On redesigning my website and frameworks

It’s been something that I should have done quite a long time ago: freshen up my personal website. I’ve been holding off on it, mainly due to mental headspace not being available to focus on this. But, it became time to get thinking about it once again.

So, I can say that I’ve started working on a new version of my website, but it will take a while before it is actually online.

Let me take you through the process.


I’ve been building sites for a very long time - in fact, my first websites were probably made in Frontpage and Dreamweaver MX 2004, and used tables for design! Can you imagine, using HTML tables for design? Me neither. After writing my CSS for my websites myself for years, I switched over to the CSS-framework Foundation. I think I started using it around 2012, with Foundation 2, but I have to be honest and refer that I might not remember when I started using it exactly. It has been, and has remained, my CSS-framework of choice. Where Bootstrap used abbreviations all over the place, Foundation chose a more semantic approach which resonated well with me. So whenever I started working in projects, I invariably ended up throwing out the Bootstrap (that was automatically added… looking at you, Laravel!) and switched over to Foundation.

In essence, almost all of my personal projects ended up using Foundation, no doubt about that. But, I had to be honest to myself a few months ago: it looks like Foundation is well and truly dead - barely any development has happened over the last few years. The last big update to Foundation, 6, is something that has launched over 5 years ago and while Foundation used to be on top of everything that changed in CSS-land, that has long ceased to be the case. So, with pain in my heart, I decided to go ahead and look into a new CSS framework. I never quite liked Bootstrap, so I wanted to avoid it at all costs. I loved UI Kit, and spent some time getting to learn it. I also tried Bulma and several others. Tailwind was also something that I saw, but I quickly decided against it: it simply isn’t a workflow I like to use. I’ve learnt to seperate content and styling as much as possible, and I feel like Tailwind is making me do inline-CSS, which I thoroughly dislike, so for that reason, I decided against it.

I quickly did notice that most CSS frameworks seemed to be quite low in development: in fact, most of them seem to have barely any movement at all for the last few years!

So, with that in mind, I decided to look into why this sentiment was true. Upon investigating, I learnt that CSS had moved significantly over the last few years - always using a framework tends to keep you away from those changes. It seems like CSS is a lot more capable these days compared to years ago, so it looks like I’ll be giving Vanilla CSS (after a normalize-treatment) the chance and tried and spruce up my CSS skills and see what we can do without a framework!

Site generator

For the last few years, I’ve been using Hugo for my website. In fact, if I look into the post dates, I notice that I’ve been running on Hugo for nearly 5 years, and I’m quite happy with it.

Since I used Hugo so early on, things did change, and building my website broke on newer version of Hugo. I’ve fixed those issues in my theme, and it now gladly builds cleanly again. For the last few months, I’ve moved my blog to Render, who host my blog for free now - not that I don’t have my own server running, I just liked their offer and the simplicity behind it. And, what I’ve always learnt, keep some websites out of your own infrastructure. Should something go wrong with your infra, it means that some pages are still online.

So, for the new design/refresh, I’ll be sticking with Hugo. I might change my idea about this, but working more and more with Golang, Hugo gives me a good feeling about it.

Wrapping up

So, to keep it short: expect a radical redesign of the website soon-ish, since until now, most changes to the design have been small incremental changes. Expect something more radical soon.

  • Kev

Posted on Wednesday, 28 September 2022