Intro to Montaigne

Mehul

I’ve made about 10 efforts to set up a personal website over the last decade or so, and I’ve abandoned each and every one of them within a month or two. Well that was until I set up my most recent site using Montaigne. And why did Montaigne succeed where WordPress, Squarespace, Gatsby, Hugo and Ghost fail?

Ease

First of all, let me tell you how easy it is to create and update a site using Montaigne.

  • Step 1. Select a website name on Montaigne
  • Step 2. Create a folder with the same name in Apple Notes
  • Step 3. Share said folder w/ Montaigne
  • Step 4. Add notes to the folder

And voila. That’s it. Montaigne has converted your newly created folder and everything in it into a website. Just like that.

Want to create a new page? Just add a new note to the folder.

Want to embed images? Just paste in an image into the note.

It’s that convenient. There’s no need to login to an admin panel. There’s no need to draft a post in one app and copy it over. You literally never have to leave Apple Notes to manage your website.

Simplicity

The set up for Montaigne is straight-forward. Notes map to pages. Folders map to folders. It all just makes sense. And the default theme is clean and the workflow is so self evident that the whole process takes minutes to learn. I haven’t felt the need to consult the docs, look at tutorials or contact anyone. It’s all self evident and intuitive.

Joy

Probably the most important reason of the lot. The combination of the prior two points provide me with an experience of joy. The speed at which ideas and thoughts can be written down and published is astonishing and that gives me a sense of control and power. And feeling joy makes me publish more often. A win-win!

Publishing Previously Produced Content

I organise my personal life, work and everything in between in Apple Notes. If I scroll through my notes, I see party plans, to-do items, poems, insights and everything in between. Some of these items are publishable and I know I’m not the only one. I have friends with hundreds of poems and hundreds of song lyrics just sitting in a random folder that will never see the light of day. I think Montaigne will result in people publishing creative works that would otherwise be lost forever.

Inherent Archival Nature

I know people who spend hours a day on social media, carefully crafting beautiful, impassioned content that required a lot of insight, intelligence and effort. Unfortunately, these platforms will one day disappear and as a result, it’s possible that the work posted on there will become buried and lost forever. Folks can now simply paste a copy of their work into an Apple Note, publish it via Montaigne and have maintain an archive that can be 1. Viewed in one place. 2. Is easily re-publishable if another platform takes off.

Content Ownership

You give up the rights to your content when you post on Instagram, Tumblr or most other social media platforms. They have the right to suspend your account, remove your content or reuse your content as they see fit. All of your contributes to the expansion of their network. While this gives you the potential benefit of a large audience (although their algorithms are unlikely to promote your content unless it makes them money), it means ultimately you lose ownership and control over your work. This is not the case with Montaigne. Your data is yours. Your content is yours.

Native Experience

The speed at which web apps have advanced over the last decade or so has been incredible but I still feel that native experience is superior. The latency is that much lower and while native apps do crash, I’ve found Apple Notes to be as robust as they come and I feel like I can push it to its limits. I can paste dozens of photos into a note and they are processed perfectly and quickly. I don’t get the same experience on web apps.

Overview

Your website’s structure will match your Apple Notes folder. This much is guaranteed. It’s a great feeling to have an overview of the site overall in such a concise manner.

Collaborators

All you have to do is share your folder or note if you want someone to help you on a particular page or if you even want to create a shared site. It’s that easy. They don’t have to sign up to the service themselves. You don’t have to create a team within the service. It’s as simple as right click, sharing.

I believe Montaigne will unlock the creativity of many people in an easy, seamless and joyful manner. It’s a joy to use and it’s a joy to work on.

Overall, a simple and straightforward app such as Montaigne can have multiple knock on effects which transforms the overall experience for the user. I'll end with a quote from Steve Jobs that comes to mind:

‘That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.’