Switching to jekyll: design decisions
19 May, 2016 • Viktor Bengtsson • 3 minutes to read
“You start a question, and it's like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others...”
― Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
I have written about deciding to switch away from Wordpress. Well: it is done. I have, finally transferred my content from Wordpress to a static site generated with Jekyll. Doing the actual transfer only took a couple of hours, and most of that time was spent tinkering with themes. The actual Jekyll setup just takes a few minutes. So why then did it take about two months for me to get the new site up and running? Well, I got a new job, switched between different themes a few times, and decided to go over all the posts I had on the old site.
So was it easy? Yes and no. If your frame of reference for "easy" is a few clicks of the mouse, then setting up Jekyll isn't exactly easy. It does require rolling up your sleeves and doing some work in the terminal. But in comparison to coding a site "by hand", installing Jekyll is a breeze. Even with minimal experience of working in a terminal, Jekyll really isn't much harder to set up than Wordpress.
There are a lot of good themes out there, most of them free to use under MIT license or Creative Commons, and with Jekyll being on the bleeding edge of modern design so are the themes made for it.
I have made a number of new design choices in setting up this new site.
- A modern theme: Mobile-friendly (I hope).
- A focus on text: Text is front and center in this theme.
- No pointless images: Only images that tell a story or are integral to the text
- No analytics: If you want to visit this site, that's your business, not mine. My business is writing.
- No scripts or comments: Feel free to send me an mail. Or write on your own site. (Bye bye spam.)
Why no analytics?
I have nothing against analytics in general. In fact I rely on them in my work. I don't like being tracked everywhere I go on the web, so I run the usual browser plugins to prevent that. But analytics (and limited tracking) are wonderful tools when used with restraint. I'm not selling anything here, and I'm not targeting or trying to retain a specific audience, so there really isn't much point in analytics for me.
At some point we as a society are going to have to make a decision as to what balance we want to strike between the utility and danger of tracking online. But, that's a discussion for another post.
The new site is about 33 megabytes large. Images make up 98.6% of that size. That is considerably slimmer than my previous site, but I could probably still make it a bit slimmer by optimizing the images. Still, I'm going to call this a job well done and move on to writing content instead.
I like tablets, but only to look at, not to use. I find that the lack of a physical keyboard drastically decreases the utility of any device. Since I already sound like a web luddite from 1997 at this point, I might as well admit that I still miss my Nokia with a slide-out keyboard. I once used that phone to install and configure a Wordpress site (with a Symbian FTP and SSH client) from a shoddy GPRS connection in the middle of the African bush. ↩