Rosser Writes

New site design, and the fork in the road

I lift the lid on a new website design, and make an admission about a possible future to which I never thought I'd return.

A couple of days ago, I launched a new design for my website. My goal was to freshen the site's look and feel. I also wanted to create more separation between my books and my blog. I can now feature content as I see fit too, and the redesign was an excellent opportunity to remove cruft and clean up my website's codebase.

For the last 4 years, I've used Bootstrap as the basis for my website's front end. Bootstrap is a very popular open-source CSS framework. This latest incarnation is based on UIKit, also open source. That's not to say I suddenly dislike Bootstrap — I just felt like a change, and I like what UIKit provides out of the box.

On the backend, my website continues to use Pelican, a static-site generator built with Python. I still host the site on Netlify, which costs me nothing.

However, in rebuilding my website, I've come to the conclusion that I am reaching the limits of what a static website can do for me. While I like the speed, stability and security, there are some things I cannot do with static HTML, CSS and JavaScript alone.

It's also hard to publish and manage my website from my iPad and iPhone. My current publishing system is based on Git and continuous deployment using GitHub hooks. While it's certainly possible to do this from an iOS device, compared to merely logging into an online CMS, it's bloody painful.

My 2015 MacBook Air is nearing retirement and Apple's yet to produce a laptop I want. I'm approaching the day I'll switch to iOS as my primary operating system -- though in terms of hours used, I've likely made that transition already. I like iOS for its simplicity, the adaptive form-factor of the iPad, and because using iOS doesn't feel like work in quite the same way macOS does.

Part of this desire is borne out of a need to streamline and simplify the tools I use. When I started using a static-site generator in 2014, my blog was barely getting a dozen visitors a month. I now get a thousand visitors a week. I have an audience, and I want to write more for my readers without burning out thanks to technical debt.

So, while I'm not looking to change any time soon, I will admit I am looking at, and already testing potential alternatives. I'm undecided yet if I'll chronicle my journey -- it's probably not that interesting to most people, though moving from a static-site to a hosted CMS might raise eyebrows and the ire of some of my more technical readers!

In the meantime, enjoy the new design and let me know below in the comments if you have any thoughts, issues, or you spot a bug.

Cover Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash.



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