On June 1, 2020, I wrote that I was going to redesign my blog in the open. I kept a redesign tag so folks could follow along with my updates. I had a few intentions going in:

  1. I was going to share my design process from beginning to end.
  2. I was going to write the entire thing as an SSG in Gatsby, Nuxt, Gridsome, or something like that, and open source it.

Three and a half years after I completely reset the site’s design, the new site is live, and I did not stick to either of those goals.

I mildly regret doing all this in public. I expected I would have more time to work on the project, especially because of the lockdowns during COVID, but in reality my work schedule has been fit to burst for three years now. On top of that, my wife and I bought out first house during COVID — a real fixer-upper — and we had some health issues to navigate, in addition to work. I had no margin to work on this. 

The knockoff effect of this very public delay is that I am a professional designer who has had a terrible-looking website for close to half a decade.

I also veered away from my stated goals:

  1. I wanted to share all my decision making publicly, but it takes a lot of effort to share your design process, particularly with the written word. For this site, I also did a lot of the fine-tuning and feel” of the design right in the browser, which sped things up as I approached the finish line. Sharing the minutia behind all those decisions would have been extremely time consuming, and delayed completing the project even further. I made some last-minute changes this morning that would have merited some explanation if I were to document everything. I just wanted to ship it.
  2. Between 2020 and now, it’s become clear that Javascript-generated sites aren’t the future so much as they are just an option, and I didn’t think the option was necessary for this site — at least, not right now, when time is short.1

That being said, there were some goals I stuck to: I wrote in June 2020 that I wanted to share small updates on a platform I owned and controlled, rather than on Twitter (which was oddly prescient of me). I can do that on this site, if I’d like. Here’s an example.

In the same post, I also wrote that I’d like to fetch everything from my Letterboxd profile and display it on my own site.2 You can now see all that on the Watching page.3

If you’re interested in following this blog, there are several ways to do that. You can subscribe via email, or to one of three RSS feeds: a feed to read everything, a feed exclusively for writing, and a feed exclusively for movie reviews. (I also signed up for micro.blog to easily distribute and syndicate my writing to other networks, so you can follow and respond there as well.)

There is more to do. I haven’t added any photo sharing features yet (which would decouple me from Instagram), although I don’t take nearly as many photos I used to. I have more I’d like to do with movie reviews on this site.

Despite all that, as the real estate agents always quipped, this place has good bones. It’s now running on Craft CMS, which is wonderful. I’ve added dark mode. It’s got a good, solid 12-column grid structure underlying the whole design. It’s going to be flexible for many years.

For those of you who have read this blog, even (and especially) during its desert years, thank you for reading and for your support. 

  1. I also didn’t share the source code anywhere. I would be happy to do that, but there are private APIs involved and the repo also uses some of the same back-end code that powers my portfolio, so making it all public feels a little unsafe. ↩︎

  2. Letterboxd was recently acquired. The company who bought them has an okay track record, as far as not completely messing up what they buy, but I’m still very happy all these reviews are on my own domain. ↩︎

  3. This was actually a very difficult feature to get right, largely because of the sheer quantity of film reviews I’ve written since 2016, and the amount of images displayed per page. But it feels solid now, and I’m pleased with how fast the site is, despite the fact that there are over 100 images on most of the annual Watching pages. ↩︎