Minimum Viable Blog

Cover Image for Minimum Viable Blog

Publishing the first post on this site has me thinking about what I want to see from a blog in the year 2022. This post was initially titled "Best in Class Blog", but perhaps best in class is too high a standard. I think "Minimum Viable Blog" better encapsulates my current goals.

As a developer first and a writer somewhere significantly further down the chain, I also find this easier to ponder than the somewhat more difficult questions of what I should write about, how often, and why.

Here are the things that I want my site to have as a minimum from a reader perspective. These come mainly from what I want to see when reading content, and nothing more complex or scientific than that.

  1. RSS feed

RSS is fantastic. For several reasons. In my opinion, the best advantage is the power and control it gives the reader to consume the content they choose on their terms. Updates are delivered as you write them, bypassing engagement algorithms. RSS is pretty darn good.

There are a ton of amazing RSS apps out there, but the one I am using currently is Net News Wire (More news, less junk. Faster.).

"NetNewsWire shows you articles from your favourite blogs and news sites and keeps track of what you’ve read.

This means you can stop going from page to page in your browser looking for new articles to read. Do it the easy way instead: let NetNewsWire bring you the news.

And, if you’ve been getting your news via Facebook — with its ads, algorithms, user tracking, outrage, and misinformation — you can switch to NetNewsWire to get news directly and more reliably from the sites you trust.

Take back control of your news. With free, high-quality, native apps for Mac and iOS."

For this site, I adapted the instructions posted by Riccardo Bevilacqua on riccardo.codes as I am using Next JS and Tailwind CSS, but there are many ways to do this.

  1. Dark mode friendly

I blame learning to code. Dark mode in IDE's and terminals ruined me. However, I have recently seen the light. After being a long time dark side only user, I have now rejoined the light side during the hours between dawn to dusk. Funnily enough, what flipped the switch was a few instances of creating UI's that just didn't work half as well in light mode in my iOS apps, and I decided that the best substitute for rigorous testing is just using your apps in both light and dark mode frequently. This brings me to my point, that if your site is blindingly white when a user has dark mode enabled, then you may not have a good excuse for burning your readers' retinas. As I type this out I realise I need to implement this before I publish, I've painted myself into a corner here. I stand by it though, a responsive dark mode is relatively achievable with most modern frameworks and a nice touch. Don't annoy your users by blinding them immediately. Annoy them the old fashioned way, with your writing.

For this site I learned from the example posted by Avneesh Agarwal on javascript.plainenglish.io, the Tailwind dark mode documentation and the prefers-color-scheme documentation at Mozilla to create a solution I like.

  1. Sane preview

The year is 2022. I kind of think everything should have a preview at this point, right? Unless the site explicitly requires not having a preview, maybe to avoid spoilers? Look, that seems very niche. For the most part, I want everything I receive to show me a preview, a short description and all that good stuff. How else will I know whether I genuinely want to open that link that was unceremoniously dumped into the group chat with no context? If you create a sane preview, then you have given your readers a minimum of context if they are unlucky enough to have your content dumped on them without warning.

I hope that my choices to implement these make the reading experience better for you, as they do for me. If there are things that could improve it further, please let me know!