March 20, 2020

A walk-through of my 2020 Web-Crunch.com re-design

After about 4 years on WordPress, I decided it was time for a change. My blog previously hosted on this website was originally a side project where I could have a home to write. Over time it became more of a platform and as a platform grows the needs of it do as well.

Reaching for Ruby on Rails was a natural decision for me. Sure I could have gone with a popular static site solution out there for something more lightweight but I didn't want to be caught again reaching the limits of a tool or framework. Ruby on Rails is beyond extendable and some of my goals for the future align with this choice.

Redesign

A big push to launch a new web-crunch.com was the design factor. I wanted a single blog post to be more legible, scannable, and easier to navigate. You'll find most of the site is fairly plain. This is intended. The content should be the focus and that's what I was after from the start.

Notable new features

  • Collections - Articles are now grouped by collection if it makes sense to be in one. I maintained categories but also introduced tagging to make it easier to search and discover more on the site.

  • A new custom editor - Only I can see this but I built my own custom markdown editor behind the scenes to better author content. I didn't need all the fancy tools WordPress provides so I took the things I like about WordPress and ported them over to Rails. I got rid of all the rest as a bonus.

  • Premium Content - I have future plans to author premium content which will be for sale in a lump-sum fashion. I didn't want to bake subscription payments into the system because I'm honestly not wanting to charge people month-to-month. This was a fun thing to build into the blog. I built a Stripe and PayPal widget that lets you pick how you want to purchase the premium content.

  • Save for later - Adding "Save" buttons for each post was inspired by what dev.to does. I think it's nice to have a place to come back to if you don't have the time to read at a given moment. Unfortunately, to do this you need to create an account on web-crunch.com but it's a painless minute or so to create one.

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