Regular visitors to this site will notice it now looks a bit worse than it used to. This is a shame but there’s a good reason for it.
The previous version of this site was costing me money. It was a WordPress site running on a lightly modified version of the Rebalance theme. I loved it, but when I got the hosting bill last month, I had to decide between:
- Coughing up £80 for another year (bear in mind this site gets about 2 visitors on a good day)
- Trying to offset the hosting costs with some kind of e-commerce manoeuvre (selling t-shirts etc.)
- Moving the site to cheaper hosting.
- Rebuilding the site with a static site generator and hosting it for free on GitHub Pages.
I ended up going for number 4, as much as anything because I wanted to see if I could do it. I played around with Jekyll and it seems to be working ok… for now…
The pages load quickly and there aren’t any adverts. So that’s all good. I think the theme needs some work. It’s a blogging theme and not really made for showing artwork. But it’ll do for now.
For posterity, here’s a brief history of this site…
This was the first website I ever made. I did it on MS Publisher and hosted it on Angelfire. Great days. I love the fact Angelfire is still going.
This was my first foray into blogging. It was back when a blog was like an online diary: you’d just write about what you’d been doing. I also wrote a few stories and stuff like that. I never found a Blogger theme that worked for displaying images though.
My older brother set me up with a Drupal site and showed me the how to use FileZilla and PHPMyAdmin to access the backend. I had no idea what I was doing and broke the site a few times. Drupal was tough. It kept telling me to run cron and it was a constant job keeping all the modules up-to-date. Eventually the site got hacked and I decided to start again from scratch.
This was a good experience. I still rate WordPress.com as the best free blogging platform out there.
2012: WordPress self-hosted
About this time I wanted to teach myself how to run my own WordPress site. That way I could tweak it and make it look more how I wanted. I spent ages moving everything across. It used the Illustratr theme, and it looked good. The only problem was that it was too slow. Page loads sometimes took ages.
2014: Static site with Foundation 5
The slowness of WordPress got me interested in static websites again. Foundation was a great way to get into this. The site was bare bones, but this meant it was really fast. I started off using PHP for the header and navigation. Later I moved the site to GitHub Pages, which is free but doesn’t let you use PHP. People usually get around this by using a static site generator like Jekyll or Hugo. I figured if I made the site even more minimalist, I could do without this. All the content was images, so I just made the homepage a big list of thumbnails and linked directly to the jpegs. This is rustic, but I still think it’s a good approach for a portfolio site. If someone loads a jpeg, most browsers show this at a fit-to-screen size. With another click, you can zoom in to the full resolution. The only trouble was that I stopped writing on the site. I had a blog for work stuff, but nowhere to write about non-work stuff.
2017: WordPress self-hosted
Das ist mein lieblingswebsite. It looked good, it loaded good.
2019: Jekyll / GitHub Pages
Here we are.