Website: CMD+R

February 16, 2016

Well, saying this was long overdue is sort of a massive understatement.

Here’s the redesign/rewrite/relaunch of my personal site:

The Backstory

I originally started messing around with web development/design over six years ago now… and I hadn’t realized that it was that long ago until just now. Wow. It started out as a small hobby and something I was just learning to do during my down time. I can look back on the days when all I knew how to do was some basic HTML and couldn’t even style it. It’s pretty crazy how much things have changed. Along the way I eventually got more interested in making a website for myself and I wanted to make it look nice. I suppose it all really kicked off about two or three years ago now when I had the opportunity to work as a web development intern for a year. It was during this time that I really got a look at some of the bigger concepts in web design and it was here that I got my first introduction to the Bootstrap framework. Up until this point I was doing everything from scratch and it was a pain. There are plenty of good frameworks out there but Bootstrap still remains my favorite.

I took some of this knowledge home with me and started messing around with it until I had a functioning website. At the time I had bought a domain simply to use for email but I realized that if anyone ever tried to go to that domain it would be blank. That wouldn’t do. So I made a super simple landing page to start out with, just so it wouldn’t be blank. Eventually that wasn’t enough either and I added in a couple pages with a short ‘About Me’ and ‘Contact’ sections just to fill it out. Sadly, this is how my site remained for far too long. I found myself busy with other projects and things in life and never got around to sprucing it up. That all changes today, though.

With the launch of my first iOS app, I realized that the old site was too far gone. I needed a revamp for what was essentially my billboard to the world. So, in some spare time over the last week, I got to work on it.

The New Stuff

So I feel comfortable in saying that I’ve had a bit of practice with front-end web development. Although that’s true, it had been a while since I had even touched HTML and the only coding I had done recently had been in Swift. So starting out was a bit rough. I needed to re-familiarize myself with a few things and look at some examples to start making things click again. It took longer than I had hoped if I’m being honest, but then the wheels finally started turning again and I got started.

I decided that I wanted to continue to use Bootstrap early on in the process. It was what I was most familiar with and, upon my review of things, it still seemed to be one of the best options out there for what I needed. Next was figuring out my work environment. I had previously been using Sublime Text but when I went back to it I felt a bit underwhelmed. I was coming from using Xcode almost constantly for the last month and while I still think Sublime is a great, light-weight text editor, I just found myself wanting more. So after a bit of searching around and trying things out I landed on Atom, made by the people over at Github. It’s another pretty light-weight text editor but installing plugins may be the easiest that I’ve ever seen in an application of it’s kind. I’ve always dreaded trying to figure out how to get plugins to run but in Atom it was as simple as searching for what you want and hitting an install button. After reading an article or two on the more popular plugins and installing a few, it felt like a powerhouse. I’m pretty impressed with Atom and definitely plan to continue to use it in the future.

I started out with a blank file. I didn’t want to just build off of my old work because it was fundamentally different from what I wanted to do this time around. This time I was thinking of more of a single page design containing all the normal information, with more detailed stuff out on separate pages. I took a couple of concepts from my old code but other than that the only thing copied over was some of the content text. I thought that if I wanted to do a full redesign that I should just do a full rewrite to make it easier on myself.

And so now I have this to show for it. Not too shabby if I say so myself. I feel like the design is a much better fit for what I wanted and what my needs are now. It will remain a work in progress, as most things do, and I’m sure I’ll be subtly tweaking things here and there in the months to come. I’m happy with this fresh coat of paint though. I think it’ll be a great place to build from.