Building a Better Blog
First in a series of articles on building a state of the art blog in 2017.
In the web era, there’s an interesting way of thinking about your identity. How many “home pages” have you published? As our lives unfold, and as web technology matures, our virtual personas evolve on a parallel path, and leave behind a digital trail.
The Geocities Era
Courtesy of the Way Back Machine, here’s a screenshot of one of my early sites, circa 2000, hosted on the venerable/horrible geocities.com and lovingly crafted with Microsoft Front Page 2000:
The biggest problem with this site was that it didn’t change very often, which is something of an understatement (there’s that same vacation photo gallery again, which now even bores my own Mom). This was around the time when the word “blog” first joined the modern vernacular. Intrepid explorers wanted a home on the web but we weren’t quite sure what to do with it once we got there.
The WordPress Era
Around 2010, I discovered Wordpress, and started a self-published blog focusing on music and puzzles. During this time, I learned a valuable lesson: if you write about something you really love, and build up a little momentum, it’s actually pretty easy to keep going.
I wanted to keep blogging, but in 2011 I got a job at Google and all my fun side projects ground to a screeching halt. Another problem was that I really wasn’t thrilled with the mechanics of my site. It had some serious shortcomings:
- It was hosted on a virtual server. If one of my articles went viral (as if), I was a sitting duck.
- It had no support for https, which didn’t seem terrible back then, but in 2017 that’s inexcusable.
- Wordpress is a pretty amazing thing but I got tired of all the layers between me and my content. I wanted a hacker’s blogging platform.
The Github/Hugo Era
Fast forward to 2017…web technology, content authoring tools, and cloud hosting have all come a long way since my last experiment. Having recently transitioned to the Cloud Developer Relations team at Google, I’ve built myself a new voice on the web, which you are now reading. I’ve learned quite a bit In the process of building this blog. In case others are interested in following suit, I’m writing this series of articles to explain the choices I’ve made in the following dimensions:
- Content Management & Continuous Integration
- Web Serving
- Comments & Feedback
- Offline & Mobile Support
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The web is the most powerful publishing platform in the history of the world. With the right technology choices, authoring a state of the art blog has never been easier. I hope that this series will helps others take the plunge. Many of us stop writing after our school days. The ghosts of term papers past haunt us at the thought of writing anything longer than a typical facebook update. And that’s unfortunate, because writing is really good for you.
This is a post in the
Other posts in this series: