Like many a computer-nerd before me I decided to switch my blog over from WordPress to Jekyll. It's a little bit funny because I had this same thought when I started the blog earlier this year. My rational at the time was I didn't want something that would distract from the writing process. I wanted something I could mostly set and forget.
And I'd say it was largely a success in that regard. I had the ambitious goal of trying to write one post a day. This didn't always pan out but I had a very good streak from about late January through September when I took a trip to the Balkans for several weeks. I had grand visions of using that trip to convert this site into something more travel oriented (And still do to some extent, though it's more a matter of introducing more, regular travel into my life and continuing to simply write.) but I ran out of energy. When I finally came back the site looked stale and old, like a reminder of some mindset I'd been in prior to those few weeks abroad. I wanted it to look fresh and new.
I've wanted to redesign the site for a while now — I threw the old one together during an evening in Istanbul as a means to experiment with the Foundation CSS framework which I was using on another project at the time — but making a WordPress theme is never so quick and easy as it feels it should be. Plus you're bound by all these WordPress conventions — Should I have landing pages for tags and categories? Do author pages make any kind of sense here? How granular do the archives need to really be? Do I need a sidebar? What was the weird name for that one wp_ function and what were the parameters again?
Working with Jekyll was great because there was very little I had to adhere to. The idiosyncrasies of the
_config.yml were at least contained to a single file. Jekyll's simplicity actually allowed me to pursue more creative and thoughtful approaches to presenting content. The way I've built the site now it feels decidedly devoid of cruft (From a web development-y perspective at least. The writing is plenty cruft-laden, but I'm happy to continue working on this...) — there's no jQuery, no CSS framework, no extraneous markup in the header being spit-out by some plugin. It's clean but not simplistic. It's also intentional in a way it never quite was before — I'm particularly fond of the archives page and how I'll be able to expand on that going forward.
But I think what made the switch more fun was that I already had a substantial amount of content to play around with. It's makes your design choices and explorations more purposeful when you know what you're working with. Doing otherwise is a little like designing a book cover before it's been written.
I don't anticipate returning to daily writing here but I'm happy to have something personal and public-facing I can tinker with more regularly again now.