How I Created This Website

How I Created This Website

April 16, 20246 min readLive Site

Play. Learn. Experiment. Build. Journal.

This website,, is a place that provides all of these things for me. So, how do I build it?

The Goals In Mind

The website I have in mind needs to operate like a fully-fledged web application.

  1. It uses the fundamentals: I can use the building blocks of web development (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) for the base as I add more powerful, higher levels of abstraction.
  2. It is well-structured: I can use composable, maintainable units of code to build the application.
  3. It intelligently handles data: I can quickly fetch, cache, and deliver content.
  4. It manage global and local state: I can store, move, and update memory across the application.
  5. It streamlines production: I can publish new posts, write new components, and add to the website with as little friction as possible.
  6. It is battle-tested: I can add new designs and features, and I do not break existing code or introduce new bugs.
  7. It is accessible for everyone : I can deliver a meaningful, inclusive experience for all users, regardless of their abilities.
  8. It has great design: I can provide user interfaces that are visually engaging, responsive, and easy to use.
  9. It is capable and performant by modern standards: I can leverage existing application frameworks to handle modern requirements (SEO, SSR, etc.). Let's go through each of these requirements, one by one.

The Fundamentals

My very first attempt at creating my own website failed miserably. I chose Jekyll for my website builder, but I did not have any basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, or JavaScript. I knew and wrote solely Markdown, but I was unhappy with the results.

I could not make it interactive (because I did not know JavaScript), I could not build upon the preexisting structure (because I did not know HTML), and I could not create a delightful, customizable design (because I did not know CSS). There were large gaps between what I knew and what I could do.

So, this website is built from the ground up, with my own <div> tags, async / await functions, and .post > p selectors galore. The important asterisk is that this website is not built with just vanilla HTML, JS, and CSS. Almost no modern website is. There are many, many more features that are expounded upon in the rest of the article that I use, but the basic building blocks remain: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Let's go!

The User Interface Engine

In order to create an application that can adeptly scale in size and complexity, I need to reach for a UI framework or library. I chose React.

React does has its flaws. I believe React is verbose and superfluously complex, more so than great alternatives like Svelte and Vue. React also uses a virtual DOM instead of a compiler to render UI to the browser, and in turn, their rendering engine is less performant than competitors.

But I also recognize that React (being the first of the composable, feature-rich UI libraries) has the largest ecosystem of third-party libraries. Picking React means picking the countless tools built for React that help elevate the developer and user experiences.

Furthermore, the application framework I choose (which I discuss later in the post) is also an incredibly important decision to make, and many application frameworks are closely tied to a UI framework that they build upon.

So React is the one for me. At least, for this website.

How We Handle Data

The primary purpose of almost all software applications is not to perform calculations, but to store and retrieve information (in this case, blog posts) - usually as fast as possible.

The data I store and retrieve here is entirely first-party information. All markdown posts (specifically, MDX) are stored in a separate local folder. At build time, when the website optimizes and readies itself for production, the HTML for each individual page with a matching post will be created.

A compiler turns the .mdx files into .jsx files, entering React's territory. React then commits the JSX to the browser, and a post is statically generated, ready to be cached in a CDN and served to users around the globe.

Later this year, I think I will add third-party information like ESPN sports data to create a dashboard that follows my favorite sports teams. And I will add a first-party database to provide likes and comments for posts, too.

State Management

State is information that I want to persist throughout the application. For this website, I leaned on both global and local state management solutions.

next-themes is a truly simple and effective way to provide light and dark themes for the website. And Zustand is a great solution for global state management. They allow the user to trigger actions in one area of code that propagate to the entirety of the application. This is useful for dialogs, drop-down menus, and more.

For example, "Zen Mode" allows the user to close the sidebar and list layouts to focus on the blog content. I used Zustand stores to open and close the layouts whenever the user clicks on the Zen Mode button.

Staying Productive

Maybe the most important key for the long-term success of this website is to reduce friction for production. If I can write and publish posts without it being a pain in the butt, then I can do this for a long time. I think I found a easy way, but I definitely will reflect and improve it as time passes.

First, I write every post in Obsidian, where I also keep all my notes. I like Obsidian for several reasons: I can sync my posts across devices for future reference, I can store them in the same locality as my notes for other things, and Obsidian marks up whatever I write to create a pleasant authoring experience.

Then I copy the source code from Obsidian and paste it into a .mdx file in my project. All I have to do is add, commit, and push, and the site is updated.


This is the one glaring missing piece in my code. The focus right now is to get the website up and running quickly, and I definitely will come back to fix this.

Accessible for Everyone

Accessibility is something that I want to get better at. I definitely will read the MDN docs about it, but for now, my knowledge of accessibility is limited to knowing that ShadCN (more on them in a bit) takes care of it for me.

Good Design

I want to give credit to briOS. His design enables someone to read and explore posts in a very friendly, natural way. Although the implementation of our websites are different, the spirit is the same.

ShadCN is also a huge part of the design of this website.