I’ve been thinking about redesigning my personal website for a couple of semesters now. I had written it during my freshman year of university a couple years ago and handn’t touched it since. I wanted a better design, more utility (which would hopefully implicitly follow), and for the site itself to be a genuine representation of myself.

Here’s a video showcasing my original website:

What it doesn’t show is a typo that wasn’t pointed out to me until a couple of weeks ago. Cloudflare said I had a little more than 100 views in the month before I fixed the typo. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Design

When I went about making my original site, I took inspiration from the current trends and used Bootstrap to mimic a landing page. I used the cover example by just stripping away the code I didn’t like. The typing effect is thanks to Matt Boldt’s Typed.js library. I thought it was one of the coolest things I had done so far (and hopefully the recruiters would think so too!). The Github and LinkedIn SVGs even turned white when you hovered over them.

That was where the positives ended for me, though. As much as I love that picture of Los Angeles, I thought the white text against the background image was a little hard to read. It also took too long to load; the text would begin typing before the background image appeared. I wasn’t a big fan of the default grey SVGs since they were hard to spot. The resume button lazily redirected to a PDF.

During a period of interviews, I found the engineering manager’s personal website. They made it using Jekyll, which I had heard about but had never seen it implemented. They even maintained a fairly regular blog where I learned a lot about them and their work.

So here we are on my blog on a site using Jekyll! After scouring a few sites for a theme I settled on al-folio, a derivative of the folio theme. I liked the spacing and minimalist aspect of folio (ed was also a finalist), but I liked that al-folio’s home page uses the about Markdown file. Coming with Latex support was also a plus. Helvetica is starting to grow on me.

I liked the aesthetic Jekyll gave me access to, and the native blogging support supplied a great deal of utility.

Utility

My original website wasn’t the most helpful thing in the world. Recruiters could find my resume and a link to my Github on my LinkedIn page. The text didn’t say a whole lot that would distinguish me (it was also a bit of a gimmick) that couldn’t be put on my LinkedIn bio. There wasn’t a reason to visit my website. More importantly, there wasn’t a reason for me to maintain it.

Jekyll’s blogging feature allowed my personal website to become more personal. My site became a little slice of the Internet that I could share opinions or ideas on with added purpose (I could have easily blogged on Medium with less effort). Now my posts, projects, resume, and anything else are centered in one location.

Of course, if I had dedicated the time then I would have adored my original website for the same reasons. I could have added a blog, an about page, etc. Recently though, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to leave it to the experts. Why try adding those components to my original codebase when there exists a tool that can do it for me? There are some things that I would like to try to build that have already been implemented (like a derivative calculator) in a manner far more elegant than I could probably manage, but that’s because those things interest me. I’ve realized that frontend work is not appealing, at least when it’s not necessary.

Genuineness

I remarked earlier that I thought (or hoped) that recruiters would be mildly pleased when they saw the mildly fancy JavaScript on my site. I thought it was cool too since the whole page had a minimalist, colorful aspect to it. Unfortunately, I don’t think it reflected anything about me very well because my eye for design or skill with JavaScript are not the things I wanted to market (not that the latter was emphasized anyways). Like I said, frontend work is not what I am or would like to be focusing on.

I’m still not sure what I want to market, but I know I wanted something that I could say talked about me. What better way to achieve that than having something where I can talk?

Next Steps

  • Figure out how to fix that annoying footer to the actual foot of the page.
  • Add some more color somewhere
  • Better navigation (link highlighting)
  • Talk about my (somewhat irrational) dislike for Electron
  • Put resume in resume page
  • Put projects in project page