When I began recoding, I realized how naive I was. The only way to build something at such a fast pace for a one man shop was to only have text in the website.
Then it hit me. What if I just use text?
Redefine the Purpose
The last time I touched Des+Dev was 3 years ago in 2014. Three years have passed and I only had a handful of blog posts.
Not good at all. When I set out to build Des+Dev, my intention was to create an outlet for me to express my thoughts and to practice my writing skills.
That intention still existed, but the motivation flowed down the drain.
What’s the Problem?
I had to be true to myself. I had to ask myself “why the fuck did I not stick to my goal? Are you just a dreamer?”
When I planned Des+Dev, I wanted to combine my coding and designing skills all in one package.
Coding could be done through the constant update on the website, adding interesting interactive features. Designing was the difficult part, since there’s nothing else left to do after designing the website. Then I thought, “how about creating a feature image for each blog post?”
Sounded perfect, isn’t it? So I set out to do that. Every time I had an idea for a topic to write, I’d pair it with a unique hand crafted header image.
And that was the bottleneck.
The inspiration to come up with a topic to write was challenging enough, and now I had to deal with finding another inspiration for creating an image that matched my topic. And I didn’t want to find a stock image. It was too cheap.
Frustration came in.
My blog post couldn’t be published faster. Images were taking too long to make. A post that could be done in 1 hour ended up taking 3. It was dreadful. The more posts I wrote, the more I didn’t want to publish anymore. The perfection in me slowly gobbled up my mind. My inability to complete a post as fast as I’d wanted to demotivated me. Just the thought of writing another post drained my energy.
And I stopped writing. And left Des+Dev all alone.
Keep the Essentials, Strip the Fat
After 3 years, I decided to revisit the Des+Dev. I really needed to hone my up writing skills, because I wanted to write better copy. When I looked at the old website, that dreadful energy-sucking-demotivating-goblin had came back, but this time I was able to face it and attack it forcefully. Because I had my purpose.
Feature image was not the drive to create the website in the first place. The drive was the blog posts. The images were nice-to-have but not essential. If the articles were good, they can speak for themselves without the need for fancy images to clutter the thoughts. Need images to enhance the idea in the post? Sprinkle them throughout the paragraphs. But feature image? Nah.
So away went the feature images. Poof.
But in the old design, if there wasn’t a feature image for each post, the design would’ve looked hideous. It’s so unbearable that it’s better to just have a 404 page.
That’s when I decided to redesign the website. Strip all the unnecessary fat, and keep what’s important. And do it in the shortest amount of time possible.
When the Leader Says Go, You Better Follow
I didn’t just decide to remove the feature image. In fact, all of the images that constitute the design of the previous website were all thrown out the window. With the new design, I decided not to include any image whenever possible. Just use good old typography, colors, shapes and size variations. You know, anything that could be done with CSS (no embeds) was my new design goal. Basic design elements FTW.
Even the Des+Dev logo was done purely with fonts and CSS. No pngs. No svgs.
The result was a very clean and bold design, with focus on the blog posts. Heck, it looked rather modern too.
To provide a better reading experience, I’ve set a maximum size of the content area to 680px with large fonts so that your eyes can move swiftly without squinting.
I also removed the comments section. It’s just too cluttering and too many spams. If a reader wanted to leave a comment, they could do so through Twitter.
Menu bar? Nah. Put everything else in a menu overlay and make searching through contents a breeze. So I implemented AJAX searching and fetching of blog posts through the menu overlay.
To be honest, I had wanted to move away from WordPress and just put all the blog posts as JSON flat files. After much consideration I’ve decided against that idea because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Also, WordPress had already been implemented on my server and my old posts were already in the database. It’s a simple fetch to get the data back. If I migrated away from WordPress, then I’d have to reconfigure all the posts to their individual JSON files. I’d also have to implement the reading of files to fetch the blog posts.
And with WordPress, it comes with a nice admin interface that allows me to write a post anytime and anywhere using any devices. If I’d implemented JSON flat files, then I could only write posts on my own computer, unless I code up my own admin page. But, unnecessary work is unnecessary.
Over all, a new design shipped in 16 hours got the job done right on the point, whereas the previous design took about 2 weeks and diverted a long way from the original intent. Big difference.
Perfection Kills Professionalism
Funny how when you wrote something real, it will resonate with you regardless of time. I wrote the article on how being perfect kills the road to becoming a professional awhile back. And prior to writing this post, I had coincidentally read that article again because my wife was browsing through my website and was reading that post.
There were so many interesting things I’d wanted to implement on this new design, but I kept telling myself to keep moving on with the bare necessity and Just Fucking Ship (borrowing the words from Amy Hoy).
So the shipped website is not perfect, and perhaps contain some weird quirks here and there. But it’s done. And it’s very satisfying. Can I take the website to my desired level? Of course, I have all the time in the world from now to make it better. But the key is to get it out the door and usable to people.
Take the leap, and you will win.