A new look: What? Why? and How?

If you’re a regular visitor you’ll notice things look VERY different around here today. If you’re not then you’re probably thinking WOAH!?!?! WHAT IS THIS?!

I’ve been working on a little re-brand of my personal blog site. Here’s the low down on it.

What have you done?

Well, quite. I actually have no idea if this is a great idea or a terrible one. But I’ve removed the long-standing “Which Way Now” branding and made the whole thing much more “me”.

I’ve implemented a new theme that I’ve created from scratch. I’ve 100% embraced the fact that I’m not a designer and removed pretty much all the images (apart from those in posts) and added a geeky, mono-spaced font look that’s hopefully appealing to my core audience. And the homepage has a fun section for those-who-know to try out with plenty of Easter eggs to find

I’ve also tried to embrace modern web technologies – more about this in the “How?” section, below.

I still need to re-work a lot of out of date pages and do a bit more work on presenting content and adding what I want in the navigation/sidebar. The structure is/will be somewhat inspired by Julia Evans’s ideas about categorising her blog.

Other inspiration is from:

Why have you done this?

I think my audience has changed – it’s more technical people now and less general folk.

I think the things I write and the reasons I write have changed – it’s less of a life journal and more of a set of technical articles and stuff about technology and work.

This will sounds horribly vain, I know – when I started working freelance I set up Oikos as my business, but I was never sure if it would be more important to promote the business or to promote myself. Over the last few years it’s become evident that my personal “brand” is more important to my work, so I’m really focussing in on that with this change.

I wanted to show that I could build my own theme for my own site, gain greater control over the structure of it, learn some new things, try some new things, and tinker with technology.

As I said, I’m not a designer and I always had a sense that my personal site didn’t need to be image-heavy; why load a bunch of impersonal stock images or off-the-shelf icons that actually say nothing about me? So I’ve gone all in on the geeky coding theme and it’s super fast and light-weight as a result, with fun things for my core audience to play with.

How did you make it?

It’s built with:

  • WordPress
  • Plain CSS (including flexbox)
  • A little plain vanilla, framework-free JavaScript (ES6 to be precise, might struggle on IE11)
  • My own super-simple starter theme based on _s (“underscores“) – I’m working on a branch that removes the SASS and Webkit build process
  • ZERO build process
  • ZERO cookie-based analytics or social media tracking codes – I use my own Kownter (still early work in progress) for anonymised, private analytics
  • 100% system font stacks – I ship you NO font files. I’m actually not entirely happy with the system mono-spaced fonts, I wanted something more Courier’y really

This has been years in the thinking, but not actually that long in the making. I’ve really enjoyed doing it and I’m pleased with the result…I think?

It’s still not quite finished, and I’m totally up for feedback. I’m not sure it’s easy enough to read, so if you think the idea of the design is terrible then do tell me.

Finally, all good websites have a quote from my friend Simon Pollard, so here’s the obligatory hat tip to him:

It is missing a quote from me – all good sites have a quote from me

Simon Pollard