The Story of the Portfolio Charts Hat


Have you ever started a relatively small task only to have it quickly spiral out of control?

A few weeks ago I decided that I’d really like to add a Portfolio Charts hat to the product lineup, mostly because I just wanted one for myself. I quickly found that the logo didn’t really lend itself to that type of application.

“No problem! I’ll just make a new logo.”

Well, as Boromir might say, one does not simply make a new logo.

Hundreds of iterations later, I finally had something I really liked. But beyond just looking nice on a hat, it also looked good on other stuff, too. Like, for example, the main website logo. But knowing all of the places I use it, I understood that would it take much more work to get just right.

“Maybe I’ll just take a quick look.”

And countless more iterations later, I finally had something pretty great.

While it may not look like much compared to the effort it took to get there, those three deceptively simple strokes communicate several different ideas core to everything the site is about — portfolios, charts, and a human touch. With the line chart showing blue and green highs and red lows, a construction reminiscent of the portfolio illustrations, and the heart representing finding a portfolio to love, the colors and form all work together to describe the essence of Portfolio Charts without saying a word.

So with that elusive logo finally in hand, I’ll just quickly add a hat to the store… right after I update all of the other shirts. And make a few more. And change all of the website and social media graphics. And finish that Golden Butterfly design I’ve been thinking about. And wait — they have stickers and mugs now? Cool! You know, I could even make collections for other portfolios, too.

Yeah, things escalated quickly.

Fast forward to today, and you may notice several new things at Portfolio Charts. Beyond the fancy new logo, the Products section got a bit of a facelift.

On the practical side, I got productively sidetracked at one point and updated the spreadsheets walkthrough to explain in more detail how to use them with a free Office account. So if you are interested in charting your own investments but not in paying for Excel, it’s definitely worth a read.

Thanks to my design whirlwind, there are also lots of new products available. In addition to the natural offerings like Portfolio Charts gear, certain portfolios like the Golden Butterfly and Pinwheel Portfolio now have dedicated product collections. I finally wore myself out so I stopped there for now, but I plan to eventually use that same framework to make collections for all of the other portfolios as well. If you have a favorite that you’d like for me to prioritize, I’m open to requests.

If all of the extra design effort sounds a little strange for a website primarily about numbers, I understand the confusion. For those who are new to Portfolio Charts and don’t know much about me other than my data-driven investing focus, you may not realize that I’m not your typical spreadsheet-obsessed engineer. I’m really a designer at heart, and many people are surprised to learn that Portfolio Charts is completely created (calculations, code, graphics, articles, and products) by just one person. To say it’s a passion probably doesn’t do it justice, as it’s an outlet for so much creative energy motivated by the mutually beneficial goals of exploring interesting data, designing new things, and helping other people.

So yeah, it’s just a logo. But it’s important to me, and I like to think the idea it represents is valuable to other people, too. For those who do find Portfolio Charts useful, my hope is that a small portion of that passion spills over. Maybe that means buying a shirt or a sticker for a portfolio you are proud to own. Maybe it means making a small donation to help out a fellow fan of asset allocation who dedicates his life to this stuff. Or maybe it’s as simple as spreading the word to friends, family, and coworkers so that others can discover a similar joy in finding a portfolio to love rather than fear. No matter what makes sense to you, do it with a smile.

Now where was I? Oh yeah. If you’re so inclined you can join me in acquiring a hat.

Even if hats aren’t your thing, there are lots of ways to support good data.