Rethinking my “personal” website.
Repositioning, repurposing and ultimately rebuilding and replacing my Ghost blog with a Gatsby static site.
Then & Now
The web isn’t what it used to be. Back when I started my career there used to be far more independent, personal, technical blogs, and far more content being created on them and traffic going directly to them. It was the only kind of platform for sharing lengthy discourse, and you more-or-less had to set it up and fund it yourself.
Today the barrier to entry for publishing content on the web is much lower, there are many more voices, and they’ve become more centralised into a selection of platforms. More varied types of content are created, in more mediums, and it’s become more apparent that blogs are just one of many formats of sharing information and promoting yourself.
I feel that I must have my own website, running on my own domain, because I’m a web developer. The question I’ve been asking though is:
What is the purpose of my website?
Blog, Portfolio, or Profile?
From the beginning, my website has been a blog. Originally it was based in WordPress, and then when I got more into the idea of Node.js I switched over to using Ghost.
I’m still a fan of the Markdown-based editor of Ghost, but as an already fully-formed platform it doesn’t give me the freedom to easily customise its appearance or functionality, and it’s still very focussed on being a blog.
Reviewing the websites of others gave me inspiration for what I’d like my website to contain: contact details, social media profiles, CV or Portfolio content as well as any existing blog content.
More than a blog.
I want more than a blog. I still write articles – albeit sporadically – but also I create content on different platforms and I want to incorporate all of that content into my website and centralise it. I want the ability to completely customise and extend the platform I use and have the ability to demonstrate my web development skills and “practice what I preach”.
If I’m to have anything but a blog as my personal website, I need to drop Ghost. I still want the content, which I’ll export, but it needs to just be a smaller part of the website as a whole and not the entirety of the website.
I’ve previously worked with Vue but I’m now switching over to React because that’s what we use for Front End Development at CompareTheMarket.com.
Gatsby is a project which uses React and extends it with fancy features such as static site generation. It has starter kits, both with and without built in Markdown file support, and it’s more easily completely customised than Ghost because of the familiar React base on which it’s built.
With the greater flexibility of Gatsby over Ghost, I’m expecting to be able to import my old blog content as Markdown files, render them as static content in a subsection of the website whilst also creating additional pages for things like a portfolio using familiar React component approaches.
My new, work-in-progress, personal site is online at: https://psyked.github.io