I’ve overhauled my website! Here’s an overview over the changes, and some of my plans for the future.
Structure & Optimization
The home page is now what previously was the about page with information about me and contact stuff, and the blog posts are on a separate side. I think that’s better as a landing page for visitors than just the list of posts.
I also tried to make the layout simpler and reduce the page sizes by using less and smaller images with better compression. E.g. I removed the previous full-width header image from over the navbar and the blog post list no longer shows thumbnails for the posts.
The posts page now clocks in at 363 kB (previously 2.4 MB), the home page at 607 kB (previously 1.5 MB). I think those numbers are fine, and if you’re on a slow connection, you can reduce it even further by disabling web fonts (I don’t use 3rd-party fonts by the way).
The general color palette was toned down. The backgrounds are now plain gray tones instead of the previous dark-purplish-blue, the links are now a more subtle instead of orange. I think that’s much less overwhelming, and the contrast on the text is better.
As you can see though, I haven’t given up my love for spacy colors. I just tried to keep them more contained as occasional splashes of color. For example, I originally tried out the funky gradients more as a joke, but it turned out I really like them (although the colors need some more fine-tuning for contrast). And on a gray background they stand out better.
Feed & Features
There are also some new features I’ve added to my static site generator Nebelhorn which I use to generate this website. For example, I finally have an Atom/RSS feed for my blog posts. Okay, it’s just Atom, but people tend to use the term “RSS” when they mean either of them. Anyway, about time! You can find the link to the feed in the footer.
I also reworked some parts of Nebelhorn to be more flexible, so I can easily add stuff like more feeds or post series to the site in the future. I already have some ideas there, stay tuned.
Inspired by Xe Iaso’s and fasterthanlime’s blogs I’ve created some recurring fictional characters I plan to use in future posts. I think that’ll enhance my writing in some ways:
Thinking about what some characters that were chosen to represent specific archetypes of people might say about something is hopefully a good way for me to reflect on my writing and how to improve it.
I think having some dialog and interplay between the characters will make the posts more fun to read.
It also sounds like a lot of fun to write. I know it’s cringe, and I’m doing it anyway!
Bernard (definitely not Nicolas): That’s a great idea, Nicolas! You’re very smart and cool. But where are those characters you’re talking about?
Thank you. I’m still working on preparations there, but that should be done in time for my next post. So far, I’ve prepared a speech bubble component (as you can see) and added Bernard as a placeholder character.
I’ve also thought about my writing style in general. I think I had this assumption in my head that when you write a tech blog you have to be serious about it and write professionally, so people take it seriously. Or something like that. In the future, I want to have more fun writing. This is my website after all, not a resume, so I’ll make things a bit more casual.
I’ll also try to dial my perfectionism down a bit. I have a few drafts for posts I never published because I wasn’t quite satisfied, kept expanding them and then ended up losing interest. So I’ll try to remember that not every post must be a comprehensive essay on all areas of a topic. I’ve also written some quite long posts on Mastodon in the last months which I enjoyed, and I might try taking that style of writing to my blog here.
I also really enjoyed writing my last two posts about installing NixOS on Raspberry Pi’s, so I’ll try to do more of those write-ups of projects I do. I have my master’s thesis coming up, and maybe that’ll be a good opportunity to write some posts about my journey with Agda.
Lab & Work
I’ve also started work on pages for my educational stuff that I want to do more with in the future. And as the end of my time as student is nearing, I’ve also started preparing a work page where you’ll be able to find information about my skills and how to hire me (I’m also thinking of doing freelance work). I’ve had employers reach out to me in the past after some of my more popular posts, so I thought that I should canalize that more.
Lastly, when I started this blog, I set up a Discourse forum that I used for this blog, but also my podcasts. The forum has never been used a lot, it’s slow, and its deployment and maintenance is a nightmare, so I’m sunsetting it. It’s currently in read-only mode and when I find the time I’ll archive its content (it’s not a lot anyway) and then finally shut it down.
Instead, as I’ve been using Mastodon more and really enjoyed it, the preferred variant to comment on posts is via Mastodon / the Fediverse. I’m planning to add a feature to show replies from over there here on the blog.