Switching to a lighter blog

3rd June 2020

Recently, I'd had a change of heart. My previous web design was bloated. A while back, I was really taken in by the spirit of "chicken-shit minimalism", best explained in the excellent presentation by Maciej Cegłowski. So I grabbed a copy of Materialize and designed a clean looking site. The content was quick to load and got to use a soft shade of blue.

It looked like pretty much any other materialize site, the same flat material icons mixed with subtle and less-subtle shadows. It loaded in under two seconds, way under, and was less than 100kb. Pretty good right?

The problem was, when I saw "minimalism" I assumed that that meant frameworks. I mean, frameworks like WordPress add a bunch of weight (although I am not knocking their features - everything has it's place - but for my site which is 99% text, with no interaction, it wasn't necessary.

So I was using a bunch of css and js, but running it through Chrome's coverage tool revealed that - for the most part - it was all unused. And why wouldn't it be? Again, this is a straight text site. There is no flashy content here, 'cause I'm boring. I had some tables maybe? But essentially most of the css covered areas like viewports I'd never use, and it was pointless. I had a situation where my styling rules were 10 to 100 times larger than the longest blog post I had. And I waffle a lot.

So I redesigned. You can see for yourself, as I've added my css as the attractive 'unsafe-inline' <style> tag at the top of every page. Now every page loads in one request, and for once, my content is greater than it's formatting rules. As before, I'm still writing the whole thing myself, in either vim or sublime text, although the lure of Hugo is great. Watch this space, those tags and yaml are beaut. But for now, I'm writing in a way I enjoy, and without having to make a million class declarations every time I do something.

I really enjoyed the unique art-style behind Parimal Satyal's site and the sites linked from there. It's from there that I realised a simple border round an <article> tag is as impactful as any crazy blur.

For more websites with a similar approach, there's a small group bringing back webrings. Now I wasn't born when these came about, but it certainly looks interesting. In a time where the Wired homepage takes seconds to load (in 2020!), returning to simpler sites like Parimal's and ycombinator is refreshing. There's more than enough guff on the Internet without having to wait 3 seconds for jQuery to load it in a tag at a time.