Setting up a simple web site — part 2
The Medium Edition
This is the second part of my adventure in setting up a simple web site and seeing just how easy it can be (or not) in 2017.
You can see the first part over here. To recap — I’ve set up eHosts site and after a satisfying but limiting experience with SiteBuilder decided to take a plunge and go full cPanel. I’ve been swimming ever since…
Today’s installment — I happened to notice some sites using Medium via their own domain. That would be a nice way to take care of the blog part of the site, at least for now. Since the rest of my needs can be served with a simple HTML home page, I decided to explore this option. So, that’s what we are in for this time — deep dive into Medium publications.
Checking out a post about using Medium and how to use it well. It leads to a few example publications / stories to illustrate formatting options. Let’s take a quick look:
Things to notice:
- picture above the title
- use of sub-title
- centered title and subtitle
- interesting use of background color + picture. How is this done?
Things to notice:
- custom URL. This is what a basic “publication” looks like I think
- Image as a dropped cap
- dividers between parts
Things to notice:
- parallax effects in the first and last images of the story
- There is also some kind of an interactive banner floating over the first picture. A press on the button leads to another article / publication.
- Apparently these features are not supported any more
While we are at it, a small observation about reader experience — it’s hard to keep focus! Medium keeps giving you more interesting things to read, and they are not necessarily related to what you are reading but rather to your full reading history. So it’s kind of sticky for readers. But for a publisher, I don’t have a sense that I am providing the reader with a any kind of coherent experience. They will just hop off to some other article and forget all about my story.
It’s basically just a comic strip made as a series of pictures. Funny :) But from the technique point of view there is not much to learn here. But it’s cool and funny :) And it’s about a dog!
Continuing with the Buffer Social post, let’s see what stats are available on Medium for writers.
Well, those 16 views were probably just me. But it’s hard to tell. Anyway, this is not the point right now. It was all the same day too. I think Medium floats new content to readers to see if they like it, then drops it if there is no good reaction. Makes sense.
Let’s see, here are some writing shortcuts for Medium.
- Ok, so bold, italic work.
- Numbered list
- Also works
- 1. with number?
- doesn’t work — so still no sub-lists :(
Dmitry Serebrennikov @mentions work
Some kind of TK reminders.
Separator with Ctrl + Enter. Nice.
``` starts a code block. That's handy!
inline code starts with a single tick mark (but how do you quote?)
Features images (select one image to be used in previews — Ctrl+F) and links on images.
Image options depend on image size! Image has to be “large enough” to get 4 options on the toolbar. Left-aligned images allow text to flow around them. But why only left- and not right-aligned?
Image grids — upload multiple images to generate.
Drop Caps are described here. You can drag and drop an image onto basic drop cap to us the image instead.
One can just embed a web page:
MongoDB for GIANT Ideas - Build innovative modern applications that create a competitive advantage.www.mongodb.com
Or a anything embed.ly supports.
Let’s try Flikr for example:
It’s possible to control story visibility. Basically unlisted stories are hidden but anyone with a URL can read them.
Publications can add people as writers — so I can have collaborators publish on my blog. Good.
Long Story Short
Done deal! I settled on Medium handling the blog and site serving from eHosts via Joomla. You can see the main site here: http://nitecodergroup.com
It’s not as good as the SiteBuilder but overall it’s acceptable. For now. In Joomla I ended up using a custom template engine called Gantry. It’s supposed to be able to create layouts independent of the actual CMS being used, so theoretically this should translate to WordPress if I need it.
I was hoping to obtain some measure of drag-and-drop editing from Gantry. And it does look pretty and give some ability to arrange the page visually. For now, I just took one of Gantry’s samples and hack it into submission. But all of the images used and text that shows up on the home page is specified in HTML fragments within Gantry’s dialogs.
So, in the end, it’s back to HTML and probably CSS at some point. But no matter. It still does help out in making a pretty site without knowing too much coding. I had spend a lot of time on Joomla and other CMSs. Mainly this is because they are not geared for making a home page. Rather they presume a blog. But since I’m going with Medium for that, perhaps I can take another pass at single-page app toolkits, or something, to manage the rest of the site.
But for now, I’m done. I have my site and a blog and they look good. On to next steps now!