This article is being written on January 9th, 2019, but I officially started the new redesign for this site on November 22nd, at 2 o’ clock in the morning, which is obviously the prime time for great ideas.
Nonetheless, if you’re reading this post, it’s here!
Here’s the old site for reference:
Coming soon, copyright 2017 (that tweet ended up being the only one on there).
Why wasn’t it good enough?
There was no obvious way to throw new projects into it. Where would I put, well, anything? A tab at the top? But anything more than a couple tabs quickly becomes a nightmare to navigate. Here’s AWS’s old product menu for reference:
This alone kept me from using AWS for, like, two years. How can you possibly get started with that?
So the tab-per-project thing is out. I could have made a Projects tab, but then, isn’t Unreplied technically a project? And, of course, it is, but I wanted it to have its own page: duro.me/unreplied looked better than duro.me/projects/unreplied.
The obvious solution to avoid this was to just throw Unreplied onto its own domain: https://unreplied.app. If you’re reading this, I might have already done that. I opted not to do this in the beginning because domains require hosting and hosting costs money. I was taking advantage of GitHub pages to host duro.me for free, but that only worked for one subdomain. I couldn’t have nexuist.github.io and unreplied.github.io, and I couldn’t have https://unreplied.app redirect to nexuist.github.io/projects/unreplied seemlessly (i.e. having it say unreplied.app in the address bar). Today, I know about Netlify, and that’s probably what I’ll use to address this.
…Aren’t mine. They’re actually the default for Bulma, the CSS framework I used to build the old site. Or, at least, they were, Bulma received a pretty significant overhaul last year that now makes my site look even more outdated.
I thought it looked fine at the time, and to me it still kind of does, but having used dark mode in VSCode and now system wide in macOS Mojave, it’s just nicer on the eyes. So this redesign is dark.
The old site wasn’t really meant to be anything. It was just a humble page on the Internet about me. But it did a terrible job of conveying what cool things I’d done in the past, who I was outside of software dev, or any stories I wanted to share. You’d take a glance at it and figure out that I was a geek but not much more.
So I built this blog instead. It’s powered by Jekyll which should make it really easy to add new content to the site, and boy, do I have content to add.
A few words about Jekyll. It’s a static microsite generator written in Ruby, focused on blog platforms. What does that mean? Well, I have a
_posts directory, and to make a new post I simply create a new Markdown file (this post is also in Markdown).
If you don’t know about Markdown: check out the original inception post on Daring Fireball. It’s stupid easy to understand, super powerful, and available on basically anything you can type into.
Jekyll takes over the rest and applies themes, preprocesses Liquid, generates HTML, compiles SASS, builds a prod directory, etc. Very easy and takes away most of the stress of administrating a blog since, well, it’s really just a folder of files you’re throwing onto a server somewhere. Not much that can go wrong! (famous last words)
But it’s not meant to be just a blog. Unlike previous iterations of my Web presence, I wanted this to be interactive in a way that most personal sites aren’t. I wanted someone who just found out about me to be able to spark up a conversation about anything they wanted, and get a reply as soon as I was able to respond, straight from the site. Announcing Live Chat.
I also wanted a way to stay in touch with readers even after they’ve left the site. So, I did what a lot of blog owners do, and started a email newsletter. The catch?
Well, I don’t know if it counts as a catch, but you only get emailed whenever I make a post. No daily, weekly, monthly schedule, because I’m sure you’re a busy person too, and you don’t need me jumping into your inbox every day with whatever I could scrape up from Reddit. Only the important stuff! Learn more and subscribe.
I remember the good old days when I was just starting out with web dev and trying to make my first version of a portfolio showcase - only to realize that, oh hey, I have nothing to show yet. Now I have the opposite problem: too much to show, not enough time to show it! I hope this redesign is the first step in the right direction.