I rebuilt the entire site from the ground up. Did you notice?


I hope not.

I'll try to keep the technical stuff to a minimum in favor of overall philosophy and keeping it clear for a layperson.

Previously on...

The site was previously built using Hugo, which is an excellent tool. It's crazy fast, the site it generates is lean and mean, there are a ton of out-of-the-box themes ready to go, and all the content is plain text in Markdown. But I'm not the right sort of webmaster.

Don't let this post deter you. If any of that sounds great to you, especially if you find an existing theme you like, you should definitely look into it.

So what went wrong?

Nothing went wrong with it, I just felt stifled by my own lack of knowledge and how long it took me to make the sort of modifications I wanted. I'm a tinkerer, and I can't help but get elbows deep into things until I've made them my own.

Hugo was tough for me because I was entirely unfamiliar with the type of code that it uses for themes and templates. I spent more time reading documentation and learning by trial-and-error than I did actually accomplishing my goals. It had become so tedious that I dreaded doing any maintenance or improvements, because I knew it would be a time sink. I'm already a full-time developer, and I don't want to spend my precious creative time doing stuff that feels like work.

The Present

So I rebuilt the site with Next.js since I'm a React developer and it's what I know best. It still generates a static website, but with more JavaScript. So while the site itself may not be as lean, I can make changes to it much more swiftly than before.

To put it into perspective:

It took me two weeks working an hour or two in the evening to build the original site, modifying an existing theme.

It took me three hours to re-create it in Next.js.

Other Improvements

I'm now using fonts that you already have on your machine. While the site may look a little different on different devices, there's one less thing you have to download. Text will now render instantly. I'm a little sad to leave behind the fun fonts (especially since Windows fonts leave a lot to be desired) but I think I can learn to live with it.

I removed the huge icon library (Font Awesome) and am now only adding in the individual icons that I need.

Images are optimized now, so they're a smaller download. Something I neglected to do in the previous version.

For you, the site is going to feel significantly faster, thanks to the way that Next.js handles switching pages.

Any Regrets?

None. The adventure into Hugo was a lot of fun, and I had some good learning. If building sites was my hobby, I would have gladly invested more time into it. I suppose the only thing that bums me out is that the site isn't as lean as it was before.