Kristófer Reykjalín

This site is now hand-crafted

Published on March 10, 2024.

You’re now looking at a complete redesign of this site, but it’s actually more than that. This site is now entirely hand-crafted in HTML. Or well, it’s actually PHP, but that’s just for the reusable parts, like the header and footer, but the posts are all handwritten HTML. Wild right? Why would I do that? Why would anyone do that?

I’ve been using WordPress to host my blog for years now, but it’s always felt a bit restrictive to do things the WordPress way. This way I have complete control over what my blog looks like and what the individual pages do.

I’ve also decided to not just redesign the look of the site, but also the content. Or rather, I plan to write about a wider range of things that interest me.

If you’re interested in learning more about the current design you can read my post about this design iteration. This post is more about the reason behind this redesign than the redesign itself.


Let’s start by talking about the increased control this approach offers. By writing the site content entirely by hand I have full control over every individual page on my site. I don’t need to create custom templates or post types to get different looking pages. I just write the markup and there it is!

This also gives me room to experiment with other things, e.g. make hyper custom one-off JS components for just a single post or page. One example of this is the YNAB project I’m working on which would be a pain to host on a WordPress site.

I can experiment with new web technologies and write a page in Svelte or React. I could play around with WebAssembly or in-browser database engines.

Writing the site by hand opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to what I can do on the site.


Another aspect of improved control is hosting. Since the site is all simple PHP I can host it pretty much anywhere. I’m not bound to hosts that can deal with WordPress or some other CMS.

Sure, the host will need to support PHP, but honestly which website host doesn’t? That’s barely even a limitation.

I’ve decided to try the hosting offered by NearlyFreeSpeech.NET. Their DIY, bare-bones offering really appeals to my inner minimalist. And with the basic tech stack necessary to run this version of the blog it should cost me less than US$5 per year. That’s a really nice price point that’s tough to beat.

The downside is that they don’t do much for you, you really do get what you pay for. However, that works really well for me since that’s what I prefer anyway, but might not be for everyone.


Or, to phrase the title of this section more completely; the history of my blog. I redesign my blog often. I’m a little sad the history of those changes doesn’t really exist. I’ve tried to archive my posts after I make them in the WayBack Machine, but that doesn’t capture the redesigns when I don’t make new blog posts in between the redesigns, since I only archive posts once when they’re published.

So, I’ve decided that going forward, after a post is published, it will exist in that state forever. I will not be retroactively going back to update the styles in a post. Even the header and footer will remain the same. A redesign will start a new stylesheet and set of reusable functions, so old posts will remain unchanged. This way you can go back in time, not just in terms of content, i.e. older posts, but also in terms of site design!

I’m very excited to see how this will turn out.

More varied content

Up until now I’ve kept my blog fairly technical. I work in tech and it’s a big part of my life. I love technology and I love programming. I used to look at my blog as a way to express that.

But I found it hard to muster up the enthusiasm to actually write for the blog. A big part of that is because I live and breathe tech all day, even outside work when I’m working on my hobbies. I don’t really need another outlet for tech.

I have other hobbies and interests. One of those is Pokémon. I play the video games and TCG, and there’s plenty there to write about, even if only to show off my favorite cards out of the (many, many) TCG packs I open.

I also play other video games that I can write about. I read a decent amount of books and I’m a huge fan of several book series both ongoing and completed. That’s something else I could write about.

I recently became a father to a beautiful girl and that’s something else I might go into at some point, but I’m still a bit unsure of whether I’m willing to go into something that personal here.

I’m feeling excited about pivoting the blog like this and I’m already looking forward to sharing photos of the Pokémon cards I got from opening some tins and packs from the latest set, Paldean Fates. I finally feel excited to publish something here again.

Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t be writing about tech at all. I still plan on doing that, just to a lesser extent. Or maybe not “to a lesser extent”, I guess I didn’t write much to begin with, huh?

Anyway, I just don’t want to limit myself to tech anymore. Maybe that will breathe some life into the blog, yeah? At least my enthusiasm for it seems to be returning, that seems like a good sign.

All of that to say: I want this blog to be more than just a tech blog. To open myself up to posting more varied types of content and see if that won’t result in me actually blogging instead of just redesigning the site twice a year.

Rough edges

As i mentioned, the site is all hand-crafted HTML, and I’ll admit: it’s a bit of a pain. The writing experience is certainly different. But I don’t post frequently to begin with and don’t plan to go on some posting spree now. A post every month or two is the cadence I’m going for.

Maintaining the RSS feed is also a bit tedious — yes, the RSS feed is also handwritten — but it’s not so bad. Mostly just copy-pasting the HTML from the posts to the feed file and making some minor style adjustments here and there.

And that’s really it. The writing experience is different, but this setup comes with so much freedom and control that it offsets the minor annoyance of doing things by hand. That’s also a solvable problem! I’m writing this in Paper, a Markdown editor with a wonderful writing experience, generous pricing model, and exports to HTML.

Once I’m done writing the post I can even use WorkingCopy to push the post from my phone to the git repo and clean it up later before publishing from my computer.

So far I’m very happy with this setup. The migration itself was a huge chore, but now that it’s done I think the whole setup is quite nice.

I’m very excited to see how this turns out once I have some more posts up and eventually redesign the site again. That’s going to be the real test for the setup.