Axel Valdez

Designer based in Hermosillo, Mexico. Websites, Apps, logo, illustration, lettering, HTML and CSS.

New Website!

I’ve been meaning to build a proper personal website for years. The blockers are always the same: the design isn’t good enough, I don’t have enough content for the sections I want to include, day work takes over and I never have the chance to code it all, etc.

The Story

A couple days ago I couldn’t sleep and I was thinking just about that. Then I decided to do an exercise: to define the minimal website I could create with the content I already had on hand. No extensive image preparation, no case studies, no decoration, even. Just a simple layout for the content I already had.

I quickly made a list of content and sketched out a very rough layout and decided (seeing that I wasn’t able to sleep anyway) to give it a couple hours and see how it resulted. I quickly set up a new local site on Local by Flywheel (I work daily with WordPress and that’s my quickest route to make a website) and I got to coding.

The result was a very simple WordPress theme with the exact layout you’re seeing right now. I uploaded the work content for the home page, selected lettering exercises for the lettering section, and typed a short about page. I had bookmarked Macy.js a few months ago so I used that for masonry-style image layouts with no issues at all.

During the next day I kept on making small changes to the content and added Barba.js (which I saw earlier on Dan Perrera’s website) for asynchronous page loading and caching, along with animate.css for fancy page transitions. The minimal website was ready to go.

Enter Jekyll

That night I read a lot about static websites. I had used Jekyll in the past, but it was a couple years ago and I didn’t really remember how to set it up locally. The idea of having the full website running on GitHub was very attractive, so I decided to give it a couple more hours and try to install it and convert the WordPress theme to a Jekyll one. If everything failed, I already had a functioning website running anyway.

The surprise here was that in about 30-40 minutes I had the exact copy of the website already running locally on Jekyll. I then set up a GitHub repo, pushed the files, configured the domain (the config took a couple minutes and it resolved almost immediately).

That was it. In a couple days I solved what had been bugging me for years, and I learned a couple things in the process.

The Stack

If you’re interested, here’s a summary of what I used to build this super simple website:

Also, a few days ago I learned about Forestry, a web-based CMS that connects to a Jekyll website and puts a UI on it. I’m writing this post in its editor, but I don’t like the way it stores media (I want to upload to /media/post-name and it only supports date-based folders), so I will probably use it just for minor post edits.

I use Atom for my code, and a weird combination of AI, PS and Sketch for my images.

Have a comment? Hit me up on Twitter!

June 21, 2017