A New Era for my Website

Times have changed

This site you're currently on has been designed & built, in 2020, using the following tools, programs and specs.

  1. Sketch
  2. React
  3. Nextjs
  4. Javascript
  5. PostCSS
  6. Git
  7. CSS Grid
  8. Contentful

It automatically deploys on Vercel using their Git integration, it's hosted for free which I'm really happy about.

So far, so good, Vercel have a great product, I found the process of migrating my domain, on the whole, quite fun. I used their CLI to update the DNS records.

Back in 2012—which is when I published my first website on morganfeeney.com—I'd have done that using an admin interface, or raising a support ticket.

I designed and built the current incarnation of my website during the Lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A screenshot of my previous, previous website from 2012
A screenshot of my previous, previous website from 2012

About my previous website

The previous incarnation was designed and built using the following tools etc.:

  1. Wordpress
  2. PHP
  3. Adobe Illustrator
  4. Skeleton WordPress theme, which I hacked

It was hosted with tsoHost for the most part, who provided clustered hosting, which, back then sounded awesome. When I signed up to tsoHost the package was quite competitive for the number of sites I was hosting, however for a single site that same package became expensive and I couldn't downgrade due to the number of assets I'd accumulated, so had to go elsewhere.

I migrated my previous website to Cloudways early in 2020 as they provide a great hosting package for WordPress installations, and have a really easy to use migration plugin that does most of the work. They use AWS, which now, sounds about as cool as clustered hosting did back then.

Circumstances are different now

Back in 2012 I made what appeared to be a bold move; I'd quit a permanent job working for a tech startup (my first job as a web designer), in order to set myself up as a sole-trader, designing and building websites for very small businesses—I wouldn't have been as bold if it wasn't for my wife, YuanYuan, offering to support me.

I had to quit, I needed to find the time to design and create a website that I could use to promote myself, and being there, commuting etc. depleted any spare time I had, so it was a gamble on myself that was necessary.

My previous site was never really finished, even though I'd set out with the best intentions of actually 'finishing' it—this was really about process.

Back then, the way I did things was different.

I had designed a website with not much in terms of actual content, building it—primarily hacking a WordPress theme—and then adding the content via the CMS, which never fully materialised as I was always too busy doing other things. I'd created a skeleton list of pages that were empty in the hope that they would get filled in with content later on.

This time around I had way less time to focus on designing & building my own website; I'm a dad of 2, before COVID kicked in there was school, nursery, after school activities, and commuting to also contend with.

I therefore started with content first, a single case-study written in a Word doc. I was burning the midnight oil just getting that content written. I was also mentally blocked due to a side project that I just could not seem to get finished. I dropped the side project and jumped onto revamping my own website.

I started to design using Sketch, then came up with an idea of an M.V.P., something simple that I could deliver in a short space of time, you could say I tried to be as Agile as possible. I then started coding, iteratively revising the design based on a feedback loop. It took a while longer than I had anticipated, this is again down to some new stuff I didn't have to consider previously.

I've built a headless front-end using Next & React, so I've had to learn whilst doing. The content is managed via Contentul so I've had to get my head around their API too, but I'm over a big hump now and can build on top of what I have started.

What I have delivered has made its way into the real world, and will incrementally be improved as and when. Because of this change in thinking and perspective I unblocked myself so I could deliver something of value.

Written by Morgan Feeney

I’ve been designing and developing for almost 2 decades.
Read about me, and my work.

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