Over the past few weeks I was hit with a double whammy of bad news. First, the company that manages my online store stopped paying all creators for an extended period of time. Then on the morning I expected to see my most recent long-overdue payment, I instead learned that the same company also paused all digital download sales without warning. So pretty much overnight, the Portfolio Charts store that I’ve spent years thinking about and months getting up and running went up in smoke.
How has your week been? Because mine has been something else.
One of the important lessons I learned early on as a young engineer is that it’s important to pay attention to the small things. Your assembly design may indeed be truly impressive, but if the seams between parts don’t properly align it will give the impression of poor craftsmanship. Is it sculpted perfectly for the hands? Nice! But if it’s made with flimsy materials it will still feel cheap. Details matter.
That trained fixation on the small things can also have its downsides. For example, where I spend hours experimenting with just the right layout for a spreadsheet, I also understand that when something complicated is done really well the end result can sometimes be so transparent that it occasionally goes unnoticed. From the well-executed finish of a part to the dew drops on a dandelion, just because something is beautiful doesn’t mean it’s obvious to everyone.
So after spending quite a bit of time working on several relatively small site features, I thought it might be helpful to bring them to everyone’s attention. They may be minor but they’re still useful!
I love it when small ideas take root and grow.
February is upon us, which generally means two things — it’s cold outside, and final December data has finally arrived. On top of a few extra numbers, however, I’ve been particularly busy the last few weeks and have a flurry of site updates to keep you warm. So pour a cup of coffee and settle in for a comfy day.
The holiday season may be over, but before you settle back into old routines there’s one last gift left to unwrap. The portfolio data for 2021 has arrived! Every chart now has an extra year of information to survey, and there are also a few data tweaks that should improve the quality of the entire history.
While most of us are thinking about Halloween costumes this time of year, retailers are frantically planning for the holiday shopping season. Looming supply chain issues may be the topics making headlines, but retail never sleeps and both manufacturers and merchants alike are busy creating display strategies for each available item.
Every company wants to show their product in the best light to help potential customers choose it over other options. From compelling specs that stand out in the crowd to a well-organized display that keeps people engaged, marketing teams have lots of tried-and-true techniques to capture customer attention. No matter whether we’re talking toys, jewelry, or perfectly pressed shirts, presentation really does make a difference.
In that same merchandising mindset, I just completed an overhaul of the Portfolios section with a focus on presentation. The goal is to offer much more information in an organized way so that portfolio shoppers can better understand each option and navigate their way to one that best meets their needs. So without further ado, let’s go through an example to see what the new portfolio profiles can do for you.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Do you hear that?
No, it’s not the old bathroom faucet driving you crazy by breaking the nighttime silence. If only it was that simple! One inexpensive gasket would fix that right up, but this is something much more insidious.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
It’s the sound of your portfolio leaking thousands of dollars a year.
It’s hard to believe that Portfolio Charts just turned six years old! It seems like only yesterday that I was first toying with a few personal spreadsheets and experimenting with ways to share them online, and I never imagined that those humble beginnings would eventually grow to everything you see today. Time really flies when you’re in the flow.
For lots of bloggers, the greatest challenge to sustained success is the finite number of good ideas worth writing about. I consider myself lucky, as portfolio theory is an under-served space with tons of avenues to explore, new data to uncover, and a constantly-evolving market for inspiration. If anything, I occasionally have a bit of the opposite problem where my pile of investing thoughts may be interesting as a whole but individual ideas don’t always rise to a post-worthy level.
To address that situation, I’ve decided to finally get with the times and try my hand at Instagram. It’s a nice medium for this kind of thing, as I’ve always felt that a simple chart or image along with a clearly articulated thought can be more impactful than a wall of numbers or words. So if you’re looking for something educational to add to your feed, I’d really appreciate the follow!
After one of our regular springtime walks through the neighborhood enjoying the flowering trees, neighborly hellos, and the smell of freshly mowed grass, my wife and I arrived back at our front porch. As I fumbled for the keys, she was clearly still thinking of the many beautiful homes we saw and had a moment of inspiration. “You know, we should really update our porch light. It’s completely rusted and the glass is cracked!” She had a point — it had definitely seen better days. So we hopped in the car and made a trip to the local hardware store. And that’s when things started to go downhill.
When working on something new, sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of putting off small incremental improvements while holding out for the next big idea. We’ve all been there. Maybe you’re avoiding boring tasks at work while spending all of your energy on something more interesting that probably won’t go anywhere. Perhaps you feel disconnected from other people because of the pandemic but spend your time fantasizing about a future party or thinking about moving rather than simply picking up the phone. And we probably all know someone who likes to talk about saving the environment but who can’t be bothered to pick up the litter in their own back yard.
Thinking big sometimes blinds us to the opportunities around us that are small in isolation but can cumulatively make a big difference.
Me? As a designer at heart, I definitely have a tendency to get caught so deep in new idea exploration that time flies and my everyday to-do list falls behind. But the little details really do matter, and I recently made a couple of small changes that I’d like to point out.