Website Redesign: The Hangover

February 29, 2020

Every relationship experiences it at some point in time: fall in love, revel in something great and new, then struggle with the reality of the situation once things settle in. It could be a romantic relationship. It could be a pet. It could even be a fresh new pair of shoes.

And, yes. It can even be a website.

I fell in love with this site after I redesigned it. I fell hard for the minimalist aesthetic that represents a sort of a rebuke of the previous design. It’s like I was rebounding having come out of a long-term relationship I had with the last design. I guess you could say I was involved a winter fling and am now questioning a lot of the decisions I made as I’ve settled into the site.

(Oy, this really does sound like a romantic relationship.)

That said, I’m not sure this means I need to tear down the ship and re-start from scratch. There’s a solid foundation here. This site is fast. It’s accessible. And it comes with no strings attached in that there are no third-party dependencies on the front end. It gives me the best developer experience I’ve enjoyed so far, plus it’s allowed me to flip on Gutenberg in WordPress for the best writing experience I’ve ever had. What’s not to love there?

I think what makes me want to hang on to this redesign is just how bare it is. There’s so little to it that there are many opportunities for enhancements everywhere I turn. And the fact that there’s no technical debt behind it means I can enhance freely and responsibly as I go. It sorta reminds me of when Chris shipped v13 of CSS-Tricks. Some folks wrote in reporting that the site’s CSS file was missing because it was such a stark design compared to the previous version. Be that as it may, it opened up a lot of possibilities that allowed Chris to ship enhancements iteratively in such a way that it was like designing in the open. Perhaps this is a better way to view things on my site — it’s a work in progress and there’s lots of room to grow.

That aligns nicely with my general mindset when it comes to web projects: ship early and often. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” website and what’s more important than striving for perfection is getting something in the wild. The web is full of ones and zeroes. Digital experiences can be updated and changed as often as we want. Perfection and permanence are mythic on the web. Fail faster, as they say!

So where do I go from here? I don’t have any concrete plans, but I know there’s leftover work to do around here. For one, I only shipped comments and a comment form on blog posts last week and didn’t even style the form itself. It was more important to me to have a way to comment on posts than styling things to perfection. That’s one example of what needs to be done.

Another is the 404 page. I originally didn’t have one at all because, well, it just wasn’t top of mind for me at the time and felt like a nice-to-have. I’ve since shipped one, but it’s not finished and needs some love, particularly for those of your reading in light mode. Dark mode looks a whole lot better and refined. Speaking of light mode, I need to develop that feature a little more to provide a way to toggle between light and dark rather than forcing the decision on the operating system.

The design for light mode is literally lost in space.

Yeah, lots to do. Like any serious relationship, I’m going to invest myself in this for some time and see where it takes me.