Migrating my personal site to Blot
I've begun migrating my personal website from Squarespace to Blot.
It's a small site of a dozen pages intended as a brochure with basic information on me, my activities and projects, as well as links to my blog and online profiles. Think of it as a glorified link in bio.
I couldn't stand looking at my site anymore, I wanted out of it.
The polished details of a professionally designed template gave the site a marketing feel that doesn't represent me. Instead, I want a more lightweight, clean, and lean online home hinting it belongs to a genuine individual. It's okay if the site delivers the amateurish but authentic vibes of a hobby project.
Another motivation to migrate was cost.
At about €240 per year, Squarespace isn't cheap and its inflexibility adds to the cost. Once assigned to a site, a theme can't be swapped for another one without paying for an additional site to associate it to.
Prior to Squarespace I maintained the site with Weebly. Drag and drop site builders like them make it easy to arrange content or tweak the design but their rich-text editors introduce friction when working on what matters, text.
Using Write.as to publish this blog spoiled me in how productive and frictionless Markdown is. As a Squarespace alternative I wanted a Markdown-centric publishing platform that could be operated entirely online on chromeOS, integrating seamlessly with my cloud lifestyle.
Traditional static site generators support Markdown but are too complex to set up and maintain. And they may not be a good fit with the cloud.
I procrastinated researching an alternate site builder as googling for it involves highly targeted keywords that yeld lots of ads and SEO-optimized crap. Luckily, by chance I stumbled upon Kev Quirk's praise of Blot which I had heard about.
Checking out Blot and reading the documentation confirmed it could be the right tool, almost.
Blot is designed around blogs and, by default, the home page of the sites it makes displays a list of dated entries in reverse chronological order, as well as matching navigation elements. This isn't the right layout for an infrequently updated personal site.
An email exchange with Blot's developer David Merfield turned out a simple metadata tweak to remove any references to blog entries and customize the home page to my liking. All I needed was to mark the home page as a landing page. David's support is excellent and with a personal touch.
The tools I use to build and maintain the site are a byproduct of the way Blot works.
Blot is a static site generator that synchronizes the source files stored in an online folder on Google Drive, Dropbox, or a Git repository and publshes them to a site served from Blot's own infrastructure. My familiarity with Google Drive and its cloud-centric nature made obvious the choice of where to store the site folder.
I could edit the sources with Google Docs but its Markdown support is limited. Instead I use the beaufitul web-based Markdown editor StackEdit, which can save the files to and synchronize them with Google Drive.
Some tweaks to the site, such as configuring the navigation menu and URL redirects, go through the online dashboard on Blot's website.
So far I set up the new site on a Blot subdomain, selected a layout based on a template I like, and began fleshing out the content. When it looks good, I'll disconnect my domain from Squarespace and connect it to the new site.
I hope to ditch Squarespace soon.
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