I am BARRY HESS > Blog

Why I Went HTML Only

I rebuilt my site with HTML & CSS.

Since this winter I have been playing a ton with my personal website. The version I was still working with over the winter was a blog software based on Ruby Sinatra. The blog had been running on it for around twelve years. It had a little database, it supported Markdown, and over all it was pretty simple. Still, it started seeming too complex for what it needed to be.

I spent a couple weeks thinking about changing the site to be built with a static site generator like Jekyll or Hugo. It felt like this would be simpler, but as I played around with these options I started to feel like things were actually getting more complex. After all I was pretty comfortable with the little blog software I'd lived with for ten years.

So I abandoned that idea for something else; something I hadn't done in fifteen years or so. I started using a third-party software. Micro.blog is an application I had tried in the past, but it hadn't quite clicked. This time I vowed to really dig in, and it turns out I do really like the service. There are plenty of templates, which you can customize yourself (I did not do that because it seemed too complex) and you can also insert your own CSS (which I did do to a complex degree). It's sometimes a bit hard to follow how you are to do things, but overall I quite like it.

One thing I really got interested in is the social side of Micro.blog. There is a fun, polite little community behind the scenes there. They are easy to talk to and interact with, and I grew to enjoy this new type of online social interaction. What I didn't love was intermingling my own microposts with my longer blog posts. The default landing page was a mix of both. I could improve this by providing navigation to longer-form posts, but it didn't quite feel right. I could also handle it with more in-depth template customization or the use of some available plugins, but that seemed challenging. Then I happened upon…

Bradley Taunt's efforts to go back to the basics and build a static site: HTML and CSS all the way. (He has since went even further and built a plain text site.) Seeing this and other similar ideas, I got energized to rebuild things all over again. And so I rebuilt my site with HTML & CSS. It was super fun to build and made it easy to add custom sections like Commonplace, Site History, and my now page. Since each static page is self-contained, down the road I can easily build pages that have wholly different designs than the primary site. I'm looking forward to what is possible!