Out with the old, in with the new

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A little over a year ago I blogged about my move to the Ghost blogging platform. Since then, I have been very happy with Ghost; as an early adopter, Ghost is rapidly changing with monthly releases which adds new functionality and performance improvements, meaning it goes from strength to strength.

Recently, Ghost announced the release of version 1, which is a major rework of the underlying source code. I had been putting off the upgrade, as I needed a new theme (<v1 API no longer functioned) and do a full system rebuild. It all takes time and not a spur of the moment decision. I decided to take the plunge (with a pack of cider) last night and embarked on the long and fun task of creating a new theme and setting up a new server.

It wasn't painless, there were server configuration issues, disqus comment loss (fixed!) and pesky browser issues. All sorted now.

Theme

I decided to use the Casper theme, which comes with the Ghost, as the core template. I worked to add new functionality and design elements. I am pretty happy with how it looks on desktop and mobile. There are a few rendering issues which I will tackle over the next few weeks.

You can download the theme (and fork) on via my GitHub repo here.

Speed

With Google placing an emphasis on the page loading, I decided to pro-actively seek to streamline assets, images and content.

Leightley.com speed before updating

As you can see, the old site took more than 1 second to load. Granted, it is supposedly 73% faster than other tested sites, I knew I could get it faster. I also wanted to improve the page loading. Using Cloudflare to cache assets and optimising images has resulted in a significant reduction in page loading times.

Leightley.com speed after updating

Boom! cut more than 1 second off the page loading time and reduce the size of the page. I still think I can improve the loading speed, but that’s a job for another day.

Ads

I was actually making some money off the Google ads, which were being served in the sidebar. However, I always disliked having ads, and they served no real purpose as this blog is not about making money. Therefore, I removed the ads and they will not be making a re-appearance.

Next steps

I will be working on the theme over the next few weeks to iron out a few of the kinks, add new features and improve device compatibility.

Tags

new blog leightley design
Daniel Leightley

Daniel Leightley

Hi, I'm Daniel Leightley PhD, a researcher based in the United Kingdom. I work with machine learning, computer vision and big data for healthcare research

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