Red vs Blue

Posted on • 4 min read

Tags: blog

Blue won.

If you're a regular to my blog (wishful thinking - you have to post more to get regulars Jake!) you will have noticed some cosmetic changes. I'm a tweaker by nature, but these aren't tweaks. Originally when I created my "JP" logo I went with red, because it's my favourite colour. I support Liverpool FC, and Ferrari F1 team, I love red, but I always remember a trader telling me, when I worked at JP Morgan, that red was a bad colour for business and that I should never use a red pen on documents! Regardless of what you think of that, I've always thought red to be an aggressive colour, and ironically, despite it being my favourite colour, I tend to prefer being surrounded by less, in your face colours - like blue! So hence the colour alterations across the board (here, Twitter, and LinkedIn when it works, it currently won't let me upload a new background image!), I've also swapped the sidebar to the left, and some other very slight changes.

In years gone by I was extremely passionate about graphic design. I'm not perhaps, as passionate about it now, but I still have some strong opinions on what makes a good logo, and what makes a good website, so I try to stick by those with my own blog. Time dependent, I hope over the next few months to transition to a self built, static HTML website, rather than using WordPress, as I currently do.

WordPress is great, it's an absolutely superb tool, but it's so much more than I need. Along with making it graphically nice to look at, I want my blog to have a strong focus on the content, and display it in a typographically simple, and pleasant to read way, and that follows through to the backend code. If I had waited to find the time to build my blog from scratch before I made it live, it still probably wouldn't be here, so I went with the rather excellent Hueman theme, (of which you're seeing a customised version), until I have the time to build a simple site myself. I've built WordPress themes in the past, and they are far from simple, and can end up incredibly bloated. Great as the theme I'm currently using is, my goodness is it complex! If it breaks, I've not got any interest in trying to fix it, because I don't have a clue how it all fits together, because I didn't build it. That's not to say I'd not try to fix it, but why rely on somebody elses work to not break, when I can simplify and create something myself? However any WordPress update could break it, and that's why I want to move away from WordPress as soon as I can.

That may take some time though, because, although I used to love web design when I was younger (I taught myself HTML & CSS at 12) I cannot stand it now! Nowadays it seems you have to worry about making your site responsive (adaptive to whatever screen size it's viewed on - even to the point that Google may downgrade you on their search listings if it's not mobile-friendly) and I just find the process of getting it right not only frustrating, but boring.

My plan is to build a simple site, with a strong focus on typography and displaying my content in a simple, elegant way, but something that doesn't take me ages to build. It may not be as fancy, but it'll be simpler - and I'm a big fan of simplicity.

I hope to use a static site generator called Jekyll, which allows you to write your posts in Markdown, convert them to HTML, and then upload them to your server. Jekyll in itself, if you look through the documentation seems far from simple, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. It is however a much simpler way of blogging, because the site is still just plain HTML, nothing complicated sitting on the serve, no databases, just simple HTML files and a CSS stylesheet.

One of the other things I notice a lot with WordPress ( a bit less since I wrapped my site with CloudFlare) is how slow it can sometimes load, (I'm talking more than 5 or 6 seconds sometimes - which may not sound long, but for the mainly text content I have on my blog I consider it far too long, and they say if you haven't got someones attention online within 10 seconds, their gone). I think it's because there's so much going on in the background. Take a look at the source of this page. It could be so much simpler if it was just plain old HTML, it would load lighteningly quick.

I'm half tempted to go the Richard Stallman route (http://stallman.org/), but that would be a bit too extreme, and boy would my content have to be good to make people stick around! At the end of the day, although I loathe web design, I still have a real appreciation for well designed sites, and cool graphic design, so something sustainable and easy to maintain is what I'm after... so watch this space!

Thanks for reading.