It was a little over a year ago when I first discovered Neocities, a free website host and community that hearkens back to the Old Web. Here, people who love to hand-code websites and other projects come to create – or in my case – recreate a little echo of web history on the modern net.
I didn’t make a lot of headway into my restoration project until the middle of 2021, and when I did, I rediscovered my love of coding static HTML websites. In fact, I not only finished moving over my original project, but I went on to move several more.
I picked up a Supporter account at Neocities for only $5 a month. This provides a lot more storage, the ability to upload more than just basic HTML and text files – MIDIs, for example – and increases the number of sub-accounts you can own to 30. On top of that, it allows you to route a domain per Neocities account – which opened up a lot of opportunity for me.
That’s when the real projects began. In fact, I even quietly removed content from this blog (again) just because it’s been so fun to work on different web projects outside of a WordPress environment.
So here’s what I’ve got!
Sygnus Star was the original restoration project I started working on last year.
This was a recreation of my Final Fantasy IV fan site that dated back to the late 1990s and early 2000s. The files that I worked off of were dated at about 2004.
I had to rework some of the layout and recode each page to pull from a stylesheet – back in the time this was coded, stylesheets weren’t in use. I did add some java modals for art galleries and added new pieces of art to the site. I have some more things to add to it down the line, but I’m in no rush to get it done.
Though the main bulk of the project is the Blue Planet fan section, I also moved over the entire Coming of the Darkstar writing project. I learned how to move comments out of WordPress and migrate them to Disqus for this. I have intentions to move more of my old writing projects to Neocities next year in a similar way. I’d love to completely transfer my Sygnus.org domain over one day… we’ll see.
Spot of Mummery
Spot of Mummery – my FFXIV fansite – was my most ambitious attempt at a hand-coded site. I made it from scratch, and then, I moved a lot of content off of the second WordPress.com account that I was paying for (it was cheaper).
This was the first site that I connected one of my domains to. It’s also the site that I update the most frequently.
I discovered how to take the HTML/CSS layout and use it as my Tumblr layout. This makes an almost seamless connection between the static HTML site and the Tumblr, which I use as a blog.
I also learned how to code a RSS feed, which I do have to manually update as I put out content for this page.
I’m very pleased with this project over all, even if it does take more time and effort to post new content.
Mystik Haven is a recreation of an old FFIX fansite that I first launched back in 2000. Again, these were the original files that I discovered when poking through old folders on a hard drive.
I did update the site to use stylesheets, new fonts and some CSS buttons. But for the most part, it’s all as I left it back in the day. This site won’t be getting any new updates – it’s mostly just there for the memories and because I could rebuild it.
My fiddle blog is back under a new name – Lilting Fiddle! It hasn’t seen a lot of new content yet because I’ve only just finished building it earlier this month.
I really missed having a fiddle blog that could stand on its own. I know at the beginning of 2021, I went through this consolidation thing where I pulled all of my content here into this blog – fiddle, uke and diamond painting. I thought it would work, but in the end, all it resulted in was next to no writing about any of those topics.
Not only that, but my fiddle practice fell off a cliff in 2021, and I think part of that was because I missed writing about it in its own space. So I once again moved my fiddle content from this blog to Neocities.
Hand-coding a working blog system in a static HTML environment is possible, but far more time consuming than I wanted. So, for this project, I purchased a website builder program called Nicepage. I use it somewhat like a CMS behind the scenes – building my pages in the program, then exporting them to static HTML and uploading them in Neocities.
Nicepage has a blog section for the sites that you build, and while it’s still rudimentary and being developed, it does most of what I need it to do when it comes to building a blog that’s not run on a PHP foundation.
It’s not absolutely perfect, but I’m happy with the outcome.
Ukes N Snails
I’ve had it in my head to make a separate ukulele website for a long time. I knew exactly what I wanted to call it, too. I pulled all the uke posts off this blog and moved them over to this new site earlier this month.
This was another site/blog that I am building in Nicepage – I really strove to capture a very specific aesthetic for this particular website. I think I mostly accomplished that.
This will likely be a smaller blog going forward, and it doesn’t have a domain name attached to it yet. I’m not sure it’ll ever need one, either. It’s mostly just my little corner to inspire me to continue practicing music.
Wren’s Diamond Painting Log
This is the page where I keep a log of all of the diamond painting projects I’ve worked on. This has moved from several locations in the past – first on Sygnus.org, then to my Aywren Tumblr, then, I did start to make a log on Neocities, but didn’t like how the layout was working.
Another site built using the Nicepage builder for speed and design. It won’t ever have a blog attached to it, and probably won’t get a domain, but it will hopefully inspire me to keep working on all these diamond painting projects I have sitting in my stash!
And finally, my personal Neocities page – Aywren’s Nook. This was another hand coded page.
I wanted a hub site for all the other sites I’ve been working on. A place where I can gather things like the website resources I’ve used to code and upkeep my sites. I also would like to expand this into several small “shrine” sites for topics I’m interested in but don’t want a full-on separate webpage about.
This is another example of where I took the HTML/CSS design and used it for a Tumblr layout, embedding the Tumblr as a blog.
And there you go! The bulk of my website design work from 2021. Looking forward to where next year takes me with these projects!