Brian Rhea Brian Rhea

Bright & Early Podcast

Creating a Memorable Product with Jack McDade of Statamic

Episode Transcript

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Brian: Hey everyone and welcome to bright and early the podcast for people building early-stage startups.

I’m your host Brian Rhea.

I talk to entrepreneurs, product people, designers, and marketing pros to learn what works, what doesn’t, and why; giving you at least one thing to apply to your business first thing tomorrow.

my guest today is Jack McDade the ultimate webmaster Jack is the designer developer and creator of static a laravel based CMS that makes creating and maintaining a website fun again that is not his tagline that is mine he also writes a fantastic newsletter for rebels and dreamers that you can sign up to receive at Jack McDade calm Jack welcome to the show thank you very much I love you tackle I’m totally stealing it well I that’s it’s it was my first introduction to you and your work actually was somebody was talking about getting off of WordPress which my personal site was on WordPress and just it’s become a BMS over the years whatever I don’t I don’t need to slam WordPress too much no but but why not and and and that’s how I heard about static so um and I’m a huge personal fan so for listeners who you familiar with you and your work can you just give this a bit of better background on what you’ve been up to over the past five or so years yeah so I started building static seven years ago actually after kind of coming out of the what is the best CMS for me in my clients sort of world like doing the agency thing then starting my own little freelance one man-to-man shop kind of deal and nothing ever felt right and like nothing’s that the workflow is looking for and I felt like I was spending way more time like configuring and bootstrapping and managing the part of the site that wasn’t the site right like like the DevOps and all of that so I thought all right what if we got rid of all that and just like put everything in version control and can we build a CMS that has the features you expect without a database so you can do everything in your code editor so you could use get to do deployments all that and seven years later the answer is finally as of like six and a half minutes ago yes you can do it like if the last couple years have been really good Stata make is our full-time gig now we’re a free person company okay and and we’re growing like it’s it works we’ve found ways of kind of carving some audience out of like WordPress expats and expression engine expats for people who are coming from other you know platforms that want more control over their you know their structure and their code in their site yep yeah it’s been working so you were a freelance designer and developer having to find ways to work with WordPress or I mean perch Jekyll can I just take some guesses absolutely those all of those yep expression engine was the one I did the most of okay but definitely not exclusively yeah tried it all try to everything alright is that your does that continue to be your target market is freelance designers developers who need to create a custom site for a client that that’s definitely our core audience yeah it’s especially like a bespoke site if you’re looking for a generic theme you want to kind of plop on there fill in the boxes like WordPress does that pretty well I feel like at this point just keep doing that but if you have a custom site that you have a unique design unique personality you don’t know where it’s gonna go you don’t want to rely on 30 different plugins from 30 different add-on developers or plug-in developers to hope that they all talk to each other yes that IMing is a much more like opinionated and efficient platform for that tour that sort of approach yeah I definitely want to get into the add-on if they’re called add-ons first Adamek got to plug the plug-in ecosystem of WordPress I really want to dig into that a little bit later so for now though in the timeline like when when did you when did you go full time on Stata mech and begin to start saying no to client work or do you still do some client work like what’s what’s the balance like for you as a self-employed person who makes money on the Internet yeah yeah recently actually so probably in the last what’s that I say August the last nine or ten months like maybe maybe maybe as much as about year ago was the last time we kind of took a new client project you know how clients go sometimes never really go away but it’s like five minutes so if you’re a client of mine out there you know like I’m not I didn’t delete your website it’s not doing any active work for anybody anymore yeah I took I would say five five years to know if that was even gonna be a possibility and like whit there’s so there’s it’s not just me if it was just me I probably could have done it sooner but I don’t like working alone and I you know I my skill set while I do the full stack thing like the the nitty-gritty architecture stuff is not my specialty so I always wanted to have someone else who kind of slid heavier into the deep code and that would let me slide more to the other direction like the marketing in the design side so if I wanted to do it all I probably could have gone full-time a couple years ago but didn’t want to yeah so who are the other people working on stead emic with you and what’s that what’s the division of responsibilities like yeah Jason Varga yeah he’s in Miami and Jesse Lee is in Canada like near London Ontario and both of them are really really good like laravel PHP view jazz developers you know front-end back-end just you know I take care of all the UI design UX stuff and like that’s kind of like where I own it totally completely but everything else we share responsibility we all do support we all work on the documentation just I like the final visual and written polish always comes through me that’s kind of where I take full ownership yeah and you I mean in your personal work like you are really doing the 80s aesthetic well you’re doing it right when do when did you start to pull that into your design vocabulary I was born in 83 so I would say 1984 19 probably a couple years ago right so maybe maybe I don’t know three or four years ago I really started to lean heavily into it and I think a lot of the way design and fashion really works is it’s a response to whatever is your board of right so we kind of came out of that hyper minimalistic like Swiss design style that’s like big chunky clean fonts on white background and like that okay everything but totally Helvetica all the things and you’re like oh my god there’s no personality left on the Internet there’s nothing it’s like well what if I just dumped a bucket a hot pink and like there’s some palm trees on it maybe some lasers like man then it’ll stand out and I think that that’s the reason why I did it one I’m a huge eighties obviously like I can if there was a podcast who would do six hours of like I don’t know like Cobra Kai theory but yeah I’m on board like come at me but it’s really as a brain decision for the company taking the standard branding into that 80s kind of early 90s like bright bold color stuff it’s it’s a response a way of standing out you need to you need to look different than everybody else for them to even remember you cuz most of the time people come your site you like I don’t know it looks maybe it looks fine looks like everything else and then it takes two or three more times of like someone else saying you really should check out product XYZ like I’ll look at it like I don’t know it looks like products I’m gonna pay like I don’t get it but if it’s that thing you knew you looked at and you come back a second time like oh yeah this is the site which like the friggin animated kitten eyes or whatever it is right like I remember this I remember thinking those interesting but I check it out later now later let’s look at it so it’s like connecting like standing out enough that people remember when they encounter you over and over again and that’s that paid off for us I really think that’s the number one thing that took us from like a part-time side gig to a full-time business was standing out and being memorable in a world where there’s a new product shipping every like since we started recording this is three new JavaScript frameworks and five new content management systems like there’s just the way it is why do you talk about that a little bit more because you’re when you’re your core audience is like developers right so why is it that you why is it you that design became such an important thing or talk a little bit more about why why why you think that that that truly is what helped to set you apart and is responsible for so much of your growth yeah in order to for someone to decide to use you if it’s something if it’s a product that does something you already do right so let’s take like WordPress for an example because everybody knows WordPress in order to use static you need to quit using WordPress okay so you already know how to do it you know all the works you know like what plugins to use assuming you’re a wordpress developer right so if I’m gonna look at something else I need to quit doing what I know and start using something new from the beginning like full learning curve what do I know what do I not know who’s who wants the like who’s the big add-on developer here like who - like who’s trustworthy right and if if there’s no easy way to learn that quickly or into build that trust quickly you just you you just quit you just don’t do it it’s easier to stay with what you know so for me I think that the design and the brand when it stands out enough that you can’t be ignored like you keep encountering it over and over again and the design encourages you to read the content and the content is even more important the design the content holds your attention like oh there’s actually like it’s kind of playful and it’s sort of fun and it’s it’s talking to me as this sounds like me you know like we I do a lot of writing and you know first-person active tense like it’s what it just immediately feels like you’re in it with someone you know and it works like I think it’s super important there’s so much bad content bad design out there you just grabbed bootstrap or some template slap your words in there you throw your you know your six blocks of icons and your feature bullets you’re like tada come use us and that nobody uses you and so you pretend that everybody is using you find someone to write a review and you know hopefully you’ve got a sense of humor about it you’re like everything’s great until they write the blog post like how I almost killed myself by trying you know we’ve all read the blog post and you know I’m not saying design and copywriting fixes at all but if you have a good product and your design is not memorable and your content is lazy it doesn’t matter no like you are gonna have a very hard time getting convincing yes yeah your your document your yeah it’s funny that you mention that about your documentation your documentation is clever and funny it’s it and it is extremely helpful it’s just it’s it seems like it seems like this comes easy to you like flows out of you naturally so do you do you have an advantage there I do I’m not gonna lie yeah just born with it I’m kind of like half kidding it it really is something else most of my life I’ve loved writing yeah I love the English language and finding like clever twists on words not finding more complicated words like that thesaurus more like like combinations of words you haven’t heard and how can I write something without using a cliche like but like every time I read at the end of the day or as a whole or you know those cliches just drive me crazy so every one of those an opportunity every cliche in your content is an opportunity to be interesting or funny if that applies or memorable mm-hmm every time use a cliche it’s a chance for people to forget you to distrust you and to close the tab honestly that is a I was about to say what a great rule of thumb like what a fantastic it’s hard I met her I do this with my fingers in with my what what a splendiferous approach towards a life hacking no sir find something that if that works right and even better if you can reference it later and tie it into it totally it’s it’s really I mean it is true what you’re talking about that it is it is so and I’ve talked about this on this podcast before it is a good thing for the world that the barrier to entry to create something put it online and try to grow a business like that barrier to entry is very very low yes that is a good thing overall I don’t disagree what what it means is that it’s really hard to stand out yes so that’s it feels like yes it’s it’s definitely something that that you have done well with your personal brand static is also doing I mean in terms of like the other content management systems out there for sure you so you um I mean you’ve got the full stack you know quote unicorn saying going like you you’ve got a you’ve got a really great sense of design you’ve designed a ton of levels official properties over the years art direction for lyric on which was so killer and on the development side you have built a content management system so is which which came which came first for you or what’s your first love maybe like is it design or is it putting on headphones for eight hours and getting lost in sure HP phone okay so do you actually have two different questions in there my first love was writing his words storytelling that has always been my first love I wanted to my original goal when I was in high school I could really since I was a kid was to go to film school school I want to get into making movies I want to be a director producer I want to be behind the camera somewhere in the creative seat um I enrolled in film school met a girl put it off put it off didn’t go never never did it never won never happened that once we not have made been part of one movie nothing and it’s a little bit sad I my best attempt to get close to that in college was marketing like marketing is close to advertising advertising is like commercials commercials have cameras cameras maybe I’ll get into a movie said that way I don’t know if you ever wanted to go for marketing I decide it’s not gonna get you a Hollywood no that’s fine it’s been an interesting path and I don’t regret it like it’s been it’s been really great for my family I being this is we’re on a tangent now but I wouldn’t have the time that I have now with my family if I was on the set as some second you know camera guy like whatever be who knows where I did then like maybe it worked out maybe not but I beat you’d be on location you’d be on set unless you were in LA in which case you’re on you know the one on one for two hours day so it’s been a great path but you know I miss telling stories I missed you know putting that out there fast forward a little bit I got into programming before designing so I got into web development as like a way of making money I’ve always been a computer guy so I could figure out like this website thing somebody want a website you know I was working at another job like does anyone know how to like edit this and like oh I could figure it out right yeah and so it was like figured out guy because I feel like everybody who’s like what developers probably it figured out guy or girl right pretty good or else you don’t last that long so yeah that’s kind of one of the things I’m decent at figuring stuff out and sort of got into coding that way lended a job that was like half marketing half front-end development turned into full dev God poached by another company to grow the DEF CON you know def side of the business and so before you know it I’m like are this is my full-time job I’m you know building websites which was fine like it’s cool there’s some video elements I got to use you know my camera sometimes like shot some video for that you know like I’ll make it work you know I’m back on my head like somehow I’m gonna make this jump yeah but at this company I was that that I’ll remain nameless that they didn’t have good designers at all I mean it was like old school print designers that did like the baby could do some stuff for flash because it’s like the early 2000s and so I just every time when these designs came out and I you know I feel like I’ve got a decent eye it’s like you know part of the creative aspect and I’m just would try me nuts I don’t know how to build this why is it an illustrator in 2006 or whatever 7 definitely not the right tool for the job at the time so I’d start taking these designs and I would just redesign them like myself and like fix them and I just wouldn’t tell anybody like who did them like I just put him in like the in like the directories like on the third drive we’d be like final like underscore two and like oh this looks better who did that and like eventually I was like it’s me and they let me design stuff and so that’s how I got into design now to answer both questions which do I prefer I think to me I preferred design because it’s more creative for me like development even though I got pretty good at it I can do a lot of stuff it’s the development side is a means to an end it’s a way of getting the thing I want like on to the internet it is for me it’s not about like the craft I don’t nerd out about you know patterns and you know all that kinda like whichever the right one is I’ll ask somebody like it says so I don’t know a repository pattern or is this a singleton like copy-paste like write my code design is different for me it’s it’s telling the story it’s combining words it’s solving a problem it is it is my movie right like if you hit one of my pages from the top to the bottom I’m hoping you have a certain experience that I’ve designed you know by you know going through the whole thing I don’t know that’s sort of like landed flat but yeah that’s sort of my answer yeah no that’s so you’re you’re clearly you are clearly an artistic an artistic expressive person and so so I want to go back like you mentioned static it’s taken seven years like you started working on in 2012 right yeah so as as part of the like the artistic process of trying to get this thing out into the world people using it loving it it growing was there what was there a point that you thought I’m and I don’t I want to create something and I’m gonna do something but this this isn’t it it’s not it’s not catching on what was it that helped you stick with it or make or made you stick with it uh it’s probably the fact that the previous five things I tried I gave up on and I went damn it if it’s anything it’s this because it’s already sold some right like it was out and that’s like there’s some people I will just keep imposing my will on the Internet until enough people like I will do client work and pay my guys with that money and I will stay up all night and design you know laravel calm and like boom pay my guys with that money I will just keep shoveling coal into this train and the unfortunately the thing that I learned later was if I had actually just focused on it for a while without splitting my focus for such a long period of time it probably would have gone so much faster my if I had either like paused for six months built up some money and then jump back in there’s a lot of ways I could probably have done it a lot faster than like bouncing in and out the way I did but we’re still here doing better than ever having you know more sites launching bigger companies using it better feedback than ever so it’s not not worth it right not yeah yeah yeah yeah so we are I can and I I’m just imagining when you start you start working on this and start building it and I mean surely somebody’s like hey you’re building a PHP based CMS you know you’ve heard of WordPress all right I would always say what what’s that why why would you why would you decide to compete against something with as much market saturation as WordPress and is largely free yeah I’ll answer that question I was gonna say with another question but now I can’t phrase it as one remember when Microsoft had all the computers I’m not gonna compare myself to Steve Jobs please trust me this is not about to happen this is about to be good you know we just kind of assumed that Microsoft would always own all of it and Apple was a thing and next computer thing I’m Linux was a thing but Apple found a way to create an a certain type of user that it was able to attract right and it wasn’t everybody it wasn’t the government’s not at not at first anymore but they had look if you wouldn’t be creative come using Apple hop on a Macintosh and see what you can do that you can’t on on Windows and it’s that idea like that that scrappy version like that doesn’t have a yacht involved in any way that’s like look we’re yeah WordPress is the micro it’s the juggernaut you could totally use it and no one ever got fired for saying let’s just put it on WordPress like that’s a decision right very safe it takes a little bit of boldness to say hey let’s use this thing I can barely pronounce run by three guys that don’t even sit in the same room it doesn’t even have a database like you’re already up against yeah you know the wall on a couple of categories and yet when you do it they’re just I mean I get the emails all the time this is so much fun like this reminds me of when I was building sites now geo cities but like early days like I just wanted to get it online and nobody really cared what it took right it’s that create like it it just strips away all the stuff you don’t need to focus on like all of the 10,000 plugins like it’s most of the stuff you need to built in like we just took care of that and you know we’ve created a product that’s designed for a user that wants to create something from scratch mmm-hmm most of the time with WordPress you’re not totally creating it from scratch thank you you might have a theme or a design or whatever and you sort of work it in and you plug some bolts some stuff on yeah but I would say the bulk of the WordPress sites out there are not from scratch yeah oh yeah I mean the the developer that the developer workflow though for work for building a WordPress site is a colossal pain it is not enjoyable this is this is what this is what is so interesting about your come about static and I I mean is that don’t assume I can get this right the first time it is it is both extremely developer friendly from a technical standpoint but you’re you’re also you’ve made a very strong case for like go all the way in the other direction of developer to like pure branding and like who are you as a as a person are you a WordPress developer or are you a rebel that is a pretty fascinating thing that you’ve that you’re you’ve managed to pull together here because it was that like part of the vision from the beginning or has it emerged as the years have gone on it was always theory it was always the idea and I didn’t always I didn’t always see the story didn’t have the words to describe it at first okay III think you know you get caught up in the product because you have you if you don’t have the product you doesn’t matter how well you market it like they try it and it doesn’t work so at first you’re focused on the product how does it work and you’re really because that’s your big problem you spend all your all your excitement is look at this feature that we built like can you believe it we can do this now and everyone else like you have like WordPress been doing that forever like yeah but there’s no database this time so you know it it took a while to step back just to like say all right I’m excited about features users are excited about features but new people aren’t right Newton like first time people are not so concerned about the new feature we just built because they probably assumed you had it already or else they would have not looked at you they didn’t that you didn’t have like a WYSIWYG or something at one point and so it it in the early days yeah it took a while to come to the point where you can attach the story from the product and because there can they’re still connected right like we are designing this product for this type of person your your your bullet list is different when you’re talking about who you want to be and what you’re building versus how you’re building it so if you go back through and you look at our home pages and stuff at one point it was lots of features like bullet you know bullet lists and yeah and then you know now you look at the site and like the /y page is like hey what is it now and remember it’s been like a week I’m gonna really read you a line or two it’s like why you standing make different shouldn’t I just use WordPress like everybody else does and and I just talk about that like yeah it’s not free but you get what you paid for like yeah it’s there’s no database but because of that you can do all this other stuff like hey you know how can I learn this quickly oh we have these great Doc’s like hey I’m not like like you know what I mean ya know that’s what I had to learn the hard way and if I could go back like or if I ever build another product I I’m gonna be thinking it from that angle versus like what my feature list is or even big like 101 marketing don’t talk about your features talk about the benefits like yeah everybody sees that like so like all that means is use the word enable a lot instead of dies right like I like my product enables you to then it’s the feature we’ve just cleverly added more words that’s all good all good I want to ask you about the that the core the core platform differences are clear yeah what about the surrounding ecosystem and I’m curious what your take on it WordPress WordPress has a big head start and in terms of volume of tools for sure there’s a ton of noise in in their plug-in directory there’s also a lot of valuable tools I’m just I’m I’m curious like what what’s your take on the ecosystem at large and the plug-in directory versus your add-on directory specifically yeah it’s an interesting question because the shape of heart ecosystem does not mirror WordPress’s the things that so the things that static add-ons do tend to be pretty different than the things of a wordpress plugin does so and correct I mean I’m not a big WordPress guy at this point right but like WordPress top plugins are you know I don’t know SEO backups like image sliders like all of that kind of stuff like a lot of like front and focus stuff right like you install the feature and it gives you a thing on the front end of your site right that right yes instead of ik almost all of the add-ons are things that give the developers better control or tools because the front-end is yours like it’s not there’s almost no and possibly none I can’t say that for sure because there’s been so many battles just about not at least add-ons that write markup for you like not like they aren’t like there’s no image slider plug-in that drops image slider and that uses whatever JavaScript library everything is more geared towards like custom field types like better ways of organizing and presenting data to your editor in the control panel or like features that it doesn’t have like maybe e-commerce or you know like comments or something like that so that the difference between that is you know you you as a developer how don’t have to rely on this one plug-in to do your slider you can pick whichever JavaScript library one just follow those basic Doc’s then loop through your images and inject them into it and it works right so you you can you don’t have to hack a plug-in to get something to show up on your site you just implement a library the way that like you would normally without a CMS yeah is that how do you envision it remaining that way I would imagine that will still get blurrier over time and it’s just because of audience size right so more the more people that use it the more efficiencies there could have there could be for building some of those things as people share them between sites does that make sense yeah it does a lot of people use like little snippet libraries and copy and paste them between sites like here’s my like all the configs are in yamo files so you just copy and paste the yanil file into the other site boom all of your fields are set up you’re done that kind of stuff is great we’ll probably start to see more like libraries and recipes and patterns as time goes on we have some of that stuff now but yeah the I mean that the flip side to that is the way that static is built is is significantly different than WordPress so WordPress has the loop right all the contents kind of stored together all in one big blob unless you’re using advanced custom fields which has this other pattern Stata meg is just each entry has whatever fields you would want to attach to it and then you can loop through those fields in your front-end and show the data so you don’t like the building block approach is different you kind of build it up as you go instead of like kind of tearing it apart and pulling it down and because of that pattern there’s a lot of things you can do with our built in field types like if you want to you don’t need to have like an enable sidebar plugin you just create a variable called enable sidebar use a toggle so you can turn on and off and then just do an if enabled sidebar and then put your code in there so since you’re planning on touching your templates those things we get very simple and there’s all that eliminate an entire the thousands of WordPress plugins you don’t you don’t need them they’re just like these really simple like logic switches and stuff yeah yeah I mean we could keep going but like I I would love it to get bigger I’d love to see bigger things and and I think we’re going to see that I know a number of people from other platforms are starting to port add-ons and things to Stata make which is interesting yes is there a that is there an add-on that you’re just like anxiously awaiting someone to to create and show up with anxious I would love there to be a Shopify integration that would be pretty sweet hmm why is the way you say that are you seeing a like what uh because a lot of people want ecommerce and who doesn’t want to sell something and make money like easily on the internet but every like self implementable ecommerce site is like I mean they’re really complicated to build there’s a lot of stuff you have to work out and the Stata make approach to that like give you all these templates and tags and you know all these different things and extra screens it attaches the control panel I’m sure someone will do it like people have tried already people throw that an expression engine and like Kraft has craft commerce and is this big thing it’s like a lot to build I feel like Shopify so I already done it they already have all that stuff like the checkouts all sorted out but people don’t like managing the rest of the site in Shopify they don’t have any control day one right so if you could blur the two like you go to the Shopify to check out but you can just pull your products and stuff into this dynamic site that’d be pretty great I think that’d be best of both worlds yeah other than that I mean everything most of the add-ons are like all integration type stuff like integrate with you know different level packages or integrate with you know convertkit or MailChimp or whatever like that kind of stuff is pretty nice yeah yeah the the primary business model is selling site licenses is that correct is that correct okay do you do you have to spend any time like looking around for people posting your code or distributing it online do you are you worried about that at this point or do you you sell your license and you go on about your day I yeah I used to and I would get all worked up about it or you know you get a Google Alert and I’d see stomach 19.2 cracked annulled and like no and you’d like try and you know find it or whatever I not saying I don’t think about it but we have we have validation built in so it’ll ping home and old you know validate your license and if it’s invalid it’ll say you need to buy a license or insert a valid one and then we get a red flag in our dashboard we can see which sites are like the offending sites and you know every now and then if there’s like I realized it’s the same company with a bunch you know I’ll track them down and but I like the honor system so I know since we’re publicly talking here I don’t want to like let myself be a pushover but I tend to trust people and her it’s PHP you could rip her out like you can take around the code and find it rip it out and then when you update it again you have to rip it out again at some point just buy the license right like how much time are you spending ripping out the validation but should I be obfuscating stuff and using fire files like I don’t know I don’t want it to suck for everybody else mm-hmm and so so far there’s more than enough people who actually pay for it to pay our bills work yep respect the work and if you can’t pay for it I don’t know yeah there’s a place for those people in just a second but this is a great time to pause and let you know that bright and early is brought to you by transistor FM transistor offers you professional podcast hosting and analytics they host this very podcast and listen y’all it just it could not be any easier product is ridiculously easy to use if you’ve got a question Justin and John the guys behind the software are super responsive I’ve needed to reach out a time or two for some help they were all over it so if you’re thinking about starting a podcast for your business just pop on over to transistor fm and let them know that Brian said yeah okay Stata makes statics rich article editor is called Bard mm-hmm what why is it called bar Jack this feels like a leading question because I’m a big D&D; nerd yeah I okay oh I just started playing Dungeons & Dragons for the first time in my life seriously like a month and a half ago tonight in fact I’m going to my third ever venture can we talk about this instead of static I feel like everyone’s already bored they you know this story or we’ve already sold them were scared at this yes we are we are in the wind down now so we can just talk about Dungeons and Dragons yet so tonight is my third ever time to play like a really good friend of mine and you know invited me several times it never worked out and then like finally a month and a half ago I was able to show up for a one-shot and I I’m so hooked what is what is your background like when did you first start playing playing D&D; yeah yeah I so the first time I played D&D; it was probably like 1990 I don’t know 92 93 or so I didn’t even know that’s what it was called I had a buddy from California Dave Lewis I’ve tried to find him for about 20 years now so if he’s listening this I’d be great let’s do it Internet come on Dave Lewis remember when you taught me to love D&D; but you called it that game in my head it would come visit my neighbors from California and like weed weed nerd out watch beavis and butt-head play Secret of Mana on Super Nintendo and like play this game and that was in his head that was Dungeons and Dragons right yeah so you’d have the stat sheet if you’d like tell a story and it was like the coolest thing ever like I had never heard of anything before we had like a Christian family and at that time like banana panic exactly nobody wanted to touch it with a 10-foot stick yeah and you know now evolved like we’ve come around realizes is what you make it it is only what you make it and so yeah I got back into it honestly it’s right after stranger things right I think that’s probably everybody like yes D&D; that’s what we’re missing that’s what yeah and so I immediately like after that first episode of like oh this is happening like I bought books I call all my friends like dude doing this for playing and they’re like that sounds great I don’t have the time like ldm let’s do this and you’ve been playing like I’ve been DMing like this can’t phase one over two years now it’s been online no like friends locally here okay yeah it’s there’s definitely there’s definitely distresses going on I mean I say this is somebody who’s only like I had the total I had the completely wrong impression of what Dungeons & Dragons is yes yeah yeah definitely though the way out the way I described it to my to my wife who was like wait I’m sorry you’re you’re you’re doing what it’s like hey listen trending to be a goblin actually a furball druid no it’s like have you ever been to a murder-mystery dinner like isn’t that so much fun to do that for a couple of hours that’s a blast right okay that’s like a really really good movie dungeon dragons is like play playing eight seasons of The West Wing it’s like a series that just goes on anyway I is there you also you run like you have like a little side project like Dungeon Master’s Academy right but that’s like if there it is there any part of you that is like huh is there is there a way to like take part in this resurgence and use your use your skill over like your skills and passion in a way may I’ve thought a lot about that and I’ve put some effort into different ideas and they just haven’t panned out yeah so I built my own site and you know it gets like I don’t know six or seven thousand visits a month which is not a small thing for a site that I was like five posts on it yeah but it’s hard to make like I don’t need a hundred times as much to make some of the money back and it’s you know it’s just for fun it’s for the things like that I’ve learned for myself that I want to remember I put on there and you know is it fun design like I really think it’s a cool it is I mean there’s a lot of hot pink but it works like I really think that it works and like that TV setting yeah yeah I I love it and I just I don’t think any play in that universe is going to pay back the time it’ll take to get there compared to other things and so for me it’s just for fun I love it I love playing with my friends only after we moved to Florida get it like a nerdy group going down there or play online you know on skype or whatever we had yeah some things just need to remain a creative outlet yeah I think that’s pretty fair right now ya know and on that so on that note of of creative Aly you’ve kind of you’ve liked is relaunched your newsletter is like that a fair way to describe it or like I don’t think I ever had a personal one before okay yeah so you anybody listening seriously Jack Metacom / newsletter it’s like what’s the is it purely creative expression or is it part like I want to I need to grow the audience that will grow static like what’s your what’s your thought process there yeah there’s there’s really no static angle on it at all yeah it is mostly a creative expression but I feel like there’s things like I I really believe in in mentoring and teaching especially younger people and they’re for whatever reason there’s a lot of young developers that follow me on Twitter like Miguel Pedro pizza and Luigi I can’t pronounce his last name and they’re you know there’s a number of guys that just kind of like lap up every you know they’re they’re at where I could see myself in them like I remember when they were I was that age and trying to figure stuff out and you know I not that I control who is reading this and I don’t need to but I feel like there’s stuff that I have learned that I’ve got a pretty good grip on that I want to share and this is how I’m doing it right now I you know what usually happens and you probably know this feeling is you’re like I want to write so I’m gonna I’m gonna blog you know I’m going right but I don’t like my blog so I’m gonna redesign and rebuild my blog on cool new platform and by the time you’re done you don’t have any time left to right and so it’s it’s until your next redesign you never right so I’m halfway through a site redesign and I like where it’s going but there’s some things I got to work out and I don’t have a lot of time so I’m just writing I don’t want to put it up on the current blog because I don’t like it and I’m just gonna do a newsletter maybe some of these emails will eventually become posts or articles maybe they won’t but in the meantime yeah I guess you grow a little bit of an audience I’m not trying to bike so anything I just just sharing still like basically kind of the idea is there’s a story from my life and I connect that to a teachable moment and I’m gonna try to make you laugh at least once like that’s that’s like my template it’s pretty broad and I feel like I could write about just about anything and somehow make it fit that I you know I as a homeschooled work for yourself you know reject the corporate world I feel a bit like a rebel and I think that my way of doing stuff is not always the right way but may have enough of a good idea in that that if I share them someone can take advantage of it so that’s pretty much that’s the idea my guest today has been Jack Mike day Jack thanks so much for joining me man thank you for having me [Music] all right let’s do some closing thoughts here I really enjoyed listening to Jack talk about design and his passion for that and for creating a memorable brand the way that he’s done with his personal brand and with Stata make it just it just we talked about it a little bit how naturally it comes for him at least the way that he’s doing it comes naturally because he’s sort of found his voice and his vocabulary visual and actual word words vocabulary and it just makes so much sense that’s his best strategy for finding a way to stand out and finding a way for him and for twitten for his product to be memorable and the way that he I like the bit where he was talking about how if someone’s going to if somebody’s going to try your thing and they’re they have to quit doing something else there’s some there’s something that they’re currently using even if it’s not it’s an exact match the way that static and WordPress are an exact match there is something else that they are using or hiring to get that thing done for them and so in order for them to try your thing out you have to quit that and it can’t it can’t be one-for-one trade people like their habits way too much and so it’s got to be has to be five times better in some sort of way five times more delightful five times easier to use five times cheaper for the same features and I’m not going to say five times the features for the same price I think that’s a losing strategy but it has to be five times you know better in some sort of way and the successful way that that Jack has done this with static is just it’s it’s five times easier to use at least then WordPress and it’s just so much more delightful to be a static user I mean I was speaking from like personal experience here and it’s what I the kind of the way that I brought it up in in the interview that he has on a you know had a scaled-down version done this done a similar and he didn’t want to compare himself to Steve Jobs but there’s at least a comparison to the way that Apple has branded themselves you know compared to other types of PCs that you could use that that’s that’s you know the kind of the same vibe you know that I think that he wants to create amongst a demyx users is you don’t want to be a wordpress developer do you you want to you know be close to the code you want to build things from scratch you want to be a rebel and I think it’s he’s doing that very very effectively it’s it’s inspirational it’s inspiring to me I I really really liked hearing that come out in the things that the Jack was saying so yeah seriously recommend that you follow along with what he’s what he’s doing let’s see I love that line every cliche and your writing is an opportunity to do something memorable instead like whatever what a great what a great guy principle to keep in mind go through your landing page makes me want to go back through my old newsletters or all the you know articles that I’ve written and and you know find cliches or it be something pretty cool for grammarly to head wouldn’t it like hey this is a cliche do something fun here instead that that that’s interesting I I just I like that as a as a principle back in art school they would our teachers would have us like you’re you know however many you know however far into a painting or a drawing and it’d have us always do two things one was to turn it upside down literally like rotate the canvas 180 degrees and that was to kind of help you just get a sense for the composition itself and it would you would it just makes it easier to look at the the forms and the shapes you’re not seeing the subjects the other thing that that one of my drawing teachers were always a painting teacher actually would always have us do is if you got if you’re not 80% of the way done and there was one particular piece of the painting that she were just really attached to for whatever reason then she would say just paint over it and redo it you’ll get you’ll get too attached to it there’s something there’s something about that too that’s like don’t don’t get so attached to cliches and things that you know things that are just kind of coming out or that you’re getting attached to or whatever go back through your writing and you know turn it upside down as it were or find a piece of it that you’re getting a little bit too attached to and rethink it and see if there’s something that you can do to make it a little bit more memorable instead like that as a principal for a landing page for an application anything and everything that’s that’s just great but so and another thing is this reminds me a whole lot about from the conversation with Liana patch several several episodes ago like you just you have to be memorable and special now there’s just so much out there and and you have to find a way to stand apart so the the advice liked to take away from this interview with Jack to say hey you got to make your product memorable and so use flashy 80s nostalgia art and funny like documentation that’s that his bad advice because that’s not you or maybe it is then go for it but that’s Jack so it’s not to saying this is this is what has worked this is how Jack McDade has made himself memorable and different and special so do that it’s what is the thing that you do so well that it feels like play to you and it looks like work to everyone else maybe you’re obsessed with customer service and you love talking to people and you’re just a helper at heart that it it might may feel weird to you to learn that there are people out there who get annoyed when they have to help somebody else but you’re just obsessed with customer service and so you know what yeah you can have a templated site that looks a lot like every other landing page out there but you have ridiculously memorable customer service that is you and it would be worth interviewing you about why you are so obsessively great at customer service or maybe you’re a developer who has always loved documentation and you love well-written well-formatted absolutely perfect documentation well your app can have the best developer Docs in the world and developers will love you and they won’t care that your site is not does not stand out in terms of visual design I think I think that’s the thing be memorable be special but to do that you can’t act you have got to know yourself and be yourself so find the thing that comes naturally to you what feels like play looks like work to everyone else so I would love to know what you think though what what stood out to you in this particular episode anything else always means a lot to hear from those of you who are enjoying the show let me know what you like what could be better and how I can make it yeah I can make it better for you this is your show I wanted to want it to help you out you can find me on Twitter I am B Rea that is BR h EAB is in barbarian our isn’t rogue H isn’t halfling II as an elf and pay as in Archer thanks for listening and we’ll 54:45 talk to you next week