14th Jan, 2023

Website Redesing, Part 3: An MVP

It’s almost comical writing about this now, since so much time has passed since the last bit about me updating this site. But if you’re reading this now, you’re reading this on a new domain using a different tech stack and a new design. Both the tech stack and the design are different from what I outlined in the last post of this series. I want to talk about why it took so long and why it all changed so much.

The “why it took so long” part

There is two reasons for this: Life and me. Let’s talk about life first.

A lot of things happened in the past few month that demanded a lot of mental attention. First of all, I got married (hence the new domain, because the old one no longer fitted my last name). And while we did not have a big party, it still required a lot of administration work. Second, I started a new jobs at gigs in November (we’re hiring) and the interviewing process as well as getting settled into to role took some time. I did not have to work evenings, but with my family also requiring some time I was just to tired a lot of the evenings.

The second reason is me. Because to be honest, I had this redesign almost finished two times but then changed it all up again because it did not feel right to me. This, by the way, is why they say to never change your website design once you have it if you want to keep writing: It takes away all your time from the writing. The changes were in design and technological.

The design changes

I started this series out with a design I did in Figma and then went ahead to do the technical groundwork. By the time I finished that, I no longer liked the design. Objectively, it was fine, but it did not really feel like me. So I ditched it. I went for something new, a lot flashier. A lot of blurry, translucent backgrounds, a lot of colourful gradients. And again, objectively, that was a good design. But it did not feel like me. It felt like I forced it to be there. So I threw it out again and started with the bare minimum: A font combination I liked and a color I liked. I only added to that what I needed and that’s what you are currently seeing. A very minimalistic approach that might not scream “I do frontend development in react” in you face, but one I like.

What also changed is the design process. It‘s now designed in code. I always wanted to design in code in the past, but never felt productive with it. I think with React, Next.ja and Tailwind, I now have a system in place that allows me to iterate quickly and with a decent experience for myself.

Wait, Next.js? Haven’t I written about how I wanted to use Gatsby for the redesign in the past?

The technical changes

I built blogs and personal pages in Gatsby before, and I like it. Hence the initial choice. But I worked a lot with Next.js lately (especially since I had to learn it for my new job) and it feels like a better fit for what I want to achieve here.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think Gatsby is a great tool for building static sites, but I felt it was a bit limiting in that. This site has grown a lot in the past, from just a blog to other pages. I want to keep that going. And I don’t want to be limited by the underlying technology in terms of what I can build here. I may never need that flexibility, but I want to have that option. Also, I don’t like writing GraphQL queries for everything.

It’s more of an addition instead of a change, but I also use Tailwind now for styling. It allows me to move fast and try out different things in the design. I feel like Tailwind is a controversial topic right now, but I like it. Yes, the class strings of elements get long. I can live with that.

The current state

The site currently is a little rough about the edges. It does not have all the features I initially wanted to add. It is even missing some of the pages from the old site. But I wanted to finally get it out of the door. You know, we’re all agile and lean over here. I still have a lot of stuff I want to do, but I also want to continue writing and not feel the shame of publishing under my false name. Posts and notes are here as well as all pages that (hopefully) will make sure I don’t get sued. Everything else will come with time.

© 2024 Chris Jarling