Over the nearly six years that INS has been online, notes like this never fail to set my teeth on edge:

A few people have linked me to this site, and it makes me happy. (: It could use layout updates, though.

I know that comments like that aren’t meant maliciously, but that doesn’t mean that they still don’t piss me off.

Back in the halcyon days of 2003, my ambition far exceeded my code-writing capabilities. Those that carp about the layout now should have seen it then, because it looked like shit. Purple lettering on a bright yellow background, stories cascading into each other … basically the work of someone who didn’t have even rudimentary HTML skills. I actually bought one of those “HTML For Dummies” books and read it, then started playing. The site underwent its first major overhaul about six months after it went online, with the color scheme it has now but a different layout. Last year I updated it again to the current format. To me, it serves its purpose-the buttons get you where you need to go and it’s readable. Over the years I had a few people write me offering their web design services. Almost to a man (woman?) when I wrote back saying “show me what you got” I never heard from them again. A few months ago a nice guy actually sent me a new layout. I wasn’t crazy about the color scheme but I figured again, I could play with it. A couple of months ago I sent him an e-mail about a technical issue. Guess what? Haven’t heard from him.

No, I’m not the Grandmaster Web Designer. I’m sure that there’s plenty of people out there who know way more than I do. However, despite the presence of the Real World Job I don’t have an extra four hundred bucks lying around to pay a professional designer to hook me up with nifty graphics and Flash pages. Everything you see on INS I’ve generally done myself. INS was never intended to be a “professional” site. Compared to a lot of “homemade” sites I like to think it doesn’t look that bad, particularly considering its ugly beginnings. I prefer content over presentation. If you’re the other way, don’t read the site. That simple.