A new year and a new-ish look! A lot has happened in 2022 and I’m sure a lot more will happen in 2023. I’d rather be doing too much than nothing at all. In preparation for the new year and before a major change in my family takes place I decided to spend some time to clear away the cobwebs from this place and updating it just enough. Have a look through what I’ve done and check out my plans for my illustration work at the end of this update.

The Problem

Late in 2022 I decided to update my Grav CMS installation as I was cleaning some stuff up and refocusing on some things I’ve neglected. All went well except for the fact that I ended up locked out of my admin panel. Lame 👎. Everything functioned fine but of course now I couldn’t really create updates and all that… so the website was essentially frozen in time 🥶.

The Solution

After doing some research in fixing my login I was left stuck in the situation that was essentially a fork in the road:

  1. 1 - Trash current version, install latest and rebuild.
  2. 2 - Explore a static website builder, have to rebuild anyways.

I went ahead with #2 and started looking around. Astro was something that has been on my radar for a little while by this point so I didn’t actually spend too much time digging through available static website builders other than ones that have been around for ages. It’s a modern tool for something that we’ve been doing for a long time and most importantly it truly doesn’t get in your way.

Here’s what actually sold me on Astro: I fired up VS Code, installed Astro and in minutes was already on my way migrating my content with very little agitation (if any). I have to be honest and admit that I rushed through most of the process as I’m constantly short on “free” time. Because of this my Lighthouse performance score took a hit but I’ll be refactoring a lot of what I know can be done much better in the coming months.

Opinions on the solution

Overall I’m thrilled with Astro! If you’re a dev who spends a lot of time building small business websites, writes their own blog in markdown, etc. this is the tool for you. I’ll be spending more time exploring it and building on it this year and I’m sure it’ll handle 99% of what I intend to do. I’m also happy to have returned to true static website building rather than leveraging a flat-file CMS. In my opinion flat-file CMS isn’t a bad option but it lives somewhere between a static website and a database-driven CMS, so when it comes to making a choice of what to build on ask yourself what is essential and what is a luxury. Odds are a static website builder will cover 100% of your essentials and even some luxuries. In the end I feel like for most content creators and devs the decision should be all or nothing, meaning: if you need multiple editors to update your content then go all out with a database-driven CMS, if not… go with a website builder like Astro.

Updated Design

Since I was already knee-deep in migrating from one platform to another might as well update my personal brand a bit while I was at it. This time I decided to lean in to the black-and-white theme with white, red-ish, and blue as primary/accents

In the end between the black-and-white illustrations and patriotic color accents I’d describe this as my “film noir” period.

Updated personal brand: ASIM personal brand updated

ASIM personal brand updated variations

ASIM personal brand updated variations continued

New landing header, modified Valley Web Design illustration: Astro Build Header

Modified “rog on a rock”: Modified rog on a rock

404 image, modified “Premonition 2020”: 404 image

Landing Page: Landing page

Speaking of illustrations

Every year I try and take a couple or a few weeks off to decompress and spend much needed time with the family free of work. I also end up spending some of this time being pulled back into “work” mode but instead of thinking about stuff that I will be returning to I focus on my first love of digital design: illustration. In so many ways just sitting down and sketching or even jumping straight into Illustrator is incredibly relaxing, a perfect way to nourish my soul.

Having said that… I’m planning to expand the illustration section of this website into its own sub entity. The primary focus of this new home for my illustration work will be about all the dumb stuff I make during my free time as well as staging ground for a children’s book. I’ve started to play around with my original style in an attempt to scale it out a bit for a book idea but I’ve also spent even more time actually writing book content that is probably more suited for my core illustration style.

Either way, a lot more to come on this subject later on this year.

Happy New Year everyone, hope 2023 is fruitful and fulfilling in all the ways we wish it to be and above all stay safe and healthy!

astro build pill