Welcome To My First Official Blog

Donovan Nagel
Written by Donovan Nagel


This is the first official post on this site.

After almost a decade establishing and building one of the most popular language learning/polyglot blogs, I decided it’s time to branch out a little.

I don’t like being boxed in by one niche.

So, in the interests of separating out my content and freeing myself from the confines of a single topic, I built this site under my own personal name so I can freely share what’s on my heart on non-language related topics.

Still undecided on its precise direction but we’ll see where it all leads.

DonovanNagel.com is a blog for “everything else”

For now, my six primary areas of focus (things I really care about) are: Faith, Family, Entrepreneurship, Health, Politics and Tech.

This is how I plan to categorize this site.

I’ve touched briefly on all of these areas on MezzoGuild over the years (as they pertain to language learning) but I’ve done so cautiously and with mixed results.

Sometimes it was well-received. Other times not at all.

Regarding tech, I already run a blog and YouTube channel called iBSD (FreeBSD and OpenBSD focus) which has generated quite a lot of interest in a short time.

But even with BSD I felt that this was quite restrictive.

I’ve used that platform to cover other areas of tech such as LaTeX and web development/design which aren’t directly relevant to BSD. Talking about web design on a channel dedicated to BSD operating systems just seemed inappropriate! 😊

Similarly, I’ve talked about my family, politics and faith issues on my language blog which I’m sure most people had little interest in hearing about.

The problem in any niche is that if you veer off on a tangent too often, you lose your readers.

A GatsbyJS sandbox

So, this site’s currently built with GatsbyJS .

I hit a point about a year ago where I decided I really can’t blog with Wordpress anymore.

Using it these days just feels dirty. 😊

I can’t tell you the amount of headache involved in managing multiple sites running Wordpress while having to repair dodgy 3rd party plugins that break after routine updates.

I spend so much time Googling for solutions to problems that I have almost zero time left for writing content.

Given the resurgence of static site building these days as an alternative (static is cool again :sunglasses:), I decided to make the switch.

You can hear more about my progress with Jekyll and Hugo on my iBSD channel .

While I love both Jekyll and Hugo and see them as superior to Wordpress in almost every way, I think I’ve finally settled on Gatsby.

This may change though.

Gatsby’s a static site generator but it’s leaps and bounds different to the others.

It’s been a massive learning curve and lot more work compared to other SSG’s (I’ve had to teach myself React over the past few weeks).

But despite the difficulty, the end product is simply mindblowing.

I’ll talk a lot more about why this is in posts to come.

For the time being, this blog will act as a Gatsby sandbox - a way for me to experiment and run tests, try out plugins and optimization techniques, and so on.

The design is temporary until I get all the functionality worked out.

My main goal with SSG’s is finding ways to achieve a perfect (or near perfect) Lighthouse score and to rank higher in search.

SEO is becoming more and more cutthroat these days, and since speed is considered a major factor, then why not give yourself an edge over every Tom, Dick and Harry’s shared-hosted Wordpress blog by going static?

I’m curious to see if it makes any difference at all over time.

Google Lighthouse currently has my largest Wordpress site (already heavily optimized) struggling to stay over 40% on speed (it gets down to 15% on pages with iframes, images and lots of comments) whereas Gatsby is up close to 100% out of the box with little effort spent on optimizations.

Lighthouse Score Wordpress

Lighthouse Score Gatsby

Green feels good. 😉

The only reason why this Gatsby performance score isn’t quite 100% is because I’m running the site on httpd on OpenBSD with no gzip or Brotli compression.

I’ll consider changing httpd to apache at a later date.

If I’m successful in achieving my optimization objectives with this blog, I’ll move my other blogs over.

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