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548 Days Of Solitude - In Search Of Minimal Web Design.

Have you ever imagined a day where you can't find any ads on YouTube? What if all the pop-ups vanished suddenly from the internet? What happens when websites load at the speed of light? I've found my answer, hopefully you do to.

It's been nearly one and half years now, that I haven't coded properly. I neither regret it nor intend to show my impenitence. But I was fortunate in a way that I never lost my interest in experimenting with Static Site Generators. So you can see that I wasn't completely AFK.

My first SSG was Jekyll, initially I felt overwhelmed and after sometime I got hold of it. Static Site Generators are not as easy as you think, they also have a steep learning curve. Let's consider the example of Jekyll itself, if you have never touched Perl, definitely you have to go through the process of understanding how Pearl works, what are gems, so on and so forth. Even if you follow along, sometimes dependency and semantic errors are inevitable. If you are a newbie programmer, you would eventually give up and move on to the next best thing.

Themes That Were Pretty (Or Convenient?)

Themes are awesome. Why? They reduce your work exponentially. Go to a themes website and choose a ready made template, clone it to GitHub(if the option is available), the website would be up and running in no time.

Seems pretty easy right? Well, it depends. Generally you tend to use a template that's aesthetically pretty, looks cool to your imagination. But remember the template is not your technically, you haven't designed it yourself. It's just modifying someone else's original design to suit your needs. Again this becomes a problem, most of the times, it's easy to change some basic stuff such as the name, fonts, links etc. But it gets complicated when you want to add a new feature, such as dark mode or if you want to modify a function; in some cases, you have to change the majority of the code and so on. Eventually, if all this feels overwhelming, you would just go for a more convenient design rather than your ideal design that you've imagined earlier.

The Search In Progress

I've tried tons of themes, tweaked every single one of them, there was a time when I used to change my look of the website everyday by changing my themes now and then. After Jekyll I never looked back, I tried as much as SSGs out there - Next.js, Gatsby, Hexo, Nicola, VuePress, 11ty, Hugo etc. Recently I started learning Golang, so I wanted to try Hugo again, and understand it in a much better way. There was another good reason for me to get back to Hugo - speed and flexibility. Hugo sites are great when it comes to speed, they run smoothly and their themes are amazing. Shout out to the community!

Did I find my Holy Grail? Unfortunately no. Again it's all about the process, the learning curve and going through zillions of pages of documentation. I'm still on the streak of learning Go and understanding Hugo better, but it's not worth someone's time just to put their personal website on the Internet. I'll be using Hugo for one of my ambitious projects in the future. Keep an eye out for it.

Reached Infinity Yet?

Meanwhile in this journey, I found SSG5, if you are wondering; it's an SSG with the name SSG! A simple POSIX shell based SSG which is Markdowm compatible. As usual I was amazed to learn that it's fast and it gives me the minimal web look I intended. But it lacked some features and I was having compatibility issues, as a result it never made it to my GitHub.

Before I say anything further, let me answer this following question.

What does minimal web design mean to me?

Few days ago, I tweeted something like this:

Go check out the best website on the internet Amoghavarsha - aesthetically made, zero JavaScript, no ads, no analytics, just gives the necessary information, a classic example of suckless design with anti bloat tendencies!

Well, the above tweet sums it all up! But let me clarify few things here, I'm not against JavaScript. It's just I don't like personal or portfolio websites displaying after hundred seconds. And it also doesn't mean that all personal websites with JS are slow. Maybe in the future I might add some JS to my website. But I have seen many portfolio websites of people that are slower, even though they have a single page!

I understand the importance of Ad revenues. Many bloggers and content creators make money out of Ads. And as far as analytics is concerned, I know the advantages. But again, with all these auxiliaries it can't be called as a minimal web.

The Endgame

Let me also tell you about my lethargic attitude towards buying a domain in my name. I have bought few domains and servers in the past for my clients' websites, but I never really bothered to buy a domain for me. And it has also costed me a lot career wise. Well again it's all about my inclination towards finding my true web template. Over the years I had my website getting tinkered everyday with extension. I have also seen many successful people without their own websites, some people with extension posting some awesome content on web application security and so on.

Finally I decided to buy my own domain and write my own minimalist HTML and CSS code. It suits my definition of minimal web, gives the necessary information and it's not a bloat. I like Monospace(with some seasoning of Lucida Console) when it comes to font, a dark theme(or background) by default, colors that suite their essence and something that tells a compelling story. My solitude ends here.

Now go check out my website Amoghavarsha. I'm planning to add few more things, technology related DIYs is on my priority list. Comment below your opinion about my first article. Like, Follow, and always remember sharing is caring.

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