Well, here it is… The new minimal design website.
The biggest change, apart from the design which is well… very minimal, is everything under the hood: I’m not using TextPattern to manage the content anymore. Instead I created my own CMS using the Code Igniter PHP Framework and I got to say, it makes coding PHP really fun. Now that I’m done, I can say that creating your own system instead of going for one of the pre-built ones out there is the clearest first hand experience of the 80-20 rule you can get.
Building you own CMS, 80% of your time is used building the core functionality, and 20% to add in extra features and tweaks whereas using TextPattern, WordPress, etc… is just the opposite. You got most of it done in no time, but then you spend hours customizing it to get it to work exactly the way you need it. One could argue that overall time spent ends up being about the same, but the big difference though is the level of frustration the second option incurs. Not to mention that sometimes you can’t get it exactly how you want it and you have to compromise. On the other hand, when you built it from the ground up, you’re in control the whole time, you know where you’re at and where you’re going. So you have a good idea of when you’ll be done, which not always so obvious when working on someone else’s code.
Don’t get me wrong though, I think Expression Engine, TextPattern, WordPress (besides the “huh? I thought the people at Happy Cog were supposed to be usability experts?!” redesign), and most other popular CMS are all great tools. I just won’t use them as much now that I know Code Igniter ;)
Going back to the redesign… In terms of site organization and functionality, everything is pretty similar. I removed the comments on the downloads because I’ll be adding articles whenever I update them and I’d rather keep the comments separated from one version to the next. I also added a RSS feed (checkout Vienna for great OSX reader) for new articles and articles comments to make it easy for people to get notified of replies to their comments. I also added a few different options to browse old articles. I’ll probably be adding new features as I come up with ideas.
Also, a big thanks to jTaby and his nearly perfect CodeExtinguisher! It elevates Code Igniter from “great” to “freaking awsome.”
I think that’s about it… Let me know if you happen to find something broken! Thanks.