Making a personal website
==I’ve been trying to do this for four years== ***
The timeline of me trying and failing to make a personal website
Senior year of highschool
I wanted to make a personal website for myself for applying to colleges. I was daunted by the prospect of making one because I was too hell-bent on making it exactly want I wanted for the the all-forseeable future rather than simply making a temporary google sites that would get the job done and then I could toss it for something later. That was a mistake.
The primary strategy that I was looking into at this time was using Wordpress with a template. Wordpress is kind of a behemoth because it’s really more a system/framework for creating a website rather than a hosting service or something more specifically dedicated to making a personalized website.
When I made my senior project sciolyri.org I used Wordpress with a template, google domains to buy the domain, and Gator Hosting to host. I remember Wordpress had a lot of integrated stat-tracking for seeing site viewership and settings, but overall it was very complicated.
- cost can be as low as $2-3, depends on the hosting service
- tons of templates and infrastructure built around wordpress Cons:
- rabbit holes of complexity in every direction you turn
- many moving parts - wordpress, the domain, the host - lots of places to get headaches
Freshman year of college
I think it was freshman year of college that I learned about Github Pages which is free! It just takes a github repo and hosts a live but mostly static page from it. If you want to use this to make a website but you don’t know front-end development then you’ll want to use something like Jekyll to pick a theme and run with it (Jekyll is especially good for blogging).
I actually did a ton of research and set up my own Jekyll website with a documentation-style template that I picked after a lot of deliberation. I still have the infrastructure on my laptop for editing my website code in vscode, then pushing my changes to github and seeing it update. However, once I finally got all the infrastructure set up and I was like “alright! now it’s finally time to actually make the thing!” I stopped working on it because it was once again daunting.
I think the issue with this is that it still requires a lot of time dedicated to figuring out formatting issues with front-end, it’s like the equivalent of using Linux instead of MacOS.
I liked the fact that my theme had a level of integrated wikipedia style documentation, so I was planning to use that for essentially writing posts about stuff I’m working on all the time and serve as life-documentation. However, I eventually discovered Obsidian much later and that ended up being a much better option for this purpose than a Jekyll website.
- literally free
- no worrying about hosting service or domain name purchasing - brings the number of moving parts from 3+ to 1
- github version control is always best in class
- this would be the preferred method to garner respect from web dev nerds who like web deving and nerding all over the place and breathing heavily
- does not escape the rabbit holes of complexity at every turn
- limited to static pages - this may not be a big issue for just a personalized “this is me” website, but for the purposes that I was imagining at the time when setting it up, I’m sure I was naïvely going to run into this hard wall at some point
Junior/Senior Year of College
A lot of time passed between my last attempt at a personal website and now, mainly because LinkedInsufficiently served the purpose of being my “this is me” website during that time, and it pops up to the top of google search results.
I was also using Google Keep during this time as my notes app. These notes were basically stream of consciousness without any consistent formatting or infrastructure around them.
But everything changed when
the fire nation attacked Lucas Lucia introduced me to [[Obsidian MOC |Obsidian]]. At the time that he had introduced it to me I was actually working on transferring my notes to Notion.io after a suggestion from Sabrina Olson, but Lucas pointed out that Obsidian was locally stored and based on simple markdown, so more transferable.
Obsidian allows you to publish your entire vault to a website - you can specify which pages you want to be published and which ones you don’t. You can click through all the links just the same, although it is missing some of the UI elements/features of the desktop app (depends on how you configure it).
This option has always been kinda there but since it’s so mainstream there are always gonna be limitations and “strings attached”. I didn’t know this until I’m writing this right now but its $16 a month! That’s a lot for a service that still has rabbit holes, limitations, non-transferability, and tacks their big logo on the bottom of your site without your opting out.
I think people usually choose this because they don’t know about any other options and they want the equivalent of microsoft powerpoint drag & drop but for making websites. Squarespace also only really saves you time if you’re happy with a template of the box, but if you want to do a lot of configuring then it’s still gonna take as much time as Jekyll or something else.
- There are a lot of good Template Options and infrastructure around the platform, I’ll give them that
- Becomes a much better option if you need to make a site with someone else - the same way that LaTeX and Git is suddenly less attractive to use for a project than microsoft word when you realize that no one in your group knows how to use anything other than word. However, for a personal website this is not a valid pro
- Bro it’s $16/month
- For all of the other options (Wordpress, Github, Obsidian, Blot, etc.) there is a clear ability to take the data of your website and transfer it in some way to another platform in the future. However, squarespace is within its own ecosystem, so while I can’t confirm whether or not you could transfer because I haven’t used their service before, I’m very skeptical
- Feels like Starbucks
- Feels like I’m legally obligated to wear a man-bun