A New Website

February 21, 2016

It’s finally alive! I’ve been working on my new site off and on for a few months now, making slow progress on the nights, mornings and weekends around work, and I am thrilled that the new site is finally ready to deploy.

My old website needed a complete overhaul badly. When I first created a website back in college, I started with a Flash site shudders. I quickly became a Posterous convert because of my classmate Jason Lang, and my sites lived on that service until they were acquired by Twitter in 2012 and shut down their service the following year. Posterous created a very nice Wordpress export plugin, and since most of the sites I worked with professionally were Wordpress sites, I decided to go with that as my new site’s platform. I wasn’t as comfortable with code then as I am now, so I chose to buy a theme someone else designed and built and did some code modifications to get it where I wanted it to be.

The old

When I created that new site, Wordpress 3.6 was the most recent release. I went in to update the WP to 3.7 and it absolutely broke everything with the theme, so I needed to fix the theme in order to use a stable release. I didn’t want to begin digging through someone else’s work like that, so I left it alone knowing I’d need to fix it. Once the site was old enough, I started to see hacking becoming an issue, and I couldn’t upgrade plugins because I couldn’t upgrade the WP build. The WP configuration with the theme wasn’t great and the site was way too bloated. I decided that I needed to start over with something new and began looking into static site generators.

Jekyll, Middleman or Pelican?

My new site did not need any of the benefits of a database, and I knew that speed and performance would be dramatically improved by using a static site for this site. I researched the top 10 static site generators, eventually narrowing the field down. I had three top contenders - Jekyll, Middleman and Pelican. While I would’ve loved to learn Python on this project, I didn’t think it was the right project for me to cut my teeth on it, so I’ve saved Python for another day.

Between Middleman and Jekyll, I liked that Middleman seemed to have more features right out of the box, things like image minification, uglification, etc. What I didn’t much care for is that it seemed to have way more features than I needed and I did not want to spend time dealing with the cruft - one of the main reasons I wanted to get away from Wordpress.

I decided to go with Jekyll after all of this research for a few important reasons: it has the best support and most active dev community, which meant that working in an entirely new platform would be much easier because of those resources; it uses Liquid as its templating language, which meant I would be learning the templating language of Shopify and could use that in the future; and it was easy to spin up and deploy on almost any platform I chose.

Some tech specs

So I built my new site with Jekyll, and I really enjoyed it. I used HTML/CSS only for the site - didn’t really feel like it was necessary to use any Javascript since there isn’t anything that requires heavy lifting. I used Flexbox for the first time to do some stuff that had previously been done with Javascript, and I’m really excited about the future with Flexbox. I used Simple Form for my contact page, and it was a breeze to implement. There are a lot of assets that have been minified, and I’d like to reduce their size even further. I know my CSS could use some refactoring for performance and I’d love to refactor it in BEM style, but I’ll save that for another day.

Some other new stuff

Aside from the new site, there’s all new About Me content that explains what the whole Cyanide & Magenta thing means and there are 6 brand new case studies featuring some of my favorite work.

I’m very excited that I’ve completed this project and am looking forward to my next Jekyll project!