Bleeping Awesome Beta Blog!

Finally.

After many days and nights of working hard I have finally uploaded the beta version of my site. So far I am really proud of what I have done so far.  There is still a lot to do, and I plan on going all out, using as many new technologies as I can to see what I can do.

Performance

One of the important focuses I have while building this site is learning how to make everything run as fast as possible. Whether that means compressing images a lot or modifying the expiration on served assets, I’ll be taking care of it all. Currently using Yslow my site gets a rating of 92. Not half bad! The only other changes I could make to impact that would be using a CDN or doing cookie-less domain stuff, which I don’t really need to do.

On Pingdom everything looks good as well.  The site gets a 99/100 performance grade (damn you Google Fonts). Oddly enough it looks like 71% of the time my site is waiting on Apache reverse lookups and I am trying to find a solution to solve that, so if you have an ideas let me know! 😎 Using Grunt has helped a lot since I merge and minify most of my CSS/Scripts except for the ones that come with the few plugins I use.

Design

Google’s Material Design guidelines served as inspiration for me. In particular I like their approach to handling shadows via inferred global lighting and how animations are created to “make sense” of the changing user interface. There are a lot of developers out there with really fancy websites that have crazy animations and effects which are awesome but not really what I wanted to do.  Since I try and blog as much as possible I really wanted a layout that focused on the content instead of aesthetics .

The homepage consists of a layout of cards which are a modified post content format. This makes it really easy to see a quick overview of the various topics the site is about without overloading you with a lot of copy. Eventually I would like to use AJAX to load each segment of paginated posts in but for now I think it works just fine.

One of the things I would like to fix the most is the slide out menu on the right. It works great on tablets and phones but on desktops it is too far away from the center content area and I need to either find a better solution or I may end up using a full screen menu.

Content pages have changed a lot and for the better. The featured images now span full width and the copy is a larger size which makes reading a lot more enjoyable. Since there is little to deal with in terms of layout, it all scales down nicely. At some point down the road I will create some page template types for special posts and more enriched content.

Tools

During the design phase of this project I used Sketch as it was the perfect time to learn a new program.  It is probably the best design software I have used in a long time and it is tailored towards website and app design. Everything is vector based and styling falls within the constraints of what the web can do i.e shadows can only look the way that they would using CSS.  There are a lot of plugins out there that extend Sketch and allow you to export CSS/SCSS, HTML, and even multiple sizes of images.

Foundation 5 comes with Bower and Grunt and I made sure to use both extensively during this project. In the past I just used Compass, but I am glad I made the change as I feel it helped decrease the setup time. Bower allows you to download packages either through its own repositories or Github urls. This is great because you can package manage all of your libraries and update them all from the command line. Grunt is definitely the hero of this story though because it allows you to do all sorts of automated tasks. I was using it to compile my SASS and minify it while also doing the same to my Javascript files.

More to come

There is still a lot left to do and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Lots of changes are happening in my personal life so I hope that they do not interfere with all of the great ideas I have in store. The one thing I have always liked about websites is that they are never finished, at least not if you plan on it being successful.  Anyways, thanks for stopping by and I hope that you like the direction the new site is going!

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