April 11, 2021

Blog Improvements

A quick follow-up to my last post detailing a few of the changes I’ve made to my site

Now that I’ve reassured myself that Blot is definitely the best platform for my needs, I took some time this weekend to implement a laundry list of improvements, mostly behind-the-scenes stuff.

This is a bit of a geeky changelog, so feel free to ignore it unless you’re interested in some of what’s under the hood around here. If you’re reading via RSS or email, make sure you visit the website itself and hit Shift + Refresh in your browser to see what I’m talking about.

Improvements for 2021

For starters, I removed Imgix from the equation like I planned to, opting to have Blot serve and optimize images for me. This is an area where I know the platform is going to continue to improve, and removing Imgix not only saves me a ton of money but also a ton of hassle around image handling.

Next, I turned my attention to a few other details I’ve been meaning to address:

  • I changed the type stack to something simpler. My previous type stack was beautiful but resource-heavy. I was loading multiple fonts, including multiple variations of each, and it was impacting my loading times more than I would like despite serving them over a CDN. Now, I use just a single custom font for the headings and post text, with everything else resorting to the system default font for simplicity and speed. In case you’re curious, the new typeface is called Erode and it’s one of several exceptional free fonts provided by a wonderful initiative called Fontshare. Since I’m a type nerd, it took me a long time to find a good replacement but I’m happy with my choice. I find Erode to be a bit friendlier in character, with more readable italics, and it has the added advantage of offering a variable font option should I decide to make things even more efficient in the future.
  • I fixed the missing Open Graph tags. In the past, if you shared a link to my homepage or a blog post without an image on social media, it would appear without a preview image. This has been a persistent bother, but you should now get a preview image whether you’re sharing a post with an image, one without an image, or an arbitrary page.
  • Updated the Ko-Fi widget. The system I use to accept tips/donations updated the way they serve their button to make it speedier, so I swapped it in.
  • I Implemented a few tricks I learned to preload scripts and resources. This is one of those geeky things that affects how parts of a webpage load. The goal is to help the browser retrieve the most important elements first, so the site is useable to the visitor in as little time as possible.

Other Blog Platforms

Since I received quite a bit of email in response to the last post (the most valuable kind of feedback), I also wanted to take a moment to briefly mention a couple of other platforms/services that readers brought to my attention.

The most intriguing is called Publii. It seems to bring together the best of Blot and something like WordPress or Ghost in the sense that you have a fairly geeky static blog engine with a traditional CMS-style posting interface that runs as a local macOS/Windows/Linux app. It’s a fascinating approach with a lot of flexibility in terms of hosting, and it has a very similar theme system as Blot, albeit with the advantage of easier front-end customization.

The other option mentioned was Bloggi. Bloggi is a lot simpler, and it reminds me a bit of Svbtle in its desire to be as frictionless as possible, though it provides a bit more in the way of styling options.

That’s it for now—no more blogging about the blog itself for a while, I promise. Please keep sending me emails if you’re curious about this stuff, but for now I’m glad to have finished my list of site chores so I can go back to prepping some more interesting posts that have been on the backburner!

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