Each year, when WordPress releases a new standard theme, I take a look and decide that it’s not for me. But it always tickles the bit of my brain that wants to fiddle about with things. This year is no exception.
This has previously led me to dark places — like JAMSTACK, or even plain HTML. Most of the time I resist the urge to embark on something huge and instead make incremental changes. Something to settle the itch. This time round I started from scratch and wrote what is probably the third or fourth structural rewrite of this site.
Here’s a summary of the changes and the rationale behind them:
Simplified design, inside and out
I don’t do this stuff for a living. My design sessions are a caffeine driven blur, and the result a hot-mess of CSS that works, but where its legibility is inversely proportional to the amount of time I spent working on it.
CSS frameworks feel like cheating, so I’ve always rolled my own. This time I started with a small & flexible CSS package — water.css — and added a smattering of customised selectors, resulting in drastically reduced page sizes and much cleaner code that I can build upon.
This year the blog sits in its own section, and the front page becomes an overview. I’ve spent some time organising everything into more logical & distinct sections.
Archives are deprecated
I’ve done away with the traditional archive and added some helpers to encourage serendipitous exploration instead — specifically, increasing the visibility of tags and adding in search. A chronological list of posts quickly becomes unwieldy and unhelpful as a site grows, and by a wide margin, any traffic that I do get comes from search engines directly to individual pages anyway.
This also has the effect of reducing the importance of titles, which I think is a good thing.
Dates are downgraded
I de-emphasised dates across the site. They are now only shown on individual posts, relieving any anxiety I have about the site appearing stale.
I do not enjoy dark-mode, but many people do. I’ve implemented a simple dark-mode using the CSS selector ’prefers-color-scheme’. The browser should detect your preference and adjust accordingly. I’d have struggled to do this with the old spaghetti-code.
These are the most wide-ranging changes that I’ve made to my blog in many years. It feels like time well spent.
I go through stages where I wonder what the point of it all this is, but it seems important somehow that people can see that it’s still possible to have a space of your own on the net. When the last one dies, we will have lost something irreplaceable.