and keeping a mental model of what I've seen.

Whooa did you see this guy's website: http://sakibccr.com/ This is awesome! (Just kidding. It doesn't contain anything yet.)

But this is a really nice website: https://mango.pdf.zone/ Especially this post: https://mango.pdf.zone/operation-luigi-how-i-hacked-my-frien...

I'll throw my hat into the ring: http://ivanish.ca

What makes my site interesting is that.. I work in web dev and graphics, so I got to have some fun combining the two for my portfolio. I'd love to see more programmers taking advantage of web technologies to make their portfolios more visually interesting, and playful.

As much as Flash caused headaches and was a thorn in the side of the open web, there sure were a lot more interesting portfolio sites in the Flash days than there are now.

Thanks for creating this fun thread!

If self-promotion is allowed in this context, I'd like to suggest my own website as a good example: https://barrowclift.me

I love it. My minimalistic blog is build using pandoc. Would it bother you if I plagiarized your blog styles.

Some interesting hardware sites I have come across. No nonsense, interesting content, etc

http://www.electricstuff.co.uk/ http://omeganaught.com/ http://krazerlasers.com/ http://www.etotheipiplusone.net/

i’ve been looking to rediscover a particular tech blog for a while. It’s formatted to look like it was written in LaTeX. i think it’s even two-column but i can’t recall.

unrelatedly, eric lippert always has fun stuff. “Wizards and Warriors” a five part series was a revelation: https://ericlippert.com/2015/04/27/wizards-and-warriors-part...

I've been following Robert Heaton's blog for a while: https://robertheaton.com/

I'll also post my own site, which I do a lot of personal technical blogging on - https://www.jvt.me


I'm going to go the other way with my comment and ask for feedback on my portfolio page.


Please feel free to email feedback to the contact info on my page or post it here. Thank you in advance.

(Edited to add that I'm a hardware product designer, providing mechanical and systems engineering services for medical devices and other mission critical hardware)

Here were my first impressions: - It is very gray. The blog looks much better with it's white space.

- I don't get what the shopping cart is for.

- The header isn't centered.

- The font is very heavy feeling.

- I like the contact page. I feel like that should be your main page, with the side bar links moved to be across the top of the page.

I'd also like to get feedback on my personal website: https://raemond.com

I built my personal website using Google Docs. https://navchatterji.com/. This was a fun weekend experiment where the aim was to build a quick, usable website (in this case a blog) and host it without having to type in a single line of HTML/CSS or terminal command. The instructions on how I made it is near the bottom.

Dan Abramov's is very good: https://overreacted.io/

Derek Sivers has a great blog: https://sivers.org/blog

Not really great but in a hope someone might think it is, this is one is mine: https://diessi.ca Built it myself, I am a Front-end Developer anyway.

Began writing about programming but honestly now I just write about whatever I want. Last post was about my sensory depravation experience so I expect anything.

I've been blogging about my life as a software engineer, dad, husband, entrepreneur, and now (new!) youtube vlogger for a long time. blogging 18 years, actually: http://john.do/

my hope is to simply share what i'm working on and share how those things are actually working.

I'm going through these and reviewing some here: https://www.kickscondor.com/hrefhunt/. Love it when these threads come up. Keep posting - even if this post is days old, I'll look at all of it.

It's finished, but the prog21 archives have some real gems: https://prog21.dadgum.com

I also recently read through Eevee's blog and greatly enjoyed it: https://eev.ee

I really like http://hergert.me/

I recommend Sam Altman's blog. Especially his post about productivity: http://blog.samaltman.com/productivity

Everytime I want to do something meaningful, I think about Sam Altman and I feel inspired.

dan wang. he wrote why so few people major in CS. interesting dude. https://danwang.co/

bill gurley, investor http://abovethecrowd.com/

I discovered Dan Wang through Tyler Cowen's Marginal Revolution Blog (a great blog for folks with omnivorous interests).

Dan seems to be a deep thinker (philosophy major). He doesn't write about engineering so much, but what he does write about he goes deep.

that's exactly how I found him... Did you major in Econ or something?

Not really. I have no econ background at all but I still find Tyler's blog interesting.

That's great to hear! I always thought only econ people read that blog. Did you find stratechery through MR yet? If not...Ben Thompson is worth a read for sure.

I've known about Stratechery for some time. I understand the content is very good, but my interests aren't quite in that space.

Fabrice Bellard: https://bellard.org/

For non-software projects: Tatjana J. van Vark http://tatjavanvark.nl/projects.html

Hey personally love this one. It is colourful and expresses my skills and experience in an Amazon way https://uicard.io/products/hugo-uilite/


My own website. I use medium as it is easy write on. Also, I don't need to hustle with template, UI, etc. Pardon me since I didn't update the content for like 2 years.

I found this quite fun, not sure if it still works.


Great Ask HN. I plan on looking through all the links here for ideas.

I just restarted my blog after a few years away: http://larrywright.me - feedback appreciated.


I'm uploading my mind into my wiki, and so, of course, I like my wiki in general.

Shameless self promotion https://vankessel.io

Still have work to do on it, but I would love to hear feedback.


Very clear technical writing, mostly about web technologies.

I've long used his site as an inspiration as well. It's just pretty clean and interesting.

If you're interested in PL and blogging, mine night be of use to you.


I run a site focused on a very narrow niche (pricing strategy)... https://taprun.com

Design-oriented: http://draftss.com/portfolio

I am a fan of https://dave.cheney.net/

sharing my blog - http://mandeepjanjua.com

I like to blog about as many things as you come across in life. Because why not? We just don't do only programming

Slate Star Codex: https://slatestarcodex.com/

Martin Shkreli: http://martinshkreli.com/

Casey Muratori: https://caseymuratori.com/

scripting.com by Dave Winer, who pioneered web logs, podcasts, outlining, RSS, et al

matthewrayfield.com is one of my faves. Old-school web with fun tech.

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