Here's what happened, in a massively abridged timeline: we started with Squarespace, which is a great platform for certain use-cases, but did not evolve enough to have great page-load times - it is a bit of a bloated product now - but only because of the sheer volume of content that CHILLFILTR® produces. So we moved to Ghost, in a huge and painful data migration that happened over 2 months in the summer of 2019. More info here and here.

Earlier this year I was still new to Ghost, and gravitated towards the first theme I could find that looked good; I just didn't have the time to play around with the presentation layer, so the last theme we had was great and looked fantastic; but there were a few features that I needed that were not there, and over time it became quite an issue. Now, I wish I had more ways to communicate with my web visitors, but as it stands right now, I have to make decisions without the advantage of focus-group testing, or anything like that. I am very much still coding in the dark on this one, so I will never know how many of you are going to miss the old layout, and the fancy mouse-over image flutter, for example, nor will I know how many of you were missing the very same features that I have decided to prioritize. But I will take a minute to explain what is gone, and what is here now for the first time.

Infinite Scroll

The last theme had a lot of Javascript wizardry, as it were, but the problem was that it didn't always work. So, for each page with more than 12 items, the first 12 would be pulled and then the user would have to click 'more' to see anything else. And that had a tile rearranging script that would shuffle things together; it was a cool effect, but didn't always work. So sometimes, the tiles would reshuffle, but they would end up with different images getting stuck on top of each other, with headlines getting covered up, and it was no bueno. Now we have infinite scroll! I love it, and you never again have to click 'more' to see more. You just keep scrolling. Welcome to the 21st century.

The last theme had a custom search function, which looked great, again, but a bit like the entire Squarespace experience, it just wasn't ready for the massive volume of content we have at CHILLFILTR®. So the actual speed of the search was not optimized, and it was just a bad experience - sometimes nothing would happen, and in the best of cases you were waiting 3-4 seconds to see any results at all. With our new customization, I have handed the process over to a custom search; it now happens VERY quickly. So that's great. Check it out here. The search is fast and reliable, and at this point it is completely necessary because if you had a feature published on CHILLFILTR® last year, for example, you would have to do a lot of scrolling to find it. Now you can search and click the result in about 1 second. Huzzah.

Magazine-Style Layout

As much as I enjoyed the previous layout, this new one adds a few benefits, in terms of layout style. I liked the clean, white-background aesthetic, but the layout now is much closer to something like Apple News, in terms of how the tiles move between a few different sizes, and then of course the infinite scroll helps enormously with engagement. I won't know for sure until I see some stats over the next few weeks, but something tells me that a better search and auto-loading new content should play a role in bumping up the number of page views per visitor.

Maintainability

When you are running a one-man shop the way I am, maintainability becomes a massive consideration, something I like to call 'set-it-and-forget-it.' Certain tasks will always be manual, of course, things like the actual content writing and some of the shares that I do, as well as the curation for playlists which takes a fair amount of time. So fiddling with Ghost code is pretty much at the bottom of my list, and the issue with my last theme was that I did so much customization that every new version roll-out was a rather large headache for me. One of the benefits of re-evaluating the 'view' layer from time to time is that you can make optimizations. I have moved as much of my styling into code-injections as possible, which are durable against new theme versions, because they don't live in the Handlebars files; and I removed other customizations in lieu of a drop-in embed, like our new tags page for example. So I am learning as I go, and I'm always finding new ways to simplify.

Thanks for bearing with us as we learn what works, and what doesn't work. If you want to submit music, do that here; if you have any comments, feel free to send a message here.