blogs and blogging

If you need a conference / event / project website, Strikingly might be the option for you

The short version of this post is: if you'd like a clean modern website for your online presence, and aren't looking to do anything too complicated, Strikingly may well be the right choice for you. It's easy to use for both author and viewers of the site, and it's free as long as you don't get TOO much traffic.

Over the past couple of months I've been tinkering around with the website builder Strikingly in spare pockets of time.

I really like the vertical scrolling style websites you can make in Strikingly - I first saw that style when Matt Borg used it for stuff like the UXLibs site. You can use normal navigation to skip to whichever page you like, or you can scroll down and they all appear below the homepage - meaning you never have to load up a new page to explore the website. This long-form one-page style saves time and works well.

Where it doesn't work so well is if you have a lot of complicated information to display on many different subjects - in that setting a traditional website may work better. But if you have just one story to tell Strikingly can do it with an uncluttered, stylish, and very mobile friendly site. For example for a conference, an event, a project, a collaboration, or even a personal website to act as a CV or something for the Googlers to find.

I already have this main website made in Squarespace (which I reviewed here), so in order to have a reason to sign up and play with Strikingly in earnest I built a site for my Training offering. You can find it here if you're interested - the top part looks like this:

Click the pic to open the website in a new window

Click the pic to open the website in a new window

At the moment this feels some way ahead of Blogger and even Wordpress in terms of the interface - it's pleasant to interact with a Strikingly site. You can actually blog using Strikingly, but if you do that and achieve success with it, you're going to exceed the 5GB of bandwidth that comes with the free version of the service. You can upgrade to the 8-or-16 dollar a month packages but I doubt anyone reading this would want to that - so to my eyes, Strikingly is a good option for someone who wants an online presence, perhaps to document some projects you've worked on, an online CV, or to showcase your skills if you're job-hunting, but who doesn't want to commit to blogging. Or, as mentioned, for an event, conference or collaborative project.

The editor looks like this:

As you can see you choose the type of section you want, then edit the content to your own. You edit the actual site - so what you see is truly what you get, rather than there being a seperate Editor interface. This makes it easier to see exactly how the changes you make are going to affect your design.


  • It's fairly fool-proof in terms of making things look nice. You are set up to succeed and would have to out of your way to make a duff site, even if you have no experience of web design or blog-building etc
  • It's very easy to create a site. There are nice templates which are relatively customisable
  • It's free, as long as your site is not too popular! (See below)
  • It's Responsive Design, so everything about your site is retained when viewing it on mobiles - it's just re-ordered to best fit the size of screen. Below is a screen-grab of Preview mode where you can see your site in tablet or phone view:


  • If you exceed 5GB of bandwidth per month, you'll need to upgrade to a paid-for package. There's more on understand bandwidth requirements here but to 5GB ought to be enough unless you're blogging and building an audience. I don't know what my bandwidth usage is anymore as the Squarespace package I have is unlimited, but in my old wordpress days I used between 10 and 20GB a month - had I not been blogging and thus creating traffic I think 5GB would have been more than enough
  • You need a lot of imagery. As with all modern website designs, it's a lot about pictures - so you'll have to use some. There's plenty of inbuilt options to choose from but in making mine I had to hunt around for things which were relevant, and not just stylish for the sake of it
  • Following on from that, all these new website builders (like Squarespace too) are really aimed primarily at start-ups and freelancers; sometimes it feels like an effort to find the options which aren't all about a: the hard sell or b: vaguely trendy lifestyle stuff that may work in a San Franciso web design office but is hard to imagine having any meaning elsewhere
  • It's not THAT flexible - as mentioned above, a more complicated site is better off with a different website builder. The editor is easy to use but a little constraining so you can't micromanage the finer details of how each section is arranged
  • And the usual disclaimer as with any new site-builder - who knows how long the company will be around? Unlike Wordpress which is open-source and sustained by the non-profit community, Strikingly exists as a business, and businesses go under... There's no reason to expect Strikingly to stop existing, but you never know.

So could Strikingly work for you or an enterprise you're involved with? If you do decide to give it a whirl let me know what you make with it.

Some changes to my blog & how I write about librarianship


For a while I've been planning to create a new website, so when my hosting of came up for renewal, I took the plunge and switched over to squarespace. If you're reading this in a feedreader, go to and have a look! I'm also changing focus somewhat.

A subtle change to the blog

The blog is still the main thing people will look at on the site, and this has been cleaned up a little in keeping with the site's revamp, with a less fussy design.

The tagline used to be 'Ideas about Information' - but I've changed it to Ideas about Communication. That's where most of my interests lie now, and although I'll probably write about librarianship, those posts will be about the communication side of that too. Edtech, scholarly comms, social media, marketing, presentation skills - it's all communication in one form or another.

Librarianship is fairly divided at the moment, at least in the online bubble I inhabit, and I find myself in the tricky position of both disagreeing with a lot of what is said and some of the prevailing ideologies, and agreeing that the increasing infighting isn't getting us anywhere. So I'm choosing, for the most part, not to add to the fractious noise.

When I started blogging, in 2009, it felt like a lot more of us were on the same page, and there was a greater harmony. I may, of course, have simply had too small (and like-minded) a network to form a proper overview of the dialogue within the profession, and just missed all the fighting that was happening back then. Either way, things feel a lot more complicated now - like some cliched coming-of-age movie, where the characters grow apart as their lives become more complex. Part of me thinks this is an almost inevitable consequence of the fragmented world social media enables - as more and more of us get online, and find our tribes, those tribes get more and more granular and specific. We're all finding our people, which is great. But as we sub-divide further, consensus becomes ever harder to achieve.

I'm not sure what we can do about that. Everyone is fighting for what they believe in, and it's very difficult to sit back and not challenge things you find troubling (although I've been doing that a lot on Twitter this year, and it's getting easier) - but if there are very different view-points, from lots of people who don't want to leave things unchallenged, inevitably you get a lot of disagreement. And as a lot of people have been saying recently, it's not really helping anything all that much. There have been times in the past where I've wanted to try and change librarianship or libraries per se, and even felt able to (if only on an absolutely minute scale). But I'm not sure if that's a realistic aim at the moment, so why add to the conflict?

As it happens, I do still believe I can help change individual libraries and organisations for the better, especially in the field of communicating well - and I'm happy with that less lofty aim. So I'll stick with that, for the most part, from now on.

Anyway, on to less contentious things!

What's new on the site?

I've added a couple of pages I should have had years ago. There's a Library Marketing Toolkit page linked from the main Publications page, including details of how to order and lots of reviews (some of which I found whilst preparing the page, having not seen them before, which was nice!).








I've also added a Training page to detail the various workshops I run. This has got fairly comprehensive information about the four main types of training (Presentation Skills, Emerging Technologies, Social Media, and Pure Marketing) I do for various organisations, as well as feedback for previous courses in each area. Part of the reason I've not had a proper page like this before is I've not been actively pushing the training - I have a steady stream of freelance work coming in and there's only so much time in which to do it. But for various reasons I'm looking to increase that side of things slightly in the short term, so if you'd like me to run something for your organisation, please get in touch.

The Publications page has been revamped to be a little less messy, and the Events are now split into Past Talks and Upcoming things, that last one now being now much more useful with proper location details including maps, etc.

Where's gone?

All the old links to URLs still work, but I've decided to go with I may blog about this at a later date but basically if I knew in 2009 what I know now, I would have done everything online under my own name... So I'm trying to do that now where possible. Speaking of which:

Where's @theREALwikiman gone?

I've also changed my Twitter name to @ned_potter. The name 'thewikiman' was born out of a) the fact that I orginally set up a blog to document the creation of a wiki (I know! I'm sure there IS a less exciting idea in existence, I just can't think of it right now) so it was relevant for about a month until got bored with writing about a wiki, and b) because I didn't really know anything about online footprints, so thought having a sort of 'nom-de-2.0' was important.

@theREALwikiman came about because '@thewikiman' was already taken on twitter at the time - but what I chose was a ridiculous name, and stupidly long for Twitter. People conversing with me used up most of the available characters just on my username and had hardly any space left for conversation... So, it's dispensed with. I feel like back when I joined Twitter and started blogging I was playing at having an online identity, whereas now I actually have one - and I'd rather it was under my own name.

Why make a new site?

If anyone has read this far down and is interested, the reason for doing this is basically that my website making skills are really limited so I wanted a way to make a nicer, more functional site than I had previously. I designed the old version of the site just writing in raw xhtml, and it was fine, but web publishing has moved on. Only the blog part of the old version worked well on mobiles, and that was adaptive - this whole site has a responsive design, which is the way forward. Try resizing your browser window and you'll see all the elements of the site are retained, just repositioned to suit the adjusted size of the screen. So it works well on all sizes of mobile devices without losing anything - adaptive design means you have a separate mobile version, often with some content stripped away. Anyway, overall I think the whole site feels fresher. I like the fact that the shift in focus of the blog is reflected in a shift in the way the whole site works too.

I loved my old blog but there were so many plugins that constantly needed updating, or which no longer worked, and I paid for hosting costs based on the bandwidth I guessed I'd need, which always stressed me out (previously having had to upgrade when the site went down due to the bandwidth of my old package having been exceeded!) - so I've swapped something which needed a bit of upkeep to something with one package that covers everything in a fairly easy to manage way. I've found squarespace to be very helpful with good support etc, so I'm pleased with it all so far.

The only thing I don't know about carrying over is the blog subscriptions. This is the first post under the new system - I really, really hope I've made it so the old thewikiman blog feed still produces posts, as there are between 1500 and 2000 subscribers to the feed - I know that these days that doesn't mean all those people are actually reading the posts, of course! But I'd prefer to keep them as subscribers than have to start afresh. So if you're reading this in a feedreader then can you let me know via a tweet or something?

And if you're reading this in a reader then woohoo, it worked!



Blogs Still Work, and other stuff I learned in 2010

Picture of thewikiman logo in the snow Here's a summary of some things I learned in 2010.

1. It's not what you know, or even who you know - it's the fact that you're willing to step up and share the knowledge

I've said before, the great thing about all the technology floating around the net right now is that it enables you to do stuff for yourself. Why wait for someone else to come up with the same idea, or to act on yours? You don't need any seniority, or even any money - just ideas and a will to put the time into making them happen.

On a similar note, you don't have to be particularly expert on something to talk about it, or write about it, or create it. You just have to stick your head above the parapit and be visible and a bit determined.

2. Blogs still work

2010 has been great and much of the good stuff seems to revolve around having a blog. The blog is like the sun and all the other opportunities that come up are like the planets - they get their light from the blog. The blog is like the conduit, or the gate-way, for cool stuff.

Since I started blogging a year and a half ago, I've read many articles claiming blogs are dead or dying. Those accused of man-slaughtering the medium include micro-blogging particularly, and also more visual stuff like Tumblr and video-blogging. I can see the arguments FOR those media, but I don't neccessarily think those same points are arguments AGAINST traditional blogs. Blogs allow context, space to let ideas develop, and they allow you to give a fuller account of yourself.

More than that though, for me this blog is the route of the opportunities that have come my way. People only know to ask you to do things like write articles or books, or present at events, if they know who you are, what you're doing, and what your views are. A blog is a great way to ensure this is the case, and to synthesise and anchor all your social media presences.

3. Make one thing happen for yourself, and five things will happen TO you with pretty much no effort on your part whatsoever...

I'm amazed at how many opportunities come to you once you've made a few for yourself. Once you set the boulder rolling down the hill, it gathers momentum on its own.

4. There is no divide between new professionals and senior professionals, not really

I've heard a lot of talk of such a divide, but in my experience we all work together pretty well. Of course, they are people (in both camps) who are difficult to deal with and don't want to work with the other camp, but that's just down to the personalities of individuals.

We really do need to be able to work together to change, move forward and indeed protect this profession of ours.

5. In the social media age, we all grow up in public - may as well get used to it, and embrace the journey

I am not fully formed as a professional. I make mistakes, I make errors of judgement, I do things I look back on with embarassment. I learn all the time. I approach things differently now to how I did in Janurary. I worry. I feel vulnerability that I try not to show. Like most people, I fret when I shouldn't. There's still part of me that puts gaining a follower on Twitter down to pure happenstance, and puts losing one down to some grave error in the way I've conducted myself.

Part of me would like to show more vulnerability but at the same time, someone who comes across as confident tends to get more stuff done. I want people to listen to me - I believe in my ideas, whatever periodic crises of confidence I may have about my approach or myself or the way I'm perceieved. So I try as far as possible to come across as fully formed.

That said, if you embrace social media fully than inevitably people get to know a lot about your process as well as your results. And actually I quite like that. I like how human we all know each other to be, because we reveal this online. I actually feel like the people who went through all their journies before social media arrived have missed out, in a way.

6. Babies are ace!

No review of 2010 for me would be complete without reference to far and away the most significant thing that happened to me, and has ever happened to me. Emily Alexandra Potter is, quite literally, the best thing ever. I never knew babies were so much FUN!

Picture of me and Em