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Writing a custom website for blogging or using a template?

simvolick profile image Simvolick ・1 min read

What is your take guys on starting to blog on your custom blog and so spending time to code at tweek with the html and backend? Or just diving straight into writing blog articles while using templates?

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billraymond profile image
Bill Raymond

When I built my last few sites, they used Wordpress or template sites from wix or squarespace. I’ve heard webflow is really good but haven’t tried it.

Anyway, I found that every last thing I wanted needed another plugin, another JavaScript injection, another html tweak, etc. All those plugins had their own style sheets or hard coded features. By the time the site was done, I felt like I had a Frankenstein’s monster of a site. Any time I wanted to just post something, I would see warnings, required updates, or another tweak that had to be made.

When I finally sat down to write for my blog, I felt exhausted from the upkeep and I was no longer in the mental space to feel creative.

Over the last few months, I had some spare time, because pandemic, and I decided to just create a nice clean static site using Jekyll. To be sure, you have to do a lot, such as defining the underlying structure (css, html, grids? Flexgrids? JavaScript? Etc). You then have to decide if you want someone else’s code running your site, like a theme, and that’s where I said “No. I left Wordpress because of that, I’m not doing it again”.

Fast forward to today, my site is just about to launch. I created my own site from scratch, so when I see something wrong, it feels good to change the code because it is something I wrote, follows my coding standards (such as they are), and I can feel proud of it.

Now, this isn’t without its challenges. I created my site with Jekyll and css grids, but since I was just learning them at the time, I ended up re-writing a whole bunch of code for optimization and reuse. Also, I had to learn saas/scss to create a responsive site and that was harder than I thought, but now it’s pretty easy.

Another challenge is compatibility. My site displays great in modern browsers, but as you might imagine, it looks horrendous on IE. I have clients that still use IE, but I finally said screw It, I’m just going to put some JavaScript that injects into the site and tells them to use edge, chrome, or Firefox. I’m doing that next week before I wipe my hands clean of hard core development on the site.

My site isn’t fancy, but I am proud of it and love how easy it is to maintain. I plan to update the site with more detail and add features as I go, but it actually feels good doing it whereas before I felt like I was hacking someone else’s code.

One last thing.., when I wanted to make changes with Wordpress, a lot of stuff just didn’t work locally and I had to keep a whole infrastructure up to date. With Wix and Squarespace, you can play around with changes, but it feels clunky to me. I love the fact I can just fire up visual studio code, run Jekyll, then see my changes in real time on the browser and sync to GitHub when ready.

For reference, my site is:
Https://Cambermast.com

Here is my public repo for the site:
github.com/BillRaymond/cambermast-...

Here is the playlist for the YouTube videos I create as I’m learning:
youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWzwUIY...

Hope this helps! Also I wrote this on my phone, so sorry about any spelling or grammatical errors.