Deprecating the WordPress website – and slowly transitioning to Squarespace

Since 2019, I’ve had an alternative visual portfolio run on Squarespace that provides a more visual look at my projects. Originally intended as a maker portfolio for college admissions, it’s now getting more updated than my main website. Oops!

There’s a few reasons for why I’ve preferred the Squarespace website over my WordPress website:

  • It’s got 95% less text than my WordPress site
  • Making pages about projects is a lot simpler – since it’s more image based and not as text-heavy
  • Maintaining and updating the dozens of projects I have on this site is extremely tricky – especially when some project pages are thousands of words long.
  • My writing style is fine, but not great. Sometimes I can pull out a really funny, fast-paced article (see CS Realms), but most of the time, it’s a slow, boring, monotone slog.
  • Trying to balance writing about technical details while also keeping it simple enough for people to understand without a technical background is near-impossible. But, if I go into total nerdland, almost nobody will understand what I’m trying to talk about.

But, I’ve always justified keeping the WordPress site around for the “tech writeups”. Basically, you go to the portfolio if you’re “short on time”, and then come here for the long writeups. This…doesn’t work. The portfolio sits in my top menu bar with no indication that “hey, this is where you go if you’re short on time”. Only the About page explains this.

It’s clear that my WordPress site has become unsustainable – and as I have less and less free time, I can’t justify spending hours writing up a 2,000 word article that very few people will read.

(also – my current WordPress theme just isn’t great. Squarespace looks 10x better)

So, what’s next?

Switching my online presence from the WordPress site to the Squarespace site – while also being mindful of preserving old content, and my web server setup.

 

How’s this gonna happen?

Slowly, but surely.

I’ll start moving everything over to the WordPress site in December 2020 – but keep in mind that not everything will move over. I need to figure out which projects are technically projects (like the Ultimate Wireless Router, that’s incredibly hard for me to consider a project now). This might take a while, I am pretty busy.

Once this is all done, I’ve gotta fiddle with my server setup so that I can still point https://owenthe.dev at my OVH server (Squarespace offers no static hosting, and so that’s a slight issue), but also have owenthe.dev redirect to Squarespace. I’m thinking that hitting the base https://owenthe.dev will redirect to https://www.owenthe.dev – which is where the actual portfolio will live.

Of course, that brings the fun issue of mapping the Squarespace links. I need to see how I can do this – maybe a Python/Flask combo that will ping Squarespace, see if it returns a 404 or 200 at the URL, move you to Squarespace if there’s a 200, and display a raw 404 otherwise. To my knowledge, there aren’t any hard URL conflicts on Squarespace with the current site setup.

 

When’s this gonna happen?

I’ll start the transition over to Squarespace in December 2020, but it might take until February/March 2021 to complete the transition. Timing is super unknown right now.

During the transition, the main site will basically be frozen (aside from Dovetail’s DLC – and you bet that’s moving over). If you keep going to the portfolio, you’ll start to see a lot more stuff on there.

 

Will the WordPress site stay up?

Yes. I’ll keep the main WordPress site alive for backwards compatibility with Google SEO. I’m thinking that hitting https://owenthe.dev/old will just redirect you to the base https://owenthe.dev (without that additional redirect out to Squarespace). I need to see how I’ll set that up in Apache.

 

So, that’s what’s happening. It’s been super fun updating and keeping this WordPress site alive for many years (5 at this point), but as the times change, and I do too, the way I represent myself online must also change. Simply put, I feel as if this WordPress site doesn’t do a good enough job at representing my projects.

 

TL;DR: I’m moving to Squarespace.

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