If anyone has noticed, and judging by my analytics data you haven’t, my site has been “under construction” for a few years now. That has just changed! This blog post celebrates the launch of my site redesign.
So why did it take me so long to launch my site? There are a few reasons. The main one, though, was Wordpress. When I replaced my site with the “under construction” page, it was because I wanted a better blogging solution than the custom CMS I created. While the custom CMS was lean and mean, it was just complicated enough where it prevented me from blogging. And since everyone is using Wordpress, I thought “I’ll just use that.”
I started developing a Wordpress theme and playing around with its blogging environment. It was definitely easier than my custom CMS, but still not the simple solution I was hoping for. After realizing I wasn’t excited about Wordpress, I did some googling to find alternatives.
Dr. Jekyll? We Must [not] Hyde!
After a few days of half-hearted research, I came across the concept of static site generators. My mind was kinda blown. Static site generators were exactly what I was looking for. After looking at a few different options, I decided to go with Jekyll.
Jekyll uses Liquid templates. I’m usually template agnostic. But since Liquid was created by and is used by Shopify, I thought Liquid would be good to learn (especially since I may use Shopify for a future project). Jekyll also integrates nicely with a Node.js and Gulp build environment. It also has very good documentation, on top of the very good documentation for Liquid. All in all, it fit my technical needs. But how will it help me blog more?
Theoretically, Jekyll will help me blog more because the barrier of entry is much lower than other blogging platforms. With Jekyll, I just type up a blog entry in any text editor, add some minimal Markdown formatting, and I’m good to go. For anything that requires special markup (like images, pull quotes, etc), I have created some Liquid component templates that spit out the correct HTML. So as long as my markup is clean, I know it’s going to display the way I intend. I won’t have to deal with a WYSIWYG editor and erroneous markup. This will also minimize the amount of time I’m editing straight HTML. I also don’t have to deal with the overhead and administration of a Wordpress site. I don’t have to deal with upgrades, plugins, etc. A site as simple as mine does not require the overkill that is Wordpress.
Websites are Never Done
I think you’ll also notice that, at the time of this writing, my site is not completely finished. I wanted to launch my site and thought it best to get something out there and iterate on it. Taking a mobile first approach, I focused on making things work on small screens first. While my site is usable on tablets and desktop browsers, the design isn’t optimized for them. Those design changes will come later, as will a couple added features and pages. But taking somewhat of an MVP approach, I can start blogging sooner, get feedback from people, and integrate changes before investing too much effort into something that will change.
That’s the story behind my redesigned site. I shared this in case anyone else was in the same boat. If you are, hopefully this gives you a few ideas and moves you further along. Feel free to contact me if you want to chat!