Personal Website Design is Personal

created Jun 13, 2019

A major advantage of having full control over managing a personal website is that authors can make individual web pages look however the authors desire. Nobody can dictate to the authors how web pages should look nor how the pages should be organized. It's a delightful web freedom.

This evening, I stumbled upon this March 2018 Hacker News thread that pointed to a post, titled Thoughts on Embracing the Social Internet Over Social Media.

Back in the spring of 2018, I think that I read that thread and article, or I at least saved those links, but I don't remember stumbling upon this fantastic HN comment, contained within a sub-thread.

I recently created a web site.

Just black text on white background.

I write about stuff I find interesting. So far a few unfinished pages.

I don't even think it is indexed yet.

It is my rebellion against pixel perfect audience building technical blogging and what not.

It feels good.

I might add links to other similar pages at some point.

Anyone else makes old fashioned web sites?

Here's the excellent reply:

Pretty much all websites I make are like this. It's text, it uses minimal HTML formatting and a tiny bit of javascript if absolutely necessary (HTML has no #include directive).

There is no CSS, I just use tables. Eat me.

I cracked up after reading that comment.

The discussion continued with more good commentary.

Have you looked at static page generators? Wonder if that provides the simplicity you're looking for along with optional customization. One example: https://gohugo.io

The person who started the sub-thread, posted this great reply:

Did.

Got distracted by choosing one.

Got distracted by choosing a template.

Got distracted by problems with Markdown (an8d Asciidoc).

Get distracted every time I want to write.

After I got my html "template" up and running I just copy that and write whatever I want to write.

Conclusion: for me, when writing, finding the correct tools prevented me from just writing.

(I have however spend some time on my developer tooling and feel I get a good return on investment there. Currently (for 5+ years) Netbeans and Maven, and later also VSCode + Yarn.)

That's excellent advice.

A reply to that reply:

Amen to this.

I've spent more time than I dare to admit trying to rebuild my person web site which I ran successfully from 2000-2012. Which coding framework should I use, CSS, database, hosting platform, the list goes on. I should have just spent the time writing it all in plain vanilla html (which I've now started doing).

Ironically if I'd start posting my content on a social network where I had no control over how it looked/functioned I would have spent my time actually putting together something useful.

It's easy to get distracted by the tech and forget the reason for maintaining a personal website.


Yeah, I decided to go CSSless with this post. I used my template command that exists with my Wren app, which is my web-based static site generator. I added the following command to get this brilliant look, which is similar to the best designed media website text.npr.org. Obviously, I created a template on my server called nocss that is self-explanatory.

<!-- template : nocss -->

I could add custom CSS for this page by including these Wren commands:

<!-- css_start 
    body {font-size: 24px;}
css_end -->

For each web post at sawv.org, the .html can be replaced with .txt to view the markup for the page.

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