I revamped the design of my Ghost Blog and I explain the choices. Also I have gone from self-hosted to Ghost Pro.
Both the front and the back of this website have been revamped and since my blog is about digital productions I will explain the choices.
The front end
The website is created in Ghost, a system that combines blog and newsletter. It allows me to collect members in order to increase the eventual reach. I chose a theme called "Dawn". It has a front page with the bare essentials on it. You could call it minimalistic but it is highly suited for mobile design. There were also themes that only showed the last published article but I found that less suitable.
The front page of the template has an overview of five titles with the date (without year). If needed, the reader can request more titles. An indication of the reading time is given. Fairly prominent are the buttons subscribe and log in, I was happy with that. There is a menu which also works efficiently on the mobile view. Since I like to place my own photos with an article, the old site might have been colorful but all those flowers, trees and landscapes distracted a bit from my subject.
An article has a bit more frills and also shows the image large. I am very happy with the font "Mulish". I find it aesthetic and easy to read. At the bottom of the page is a button for sharing the article on Twitter and Facebook. The footer shows related articles, I do miss the repetition of a subscription form.
There is a light and a dark version of the website and it automatically changes with the browser settings. This is also quite handy.
I have not yet put much work into the logo but in the new design it is much more prominent. I decided to leave it for now as is because there already where so many changes but I will be looking for something more colorful and striking.
The back end
With the previous version, I did all the hosting myself through DigitalOcean and Mailgun. That was interesting but was also a bit too complicated for me and I have now opted for a Ghost Pro Basic subscription. That costs me 100 euros a year but I don't have to do any updates, backups and the like. The subscription does have some limitations, for example I can't choose all the templates or all the extensions. Still, I prefer it now and remain largely in charge.
The code of the website is very well written and the pages load very fast also on mobile. This is important for readers but also for search engines like Google. The conversion actually went very smooth. And then also to create all the "redirects" on the old domain so as not to lose the visitors there.
What I did not change is the analytics by Plausible. Superfast, private and without cookies. As a matter of fact, the whole site is cookie free. You can see the number of visits on this public dashboard.
Domain and search engine optimization (SEO)
I also changed domains. The old domain somehow conflicted with the domain of someone with the same name as me. Point is precisely that I would like that when people type my name into google that my website is at 1 or 2. Now, despite all the optimizations, my site kept dropping and I opted to re-use a much older domain called hoeijmakers.net. That made a huge difference to me because otherwise I would have had to come up with a totally different domain name. Anyway, now it's exciting whether I will appear properly in Google Search again.
And of course I hope that you as a reader are happy with the redesign.