Simplicity was my goal when I first decided to build this site for myself.

I wanted the design to be stripped back but elegant to emphasise the text and avoid the usual clutter of sidebars and other paraphernalia found on most blogs.

I also wanted it to be very easy to host, maintain and update.

The Design

When designing this site I knew I wanted to emulate the many beautifully constructed, minimalist web sites I’d encountered over the years. In the front of my mind were those by: Jon Tan, Dean Allen, Dario Taraborelli, Ryan Tomayko, and Alex Payne.

As text is the focus, I had to learn a few things about good typography. Two resources that helped immensely were The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web and Mark Boulton’s Five Simple Steps to better typography. I recommend these to anyone who wants to present stylish, readable web pages.

The main text of this site is set in Palatino with headings in Lucida Grande.1 For those interested in some of the other design tricks used here you can have a look at the stylesheet.

The Mechanics

The content of this site begins life as a directory full of text files on my computer in a format called Markdown.

The stylesheet I use for the site was built with the help of CSSEdit. When I do create diagrams for my posts these are invariably made with OmniGraffle. I push all of these out to my GitHub repository using the version control system git.

To update the site, the text files are first transformed into HTML by Pandoc with MathJax looking after the LaTeX equation rendering. Hakyll orchestrates the whole process, adding headers, navigation bars and the like, creating a directory full of static HTML ready to be served.

Finally, I then simply rsync the newly created site to my server.


Unless specified otherwise, all design and content within this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

What this means is you are free to use my design and content non-commercially provided you don’t try to pass it off as your own. A simple link back to my site with an attribution is enough, like these fine people have done.2

I was recently pleased to discover that my design was included in the jekyll bootstrap project as one of the themes.

If you also use some of my stuff and I’ll add you to this list.

  1. This should be the case on Macs. These fonts may not be standard on earlier Windows or Linux machines, in which case Georgia or Times New Roman and the default sans serif fonts are substituted.

  2. Some people may have since changed their design, I don’t keep track on a regular basis.