Applying the Art of Less


I wouldn’t exactly call myself a minimalist, but I’ve definitely come to appreciate the measurable mental, physical, and financial benefits of not having to deal with so much stuff. And as you might imagine, I’m also a big fan of data when more is almost always better. So when those two worlds collide interesting things are bound to happen.

I feel like I’ve spent a disproportional amount of energy lately attempting to perfect the Assets section, and with the number of new countries and indices I’ve added to the site over the years it’s no wonder that it never really felt finished. Intelligently sorting and presenting 70+ separate returns series (and growing) is hard enough for me to keep track of and I can only imagine what it looks like to a young investor who discovers the site for the first time.

In the middle of yet another brainstorm where I was stressing about how much work it was going to take to update every asset, I had a moment of numerical clarity and decided to do a quick sanity check and survey the traffic for all of those various asset pages. To absolutely nobody’s surprise, there’s not really a demand for dedicated pages for obscure things like Japanese mid cap growth indices. In fact, the aggregate traffic for all individual assets is about the same order of magnitude as a single portfolio.

Now not everything is about traffic, and I’m more than happy to put in the work on little-read things if it truly helps people. But pageview data can be pretty helpful at identifying areas where you can add the most value, and to be honest I find the numbers to be a huge relief. Clearly that specialized content is not resonating with people and the drudgery of it is no longer sparking joy with me, so let’s KonMari this bad boy and get back to the basics.

Check the top of any page, and you’ll notice that there’s no longer a top-level Asset section at all. As a replacement, I’ve created a new Index Funds page and linked it prominently in the Portfolios section right next to the My Portfolio tool. There are three main functions that the Index Funds page is especially helpful for:

  • Explaining what all of the asset acronyms and definitions mean.
  • Finding an appropriate index fund for your own portfolio. As part of the update, I made a brand new spreadsheet dedicated to fund tickers in every country and even added a few new fund providers like Fidelity and Schwab.
  • Identifying all portfolios that utilize a certain asset type. Personally, I find it really helpful to see first-hand how different professionals use each asset so that I can get new ideas to apply to my own portfolio.

Long-time visitors may notice that all of those features were in the Assets pages, but that’s the beauty of it. You can think of the Index Funds page as a one-stop-shop for all asset questions in one really good summary rather than hundreds of small and repetitive links. I also like how it keeps the high-level focus on the portfolios rather than getting too deep into the weeds right off the bat, as I think it will make the site even more approachable for new investors. It’s a rare case where an update makes the end product more intuitive for the user and a lot easier for the engineer, so I’m pretty excited about the results. Sometimes the simplest solutions are simply better.

As always, I reserve the right to completely change my mind at some point in the future. If you feel strongly about it one way or the other, please let me know! But in the meantime, I have to admit it feels pretty rewarding to stare at the tidy new digs with less weight on my shoulders and lots of opportunities for new innovations.

If you ever wanted to browse the Assets section but just felt overwhelmed, please take a moment to try the new Index Funds page. It’s a lot simpler, and I think you’ll like it.

Does Portfolio Charts spark joy?