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Why I moved my site to Gatsby + Netlify

Unnecessary Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, though if you went to a search engine and typed in “Why I moved to GatsbyJS” or “Why I switched to Netlify”, you’d believe that someone was running around the web paying developers to write lots of posts exactly like this one. Below I outline the personal reasons why I chose the two of them for this new version of my site, and I leave out the more obvious reasons of “FAST!” and “FREE!“.

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Designing for myself is difficult

In true procrastinator fashion, I tend to only update my website when I’m looking for a job, which is good and bad - good because I have so much to add to my website that I’m inspired (required, really) to redesign it, and bad because I can’t stay unemployed forever while that redesign is taking place.

I’m the kind of person who agonizes over personal design choices to the point that it depletes a lot of my energy, leading me to give in easily to distractions as an escape from having to make firm decisions. I really should be one of those designers who hires another designer for their personal brand. I’d rather clean my house with a toothpick than have to design a logo for myself.

My tendency to shut down over personal design decisions is the complete and total opposite of how I am in the workplace, and it makes no sense. I know myself and I know that when it comes to creating things that have to represent only me, for the sake of having something out there to send people to, quick is best.

Not interested in your awards

When I look back on past versions of my website, I am fully aware that none of them were going to win any Site of the Day awards, and that’s just fine. Instead of agonizing over aesthetic, I used thorough, written case studies as the primary focus on my site.

Alright, I’ll admit that I just lied a little bit in that last paragraph. I’d spend actual, full days looking at and choosing fonts for the site…just to end up hating them months later.

Maybe only honing in on the fonts, and neglecting everything else – knowing that I’m going to just want to throw it all away in a week – keeps me from pouring more energy into it in the first place. 🤷‍♀️

Needs to grow with me

My website goals currently center around showcasing my career focus: a jumble of Product Design and Front End Development.

There are certainly a lot of templated solutions out there for showcasing flat images in carousels with a blog and a contact form tacked onto it. My last website used one of them, and it cost me $16/month…and I hated it.

I hated the super slow page builder that wouldn’t let me add custom CSS classes to anything or write raw HTML; how I didn’t have a way to preview my changes before they went live; how I was locked into a template that wasn’t very forgiving for displaying screenshots.

So, why not go with something like Wordpress for this latest version of my site? Well, I’ve gone there. Many times. And I don’t hesitate to recommend Wordpress for people that need what it offers, and want to pay more than $20/month to have it. Which leads me to my next point…

Stop the insanity

I used Netlify at my last job to host a copy of Storybook. Netlify provides a CDN that can serve up whatever static assets you want to bring into it, for free. It’s dead simple to use, and is less accident-prone and cumbersome than FTP.

I shied away from using something like GatsbyJS in the past because…well, I felt like it wasn’t hard enough to use. I know that sounds counter-intuitive. My past self felt that if there wasn’t a lot of code that I could see in folders when I opened up a project, what’s there must not be able to do much. I’ve finally gotten over that and am appreciating how much I can focus on my content instead.

So far, I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know how things work in GatsbyJS, and there’s a lot that I still don’t know. I’m building and adding things to my site even as I write this. Some things are broken and I’m still trying to figure out why. And I haven’t had this much fun working on my website in, well, forever.

And yes, I did change the font used on my site about a week ago.