This podcast episode was recorded as an accompanying audio version of the Dandy Newsletter that was published on March 24, 2020.
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I don’t want just any ol’ fast website. I want to have the fastest dang website on this here side o’ the Mississippi River! Weird prospector talk aside, seriously, I want to have a blazing fast website. The sort of website that feels like a joy to visit. A website that laughs at page loading times.
There are a few good ways to make this happen. Mostly, it comes down to making everything as small as possible. There’s no room for enormous file sizes anywhere on the internet. We’ve got fast wifi and cellular speeds, but they’re not that fast yet. Maybe one day in the future, but we’ll get there when we get there.
There’s also a brand spankin’ new blog post waiting for you. It’s called, An Updated Guide on How To Stay Sane While Working from Home.
2020 sent many of us into a tailspin. The luckiest of us have been able to transfer to working from home. It’s been fine for me since I’ve been working from home for a while now, but it’s not something everyone is comfortable with. This calls for a new guide on how to make working from home actually bearable. Read this guide today to save your sanity!
We’re wrapping things up with what I’m watching, reading, and listening to this week. It’s a great assortment of media that’s worth your time.
Links to stuff that was mentioned:
The full text
The Dandy Newsletter - 03/24/20
In addition to writing as much content as my fingers can get out into the world, I’m also obsessed with efficiency and speed, especially when it comes to my own website. We live in a future where there doesn’t necessarily have to be a bottleneck in our systems, at least not any of our own creation. This all applies specifically to my own web design journey; I’m sure I could be educated about real bottlenecks with great enthusiasm by app developers, anyone who works with servers, and creative video professionals, amongst many others.
And I should know about that last one: I used to be a creative video professional.
All that being said, I’ve made it no secret in past newsletters that I want the Dandy Cat Design website to be as screamingly fast as it can possibly be. My ideal website would be able to predict what a visitor will do before they even do it, but since we don’t live in Science Fiction Land I’d love for it to earn nearly perfect scores on all the respected website speed tests that are available online.
I don’t know if I’d be able to get perfect 100s across the board. There’s a whole lot about websites that dictates their speed aside from just what a person sees when they navigate to one. Off the top of my head: there’s code involved in modern websites that I don’t understand and servers around the world that need to be operating at peak speed. Everything needs to be working in synchronicity and, in many ways, I’m the weakest link in this chain. That can be a frustrating reality for someone who likes to be able to control as much about their business as they can, but it’s also something I need to learn to live with.
Unless, that is, I go with the nuclear option and debut a version of my site that’s essentially just plain text. You can see examples of this with the lite versions of historically slow and script-heavy news sites like CNN and NPR. Yeah, those lite sites are what the internet looked like decades ago, but damn are they fast. They’re almost reaching that mythical “go somewhere before I even click on it” status.
Dandy Cat Design could absolutely be that—just the essentials and absolutely none of the cruft. But do I think that would be a particularly appealing site to most of the entire world? Probably not. People like speedy sites, but they also love a website that appears modern and makes good use of captivating images. Despite my love for the lite news sites I linked to above, if Dandy Cat Design were to become that, well, I don’t even want to think about what my site’s bounce rate would be.
So what’s a dandy cat like me to do about this? A few things, I think.
- Make my site’s images as lightweight as possible. I wrote an entire blog post about this in the past, but since moving to Ghost, I haven’t been following my own advice. Ghost makes it easy to insert images directly from Unsplash, yes, but those images aren’t compressed. Yeah, maybe they’re scaled down a bit, but my site was trying to load images that were 2-3 MBs apiece. That’s nuts and I can’t believe I let myself do that. I spent a day last week minimizing my images. They’re all now under 500 kBs, with many under 100. That’s the easiest thing I can do for my site and it should help my speed in immense ways.
- I can look into using a content delivery network, or CDN, for all my images. This is an idea I’ve been playing around with a bit lately because it feels like the benefits to my site’s speed could be immense. For a small amount of extra money a month, I can host my images on a group of servers spread across the world, instead of a single place. This way, when someone visits my site, the images will be loaded from a server that’s as close to them as possible, as opposed to one from many thousands of miles away. It’s something I’ve got to read a whole lot more about, but it could be fortuitous for me. As an added benefit, this could allow me to figure out how to get footnotes working in my Ghost site again. That’s been a headache-inducing issue that I would like to finally solve.
- I could switch my website’s theme to one created by Ghost. Theoretically, using a theme designed by them should yield better results for me. Who knows their platform better than them? Right now, I’m using a theme I purchased from fueko.net. While it’s an absolutely gorgeous theme, there’s a lot of custom code in it. It’s all necessary custom code—I don’t think the website would function without it—but a lot of that code comes in the form of scripts that can slow a site down. The Lyra theme from Ghost isn’t nearly as pretty as the Fueko theme, but if it’s faster, then that’s a benefit. I can always work on styling up the Lyra theme to look prettier anyway.
Those are my thoughts about my website as it currently is. I’m still more than happy to be using Ghost for my website needs, but there’s still a lot about website development that I don’t know. It seems I have more of a designer’s eye and less of a developer’s mind. That’s not really a bad thing, but it does mean I’m probably going to have to read a lot of technical documentation about website development if I want to really make my website work for me.
Wish me luck.
Curse this virus all the way to Hades!
There’s a new blog post waiting for you. Huzzah! 🎉
These are trying times right now and I want to be here to help you through them. COVID-19 is affecting the work lives of so many people. Many are finding themselves forced to work in a strange environment, one they may not be very familiar with: their homes.
As a seasoned work from home person, I’ve been able to learn a lot about what it takes to make working in the place you also live as productive and stress-free as possible. It’s a delicate balancing act, to be sure. You can’t just go into it expecting it’ll be a breeze from the get-go, but you can take measures to make sure it’s not maddening.
Click through the link above to read my updated list of tips and tricks to make working from home not just good for your job, but also an enjoyable experience for you personally. It’s an extensive list that goes into the pitfalls of working from home that you may not be considering and also how to make the most of your time while out of the office.
If you ever want to throw some suggestions my way, then send me a reply to this email. They’re always wonderful to receive.
Seriously friend, I'd love to hear from you.
Until next time, stay dandy, cat.
WATCHING: Season 1 of Dickinson
LISTENING: The Long-Awaited Album by Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers
READING: The Stand by Stephen King
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