I’ve Only Gone and Redesigned my Website, Again
This is the tenth iteration of my website in about as many years. It’s hard to keep track. I have the old versions on ice somewhere (and a project in mind).
My last redesign back in 2016 – that seems so long ago! – was a fairly large rebrand. Overall I’m happy with the job I did. It added much needed vitality to my old monochromatic style. Maybe I over did it? Either way, I’ve grown a little tired of it and felt motivated to give the site a fresh coat of paint.
My primary goals for this design were to:
- Find a new harmony between my past designs
- Keep the colourful brand but return to a more minimal style
- Lose the framed layout and allow whitespace to flow
- Do it all in four days
I’m really liking the results. What do you think?
It’s not “finished” but there is enough to launch and build upon.
My old homepage was probably a little over-designed in retrospect. Especially with the animations. Sub-pages were a bit boring. I never got around to actually designing them. This time I’ve started with a single template that feels more balanced across all pages.
For weeks I’d been mulling over design ideas and sketching them in a barely comprehensible fashion. I wasn’t planning any content changes so sketches didn’t quite visualise all I had in mind. On a client-free day inspiration struck and I moved into Adobe XD to experiment with the colour palette and typography.
By my fourth coffee I was pretty chuffed with where the design was heading. I hadn’t nailed it but I was on the right track. By the afternoon I’d fallen into a slump and was just pushing pixels. This was my cue to move into code. I opened up CodePen and found my groove again. The following morning I’d basically designed and built the base template. It was fairly late in the day when I decided to flip the layout. From that moment everything fell into place and I started focusing on the finer details.
A secondary goal of this project was to rewrite my CSS from scratch. I threw away all the legacy code. Some of it was IE6 years old. This gave me an opportunity to:
- Use modern CSS grid layout
- Use CSS custom properties
- Set up an improved static build workflow
I used the Utopia calculator by James Gilyead & Trys Mudford as the foundation for my typographic scaling. I was playing around with something similar, though much more basic, for my MuteSwan project. Utopia is cleverer that anything I could code.
My new design comes with a dark mode theme!
This is possible by the power of CSS custom properties. Click the lightbulb in the top-left corner. It will soon be activated automatically via media queries once I’ve perfected it. Check back very soon for a blog post discussing this feature.
I bookmarked Antoine Boulanger’s article “Are you using SVG favicons yet?” a while ago and have been delivering SVG icons for clients ever since. Prior to that I’d just assumed
favicon.ico was a relic never to change. Thanks Antoine!
My own favicon was based on a raster image of my origami crane mascot. I launched Adobe Illustrator and whipped up a quick vector version.
Kinda rough but at 16×16 it works far better than I was expecting. One day I’ll vectorize it in more detail as I’d like to experiment with it on my homepage too.
I’m still using React to server-side render static pages. I’ve disabled the front-end hydration of the entire page for now. That configuration did allow pages to load via smaller JSON requests but the service worker didn’t cache the canonical HTML page. Because the site wasn’t a SPA — “single page app” – a refresh of those URLs hit a cold cache. Anyway, I could have fix that but suffice it to say I’m avoiding any technical debt for now.
I’ve been dipping my toes in the Netlify pond for side projects and I’m finally sold. The tipping point was Netlify’s Large Media solution. It uses Git Large File Storage and basically keeps 50MBs of binary data out of my repo. I was worried I’d need to update my build process to reference random CDN URLs but thankfully not.
My old hosting solution was GitHub Pages fronted by Cloudflare. My contact form is still hooked up to AWS. I may eventually move that over to Netlify Forms.
As I alluded to in the opening paragraph I’ve kept all the old versions of my website in one form or another. I’d like to stick the homepages up on sub-domains for a nostalgia trip. That may be my next side project.
The one area of my site I’m still not happy with is my portfolio. Most of my client work in recent years can’t really be shown off in this format. For now I’ll leave it up as-is until I decide what to do. That and more tweaks to the new design are in the pipeline. I’ll be blogging in more detail on certain aspects.
Source code is on GitHub as always if you’re interested in the custom build process.