Start From Scratch Again but Make it Basic.

I redesigned and rebuilt my website theme this time it's version 18. To do it I threw everything out, went back to basics, and accepted imperfection.

Hi Friends,

I redesigned and rebuilt my website theme this time it's version 18. Which is nice. A lot has happened since I started this latest version and I learned a lot about why shipping my past themes failed and how to make that work.

Too Much on the Plate.

I first decided to dump what I had in the past and start over from scratch, but super scratch scratch. Why? I had this half-baked idea to build a design system around the site while I was building it, and add a space for tutorials, and courses. It was a lot. Lack of focus and huge scope tanked the project. The onset of the pandemic killed my motivation to continue, and anyways I had to find work suddenly and keep the family all ok. (I'm married with 4 children).

This is a theme I see in any endeavour, lack of focus, and large scopes kill things. That's not cool. I had taken on too much and tried to make all this related, yet different things all at once. Which is silly when you think about it. Tutorials, and Courses? Concurrently? With nary an article before that? Yeah that was silly.

The course correction to that wells up from another reality. The people do what they do, a crafts person makes what they can make becuase that's what they can make. A more talented or experienced person will make better work faster, than a newbie. But it's the act of building and making lots and lots that sharpens these skills. If I did want to make a course, the first step is to make the smallest piece of what a course might be, writing about the topic. So it goes with the redesign that I launched.

Start over, Cut Everything.

I designed a basic blog. No features outside of the essentials, with very little personality. That's what I shipped to kow.fm for version 18. Why? Well I have aspirations to ship more than just one theme, but a lot more, I wanted a base theme that I could work with that had very few assumptions that I needed to overcome.

This blog runs on Ghost, at least for now. Ghost is great. It has started to ship a lot of features that are easy to support, and a few that are slightly more difficult to support for theme developers. Trying to fit all of that into an initial release from the jump was hard for me. I decided to cut support for everything but the most essential things. I can add stuff later. The basic blog theme that I made, Capsule, is meant to just be a baseline for other themes. Which seems silly. But standing up something basic that fulfills all of the main requirements, is pretty important.

So I did that, I cut everything and started over from a baseline. The code is ugly-ish, the design is meh, but it all works and I have my baseline.

Small Iterations Over Time

My next step is to find small parts to improve, improve it, and then ship that. I see this theme as a baseline, but also something that I can improve and make changes to. Art, Design, Code, this stuff is never finished, it never ends, it's just let loose from time to time. Baking a small iterations mindset into every aspect of my creative output is now kinda my JAM. Starting with this theme was the best decision I could make.

What's next? I'm working on a cool blog thing with Collin. I've been refurbishing Camping for about 6 months and it's gettin' pretty good. I've decided to pivot my career to focus on websites with Ruby and I'm loving it. Carving out more time to be with family and friends by cutting everything I don't actually like.

-kow

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