I have just updated my blog completely. Before it was a static website compiled by Middleman. This was having a repository of articles written in Markdown, and some CSS styles that were compiled by hand, and then deployed to the server.
This was uncomfortable for me. The need to generate the article using the command line or the file manager, and then running some commands to compile and deploy was much much sluggish than just clicking a publish button. Also when attaching images to the article, Markdown wasn’t working for me as I was out of focus when resizing the article, putting it in the correct directory, writing the tag, and so on. I could have written a tool to automate all this, but I have not much time, and the end result would not be as complete as a good CMS.
Being a web developer and willing to use a CMS may sound weird. We normally prefer tools that give us more freedom, while losing a little of magic. This was my case when I started my website, by using a tool like Middleman (or Jekyll, which I test driven together with many others, but I ended up choosing the Ruby one). But when you have to focus on the article, it’s better to have a tool that doesn’t get on your way.
This is the moment when you should stop and think about your systems and tools. Are they helping me or are they getting on my way? Would it be better to change to a bigger system that lets me focus on the actual result I want to accomplish? In my case, it’s more important my productivity on writing regular content, than being proud of the system I set up.
So I decided to ditch Middleman and try WordPress. I searched for themes, free and premium, but I could not find any that fit my needs, so I had to think again: should I be satisfied with a theme that I’m not fully happy with, but would help me to be working as soon as possible? Or should I create a new theme from scratch, learning on the way? This was an even trickier decision than the previous one. But I thought that investing that effort on creating something new would be more beneficial for me, so I chose to create a theme myself. And you are seeing the result.
How much time does it need? I needed many months of work, because I have my day work and a also a baby to care about. But I think it was totally worth the effort. I’m very happy with the result and I know this design will fit my needs now and in the future.
But I had to think about something else while working on this: considering Medium. Many people have migrated their blogs to there, proclaiming that their posts were being watched by tons of people. Others opted to post both in their own blogs and Medium. Even Medium supports this kind of publication, setting the personal blog as the canonical source. To avoid duplicated content, people create “lite” versions of the articles for Medium, or create ads in between linking to the original, but I didn’t like this, because I feel like I’m lying to the reader.Why all this mess? Isn’t Medium a platform where people write easily? Let’s write for both, ok, but different articles. That was my decision.
We have several places to share our thoughts today: our own blogs, Medium, WordPress.com, social networks… should we create an original content in our blog, and then replicate smaller versions to everywhere else? This is a personal decision, but I opt to create mainly for my blog, and sporadically writing for the others.
My recommendation is to stop and think if you would gain something by changing your tools, or it’s better to continue with them, because remember that the most important thing is the result of your work. It doesn’t matter how simple or complex is your system, the only important thing is how it helps you to accomplish what you have to do.