New shoes

Piccalilli has been on a holiday for over two months, but has had a complete re-design and re-platforming.

I published issue 32 of the Piccalilli newsletter on the 3rd of January and then later in that month, declared that it was to have a break. This is because I had a plan for it. The plan was to completely transform it into not just a newsletter, but also an education platform!

That holiday is now over because today, this site has gone live and Issue #33 should be in your inboxes.

What’s new permalink

I want to centralise all of my writing and education work, so the main part of the new Piccalilli is the tutorials section and the courses section. Those sections will expand into additional, premium, member-only content in the future, too.

I’ve published 4 tutorials for this launch and published the upcoming courses—the first of which will be Eleventy From Scratch. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the production of these courses, now that I have a solid structure to work with.

I merged in external course sites that I had, such as cssfromscratch.com, because I want to keep all of this stuff under one roof. I’m a big believer in content systems and the way I see it: courses and tutorials will seamlessly link between each other, so you, the reader, can learn as much as possible.

In the further long-term, I’m planning on bringing Front-End Challenges Club in-house, too, because I think that content will compliment content on here very well.

Branding permalink

Piccalilli got a new logo! I put a bucket load of work into this. Branding and logo design isn’t my strength, but I was determined to give myself the full-service, like I would for a client and the end result really shows that. I’m so glad I forced myself to do it properly, because I’m really happy with the end result.

It’s in stark contrast with the first Piccalilli logo, which I did in 10 minutes in Illustrator, and pretty much hated it from day 1. The priority then, though, was prototyping the concept of the Piccalilli newsletter. A lot has changed since then!

I wrote about the logo design process over on my blog. I also set up a brand Twitter account, so it’d be great if you go and follow that too.

Tech stuff permalink

We’ve got to dive into the tech stuff, because there’s some exciting Jamstack business going on.

The site is built with my favourite static site generator, Eleventy. I used my naked starter kit, Hebra to build it as a HTML only site initially, then spent a lot of time designing the look and feel in static design tools. This then led to a progressive enhancement approach of vanilla CSS and finally, vanilla JS.

That approach has paid dividends because the footprint of this site is tiny and the site is getting some seriously good Lighthouse and Web Page Test scores. It’s given me a really solid foundation to work from, so I’m really happy, because I talk about this stuff a lot on the web, so it would be daft if I didn’t practice what I preach.

“How the hell are you doing the newsletter with Eleventy?”, they scream. Well, that’s the magic right there. Because Eleventy is incredibly flexible, it enabled me to use a combination of RSS, Node JS and Postmark to create a lush, web-first system. The original newsletter was very much email-first, which I was never comfortable with. The issues had URLs, but they looked crap. Now, the design priority is on the web versions, with a lighter version being sent to your inbox.

I’ll probably make a tutorial on the newsletter stuff in the future, because it really is a nice way to publish content and much cheaper than using Curated, like I was before.

Wrapping up permalink

This is just a short post to say howdy again and to give you a bit of knowledge about what’s being going on behind the scenes. I’ll also take this opportunity to thank you all again. This newsletter has always surprised me at how popular it is. Issue #33 has been sent to over 2,000 people!! Your support really drives me to make cool stuff.

I’m so happy that this project is in a completely new phase of its life. There’s so much good stuff to come, so stay tuned (and subscribe to the newsletter and RSS).

Until next time, take it easy 🙂