One Man & His Blog reborn: the 2023 edition
This site has a brand new look for its 20th anniversary year. Here's what's changed — and why.
Yesterday, I gave this venerable blog a revamp, and I’m delighted with the results. It looks quite dramatically different than it did 24 hours ago, with a slightly more serious/professional looking design and — critically to me — a greater accessibility to some key subjects in the archive.
There’s nearly two decades of content locked up in the site, and I wanted a design that made it easier to access that depth of material, while also looking fresh and modern. And I was prepared to invest a little money to make that happen.
So — what have I done?
Two main changes:
- Switch of theme
- Switch of comments system
Let’s look at each of those in turn:
New theme: Krabi
Let’s be honest: I’m a massive fan of the work Aspire Themes is doing on the Ghost platform. I’m clearly not the only: Substack used one of Ahmad's themes, Tripoli, to rebuild Bari Weiss’s site The Free Press, which has been custom reworked to be usable with Substack.
I’ve been using another Aspire theme on my much-neglected parenting and outdoors blog Walking With Daddy for over a year, and it just feels so damn good every time I publish there. The aesthetics and typography are just 👌🏻.
I wanted that same feeling here on OM&HB, and set myself a target for growth on this site. When I hit it, I’d indulge in the purchase of a new theme. I hit that number over the weekend, and so I’m now running the Krabi theme. You might have come across it before. Several professional sites are using it, including American Purpose and Quilette. There’s more than enough customisation that I’m happy I don’t look too similar to those titles.
More to the point, the theme has a great ability to showcase both featured content, and tags I choose. You’ll note a bar giving direct access to the most frequently written about topics on this site, something I intend to build on with a more tidy and organised approach to tagging in the future.
In short, it should be much easier to find useful and interesting stuff on here, not just the most recent posts. And that’s good.
Cove to Ghost native comments
I’ve been running comments here for a while, using Cove: a system built to give Ghost the ability to have comments before Ghost added it natively. It’s deeply integrated with Ghost’s membership system. However, I decided a while ago that I wanted to move away from Cove, for three reasons. Firstly, Cove costs, and I just don’t receive the volume of comments needed to justify that cost.
And secondly, the ghost native comments are better integrated into the CMS, making it easier for people to comment, once they log in once. I’m hoping to see increased commenting activity at a much lower cost. 🤞🏻
Thirdly, the developer behind Cove has been public about its declining revenue, and has taken on a job alongside his personal projects, and so it feels, to me at least, that the future is with the native option.
The Technical Details
Here’s the main tools I use to create OM&HB.
- CMS: Ghost 5
- Hosting: ghost(pro) (grandfathered rate from being a Kickstarter backer)
- Theme: Krabi by Aspire Themes
- Writing: mainly in Ulysses
- Images: self-shot or generated using Midjourney
The Anniversary Outfit
I was also incredibly conscious that this was probably going to be the design that saw this site though its 20th anniversary. Yes, next month, One Man & His Blog will be 20. That’s quite a milestone — and it affirms that it will most likely be the single biggest creative endeavour of my life, outside of child-rearing. It deserves a design and look that matches that.
With this revamp, I have a site I’m proud of, and which I’ll be more than happy to showcase during its anniversary year.
Welcome to the 2023 edition of One Man & His Blog. I hope you enjoy it.
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