A couple weeks ago, I opened my website and realized one of my blog posts was broken. Why? I don’t know. Wordpress, probably. I debated whether or not I just fix the issue, and continue to deal with Wordpress, or if I follow my heart.

I’m following my heart.

Inspired by a couple of my personal heroes, Jonnie Hallman and Frank Chimero, I am re-designing my website in the open.

What does that mean?

Frank Chimero explained it well, so I’ll quote him here:

Here’s the idea: I’m going to be redesigning my site, and I will document the thoughts, process, and decisions here. (This is largely inspired by my friend Jonnie’s redesign blog.) By writing about it, it may help both of us. I can further develop my methods by navigating the friction of explaining them. I’ve been looking for a way to clarify and share my thoughts about typography and layout on screens, and this seems like a good chance to do so. And you? Well, perhaps the site can offer a clearly explained way of working that’s worth considering. That seems to be a rare thing on the web these days.

I don’t think that my blog will be as useful to anybody as Frank or Jonnie’s undoubtedly was, but I do think it is helpful to write one’s thoughts down in a place they can be easily referenced. 

It is also helpful to our craft to discuss our work in more detail. Khoi Vinh was so perturbed by the lack of detailed design commentary available that he started a podcast with Adobe to address the need.

My hope is that, by documenting the design process, I might help those who are starting out in this field.

In addition to documenting the design process, I plan on documenting and open-sourcing my code as well. For a variety of reasons (I’ll save them for a future article), I plan on learning Vue or React and creating a static website, rather than a PHP-style blog.

But both React and Vue can be hard to learn. In the past, it was much easier to learn how to make a website. You right-clicked anywhere on the page and selected Inspect Element” from the contextual menu. That was how I taught myself basic HTML and CSS years ago: I inspected what other people had made. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to inspect somebody’s modern web app and see how the sausage was made. Inspect Element is basically useless. You can’t tell if you’re looking at components, or layouts, or pages, or routes. You don’t know if they built the whole thing with NPM, React, Vue, Gatsby, Gridsome, or — honestly — Squarespace.

I don’t know what tech stack I’ll use yet — apart from a headless stack of some variety — but I will document what I’m learning, and share open source the site once I’m done. I hope, by documenting what I’m learning, as well as open-sourcing my code, I can make a positive contribution to people who are just learning this craft.