Everyday Rails

Thoughts on Everyday Rails 2020 redesign

By Aaron Sumner, September 17, 2020.

I’m really excited to launch the first major visual update to Everyday Rails in five years! It’s been fun putting it together, and I’m really liking the new look.

I wrote a similar post when I last updated the site’s design back in 2015, and I figured I’d do something similar this time around to talk about the tools I used, the decisions I made, and the plans I have going forward for the 2020 edition of Everyday Rails.

Decisions

  • Cleaner and lighter: I hate to say it, but I tired of reading content on the previous version within a few weeks after making the switch. That was kind of the height of using custom web fonts everywhere, as I recall. I’ve switched to the default sans serif font used by Tailwind CSS, and don’t feel a need to switch it out anytime soon.

    I also like that the simpler font lends to an overall lighter feel to the site. The layout is almost identical, but it feels easier to read and navigate to me. I hope you agree.

  • Still sticking with Jekyll: The static site generation landscape has increased a great deal in the last five years. Jekyll still does what I need, though I had a rough time trying to upgrade, and put this project on hold for a few months as a result. I’m intrigued by projects like Bridgetown and 11ty, but that’s for another time.

  • No more comments: I dropped comments last time, then reinstated them shortly after upon reader request. I’m not doing that again this time–I no longer trust services like Disqus, and don’t feel like rolling my own solution right now for such a low-use communication mechanism. I have noticed some technical blogs using GitHub issues as makeshift blog discussion tools, though, and may consider something like that at some point.

Tools

  • Tailwind CSS: I have to admit, the first time I looked at Tailwind CSS, I didn’t get it. Then I began watching the screencast tutorial series, and quickly became hooked. My use of it is admittedly simple so far, but the new look came together in hours–probably not much more time than it would’ve taken to tweak things for a new version of something like Bootstrap, and significantly less time than CSS from scratch would have taken me. Tailwind has made web design fun for me again for the first time in awhile, and I recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

  • Netlify: Everyday Rails has been hosted on Netlify for some time now. I’ve been enjoying watching the JAMstack grow in capability and popularity for the past year or so, and appreciate no longer needing to manage my own server to host this site. I really appreciate how easy it is to publish via a Git deploy and preview new builds via pull requests. I’ve also finally got a contact form on the site, thanks to their forms service. Netlify just works.

Still to come

  • Tailwind refactoring: I’m learning Tailwind as I go, and know there are places I could extract styles or just do things a little better to make things more manageable in the long run.

  • Fix code highlighting: I’m honestly not sure how long this has been broken, but I’d like it to be not broken at some point.

  • Analytics replacement: I dislike that I still use Google Analytics. I’m really only interested in seeing in broad strokes which posts are popular, so I can write more about those topics. But the alternatives I’ve seen either require too much manual effort, or are too cost-prohibitive for me to justify running. I’ll keep looking.

  • Other tweaks as needed: I spot checked some representative posts, but no doubt missed something that needs special attention. I’ll get to these as I find them, but if you see something that looks out of place in the new theme, please let me know so I can address it.

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