Crafting a New Site

I’ve been making some changes around the old digs.

April 5, 2016

Hello and welcome to the newest iteration of my site! I’ve always used my site as a playground for experimentation, and with this iteration I wanted to explore a new CMS I’ve heard great things about called Craft. If you’ve visited before, you may think a lot of it looks the same. Under the hood, there’s a completely different engine.

Before this version, I’ve mostly coded each page of my site by hand — partly because I liked the control, partly because it let me explore new ideas quickly, and partly because I didn’t like the way most CMSes worked. Craft is different, though. With Craft, I can have my cake and eat it, too.

Why Craft?

  1. I can keep hand-coding my templates. Yes, you can make themes for most other CMSes, but they often force a LOT of cruft on you whether you want it or not. I like the way Craft templates work because I feel like I retain complete control over the code that gets output.
  2. Consistency is, well, not king, but still super important. One of the biggest issues with the previous hand-coded versions of the site was simply maintaining consistency: both in copy and style. Now when I change a headline or thumbnail, it’ll change everywhere.
  3. That Matrix field is really friggin’ sweet. Seriously, look at what I can do with a decently configured Matrix field. I’m using the same Matrix field content on my About page, my individual portfolio pages, AND even this very blog entry.
  4. I can dance if I want to. I can leave my CMS behind. Sometimes, I may still want to play around with an idea on my personal site. And I can do that without breaking what Craft does.

So what else is new?

A more personal journal

I’ve been blogging sporadically at UXcellence for several years now. I love writing there for longer-form thoughts on UX-specific topics, but I often have random thoughts and ideas that are more personal that I’d love to share elsewhere. Now I can!

A personal style guide

I made a style guide, mostly for my own edification. I’ve used them on several projects over the last few years and found them super helpful. Even though it’s just me here, the style guide has already been a handy reference and I have plans to expand on it further as I find more things I want to document and keep consistent.

A new host

I was a customer of Media Temple since 2008. I had concerns when GoDaddy acquired them in 2013, but I stuck with them from sheer inertia. In the meantime, I’ve been really happy with UXcellence hosted on Digital Ocean. I’ve wanted to move all of my various personal domains to a second droplet, and with this change, it seemed like the right time.

What next?

I’ll be talking about how I set things up in Craft, posting more random personal things, and hopefully building out more fun stuff for my site. I miss the days when personal sites were eclectic and random, and I think this setup will let me play and explore a lot more. I hope you’ll come along with me!