A Redesign

If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you’ve probably already noticed there have been some changes in the structure and layout of my website. While it may look similar to the previous version, the site is actually completely rebuilt from the ground up. Rather than going into the technical details of the redesign, I thought I’d share my process and reasoning behind the choices I’ve made. Let’s see if you can spot the common thread behind each decision!

Why a redesign?

During the last year, some of my posts have received substantial traffic so, in theory, there was nothing wrong with the layout. However, as I’ve been starting to share short excerpts of posts that I’ve found inspiring, I noticed that the previous design didn’t work exceptionally well with that format. The new design systems offers greater flexibility without making the site feel bloated.

Design

From a design perspective, I wanted to keep the ultra-simple look that I had previously, but take it even one step further and focus solely on the reading experience. I wanted to keep using Neutral which is a fantastic, clean, and modern typeface hosted through Fontstand. I’ve paired Neutral with a more retro mono typeface called Input Sans Condensed from DJR.

As someone who preaches about accessibility, I wanted to make sure that my site is WCAG AA+ approved, so that even visually impaired people can experience my content.

Technology

Perhaps the biggest shift has been in terms of the technologies I used. While I used to run my site on Wordpress, like so many others, I’ve started to experience it’s limitations. The fact that Wordpress runs from a database and makes queries to that database is something that consumes bandwidth making it slower for you, the user. Considering the humble size of my website, I’m almost obsessed with making it as fast as possible. After a quick survey with people far more capable of choosing the correct solution than me, I’m now happy to say that my site uses Jekyll. Jekyll compiles pages into a static website making it far faster and less vulnerable to compromise than anything using a database.

As I’m terrified of using the terminal to upload and edit websites, I’ve found a solution that I’m so far extremely content with. I’m having the entire site uploaded to Github, a repository for code that offers great version controlling capabilities. A brilliant service called Buddy, then gets notified of a new push to Github and recompiles the website (e.g making all links work, checks for errors etc). Once the build is complete, it uploads the ‘new’ iteration to DigitalOcean. (Edit: It now also purges the cache over at Cloudflare before sending me a private Slack message notifying me that it’s all good.) Bam! Zero terminal required and a fast, backed up, secure website for a non-technical person like myself.

I should admit that none of the above would have been possible without the help of Alexander Hansson. Thank you!

Newsletter

If you’re arriving here from my newsletter, you’ve already experienced the biggest (visual) change! If not, this is a good opportunity to sign up and get my newsletter next week. After trying out Drip for almost a year, I’ve decided to move back to Mailchimp. While Drip offers some great automation tools and segmenting options, it was more complicated than what I actually need. Mailchimp’s simplicity and usability won me over.

If you’re looking to get started with Mailchimp, I highly recommend Paul Jarvis’ Chimpessentials. It’s a great online course that covers just about everything that you need to know to start your own newsletter, even if you have literally zero experience.

Shop

The final technical shift has been from the e-commerce solution behind my book sales. I started with Gumroad and then moved to Woocommerce as I thought it made more sense running Wordpress. While WooCommerce might seem like a affordable alternative (it’s free!), adding the extensions I needed quickly affected the final price. I’m now using Shopify - a shopping experience I personally know and have used hundreds of times on other websites. It’s an all around great solution that really simplifies the sales process.

So, did you spot the common thread?

Every decision that I made in this redesign/rebuild is based on improving YOUR experience. While the visuals may not have changed, I’m confident that your experience will be slightly better.

You see, factors like load speed can really impact the user experience. As users, we don’t really care about speed or even notice it until it’s too slow, right? Most people will never go to a website and be amazed at just how fast it loads. Crafting great experiences is sometimes just staying out of the way (e.g. Dropbox, Backblaze etc) and allowing the user to do what they’ve set out to do without interruptions. No email popups to distract you here!

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Books

User Experiences that Matter (2016)
Mastering Freelance (2017)

If You're Getting Started in UX

What's a 'User Experience' Anyways?
How Do You Learn UX?
Working as a UX Designer

Next Steps in UX

Working as a UX Lead
Defining a UX Strategy
Writing as Part of the UX Process

Thought-pieces

AI Ethics - A New Skill for UX-Designers
Designer Ethics & The Moral Implications of our Apps
The Future of the UX-Designer
Voice Input’s Effect on Social Norms

The Work We Do

Chasing Growth
New Tools Don’t Always Equal Productivity
Why Designers Need to Write
The Tools I Use to Run My Business

Featured Writing & Interviews Elsewhere

Q&A With Anton Sten, Author of User Experiences that Matter - Adobe
What the F*#!ck is a UX Designer anyway - Working not Working
It’s Time for a Code of Ethics for Designers - Medium Modus
The Art of Going Freelance - .Net Magazine
It Takes Time - Being Freelance episode 100

From My Newsletter

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UX of Email Newsletters

Working as a UX-lead

2018 in review

What’s my location?

I’m taking a break

Stay humble, stay eager

Back to Work!

Vanity Metrics

The Future of Retail

2017 review

What do you do?

Carpe Diem UX-designers

What´s Good Design?

Chasing Growth

A Redesign

Is Less More?

Why Simple is Hard

Pricing It Perfectly

Trusting Your Gut

Built to last

An Eye on the Future

UX Design explained

Bite-sized Posts

The Enemy

The Hot Potato Process

Leave the Phone at Home

Delight Comes Last

The Cost of Lies

Big Mood Machine

Simplicity is a war

The next iPhone

Leadership or management

Everyone should own a dog

Silence is gold

Cameras that understand

Humans, not users

Keeping AI Honest

Right to privacy

The State of UX in 2019

Why scrap scrappy?

Organized for browsing

The iPhone Franchise

Why Small Teams Win

The Bullshit Web

Just keep at it

Let them eat cake

Netflix Culture

Skype

Unfoundered

Tech is not Neutral

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Why Small Teams Win

Phone Bored

Karim Rashid

Dieter Rams

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Fake News is spam

Conversational Design

Dropbox

Bye bye Facebook

Cuba

The seat at the table

Givenchy

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Pricing Philisophy

Specialize

Personas

Make me think

Hawaii Missile Alert

Why Design Systems fail

What You Build

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Living a Testing Culture

Creative Class

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Github

Medium

Design quotes

Enough

Why?

ARKit

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Failure, Reflect, Renew

Growth

Working with me

Great user experience

Naming your icons

Conversations

All writing

Who’s listening?

The Enemy

The Hot Potato Process

Leave the Phone at Home

UX of Email Newsletters

Delight Comes Last

The Cost of Lies

Big Mood Machine

Simplicity is a war

The next iPhone

Working as a UX-lead

Leadership or management

Everyone should own a dog

Silence is gold

Cameras that understand

Humans, not users

Keeping AI Honest

Right to privacy

2018 in review

What’s my location?

The State of UX in 2019

Why scrap scrappy?

I’m taking a break

Organized for browsing

Stay humble, stay eager

The iPhone Franchise

Why Small Teams Win

Back to Work!

The Bullshit Web

Just keep at it

Let them eat cake

Netflix Culture

Skype

Unfoundered

Vanity Metrics

Tech is not Neutral

Productivity

Whose risk?

Why Small Teams Win

Phone Bored

Karim Rashid

Dieter Rams

Bleeding Out

Fake News is spam

Conversational Design

Dropbox

Bye bye Facebook

Cuba

The seat at the table

Givenchy

Love letters to trees

Pricing Philisophy

Specialize

Personas

Make me think

The Future of Retail

Hawaii Missile Alert

2017 review

Why Design Systems fail

What You Build

Checkout for Winners

Living a Testing Culture

What do you do?

Creative Class

How To Predict Your Future

Carpe Diem UX-designers

What´s Good Design?

Chasing Growth

Github

Medium

A Redesign

Design quotes

Enough

Why?

ARKit

Designing for Mobile

Is Less More?

Why Simple is Hard

Pricing It Perfectly

Failure, Reflect, Renew

Trusting Your Gut

Built to last

An Eye on the Future

Growth

Working with me

UX Design explained

Great user experience

Naming your icons

Conversations