Redesigning my website

I am thinking about moving from WordPress to another CMS, and I thought it could also be a great opportunity to change the design of my website.

But before talking design, let me try to explain how I ended up with that sudden envy of redesigning my website.

I am currently using a WordPress theme called McLuhan, developed by Anders Norén. It’s a great theme, I like:

  • its simplicity, its simple design, its speed and its lightness
  • the homepage that lists all the blog posts on a single and simple column
  • to be able to use a cover image on my pages and blog posts
  • the fact it’s easy to set up and not full of crappy heavy gibberish stuff that relies on third parties dependencies I must install to be able to correctly use the theme
I used to dig the web A LOT to find a simple WordPress theme that would fit my needs. And in my opinion, Anders Norén makes some of the best ones, and for free. You should have a look on his website, to discover his themes but also his blog.

Why am I considering moving away from WordPress?

WordPress isn’t bad at all, but regarding my basic needs, I think the back office is overloaded and heavy, sometimes slow, and full of unnecessary features. Also, there are too much notifications, always, to update things… Finally, the fact that we must pair it with a database is, I think, too much for me.

But as I wrote above, WordPress is a good CMS and I’m used to it for many years. It’s easy to set up, there are plethora of themes, and despite being overloaded it fits my needs and works well.

So why moving away? I think the main reason is I want to try something else, something lighter, and I also want to dig in some geeky stuff to fill the time I spend in front of a computer screen. I enjoy that.

Over the past few years, I have become quite interested in content management using flat files. So I made some research, and I found two services that seems great:

  • Kirby, a CMS working with flat-files but also offers a customizable back office
  • Blot, a unique way of creating a website from files and folders that lives on your computer

Both are paid services, though.

While I was discovering those two services, and especially the communities that have been built around each of them, I have discovered so many cool personal websites with interesting content and great writers, and I have browsed the this part of the web so much that I suddenly felt the urge to rethink the design of my own site.

A new design

So, here we are. Before moving from WordPress, I said to my self “Hey, let’s try to make a new design!”

I’m not a professional designer, but it’s a hobby and I know a bit of this and that, and I’ve tinkered around a bit in the past.

I had rules, though:

  • A simple design
  • A homepage that lists all my articles
  • A simple navigation menu for a few different pages
  • Being able to continue to use cover images at the top of pages/articles, and in general being able to post larger images than on my current theme.
  • A design that would not be too hard to transform into a template for whatever the tech stack I would chose. Because, even if I can dig into some HTML and CSS, the more time passes, the more I feel left behind on this topic. And I’m not a developer, so even if I think I can handle some template language, I know I have my limits.

With that in mind, I opened Figma to make some mock-ups. After a few short hours, below is the result I came up with — click to enlarge.

The homepage
The homepage
An article
An article
The About page
The About page

I even made a small and simple prototype to try to imagine how it would feel to navigate on this new design:

And for the more curious people, here is what the Figma file looks like:

The Figma file

And now?

That’s not a revolutionary design, for sure. It’s very simple and it looks like a lot of other websites. But I had fun to make it and to write about it.

The next steps are:

  • Turn this Figma file into working HTML/CSS pages
  • Turn the HTML/CSS into a template for the future solution I will chose to run my website and manage my content

As I wrote above, I’m neither a designer nor a developer. Also, this website is a hobby, and I can’t spend as much time on it as I would like to. So, it might take months, maybe years, before I end up with a new design on this website. It might also change a bit. During all this time, who knows if I won’t change my current WordPress theme for another one (or tweak it). Or maybe I’ll download/buy a theme for a new CMS I may pick up. Or maybe I will continue using WordPress.

After all, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve made these mock-ups mostly for fun, and the most important thing to me is to have a great platform on which to publish content.

We’ll see. Until then, I hope to publish some more content.