Wed 15 May 2019
One Last Ride
When did redesigning a personal website become such hell? I've had this site running for almost two decades now, and while it's been a point of (perhaps misplaced) pride, I try to keep it looking decent and up to date. The modern landscape is crazy, though - a million-ish screen sizes and densities, different appearance APIs depending on whether you're running a dark mode or not, and much higher standards for what "looks good".
I think I settled on something I'm happy with for the next few years, and with any luck, the remainder of my time on these here internets.
The previous design for this site was made towards the tail-end of my time living in Tokyo. I realized one day that I'd kept the design from... 2008... up for almost ten years. We're talking pre-iPhone here. I redesigned it to effectively look like a Medium blog with some elements of personality, and was happy with it for awhile: it did the job and stayed out of my way.
Then earlier this year, a family member was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer. Sitting in a hospital room with someone you care about while they battle something like that isn't easy - it makes you think a lot about how you live your own life. I remember pulling up my site one day and thinking to myself: "wow, this is incredibly devoid of personality. Is this mine?"
Since I had time to pass while sitting there, I just kind of started throwing stuff at the screen and seeing what I liked.
- I wanted something with dynamic-ish shapes. A growing current trend in (web-based) design is softer shapes and more variation in element positioning.
- I wanted to keep it loading insanely fast. I personally like a CSS-Zen-Garden approach (I'm dating myself here) to see what all can be done without needing a litany of network connections.
- I wanted to spruce up the old content, for better SEO and reading comfort.
- I wanted to support dark mode, for browsers that support the new
@mediaquery for appearance preferences.
- I wanted a smooth code reading experience, for the more technical articles.
- I wanted personality in here somewhere.
That last point dovetails into the other big thing I wanted. The web I grew up on was people owning their content, and we lost that somewhere along the way. It's a difficult thing to walk back, too, but I figure I can at least have it for myself - hence why this site now automatically grabs my tweets, GitHub activity, and Dribbble work and displays it throughout as you browse. In keeping with ensuring this thing loads like demonically fast, the data is scraped and repackaged into what's effectly a static site every few minutes.
If you're interested, I open sourced the code I used for this part here. Feel free to use!
I'm hoping to continue posting content here, since it's nice to have your own space. 2019 has been a pretty good clip for this! Also, never let me do this again.