For a long time, I've been unhappy with the layout and design of the Discord Dungeons website. As with anything you build, it gets old quickly, and that's what happened here and I finally decided to do something about it.
So, what's the issue?
I'm glad you asked.
The issue isn't loading times or anything technical, but purely design and layout, it's old and builds on a material design-esque concept that isn't very well executed.
Along with this, the current design makes it hard to add new pages, for example for the team. Along with this, the design of several pages and sub-domains aren't even close to being the same!
Okay... How do you fix that?
Simple. Rebuild everything from scratch.
Okay, not really from scratch.
I started out long ago with browsing templates, looking for designs to replicate as I had no idea what I wanted the new website to look like.
I searched every template site I could find on Google, searching for things such as "Community Site Template", "Game Website Templates", even so far as to search for "Social media Template".
Then I found a layout.
I found a layout that was being used for a cryptocoin website and I started replicating some of their layout as a starting point for the new website.
That's great! Can I go back to playing games now?
Sorry, but the story doesn't end there.
As always, setting up a new website and building it from "scratch" means you need to fill in all your placeholder texts, which when you lack any good writing skills is a real pain. For this, I reached out to the community on our Discord server several times asking them for help.
And I didn't get any.
Don't get me wrong, I did get some help and suggestions for improving the layout and what I could write and how to make it easier, but I didn't get any help with the actual writing of the text to have in place of the placeholders.
As I needed lots of text for the staff biographies too, I instead setup a quick and dirty google form for the staff to write their own biographies in third person, which not only saves me lots of time, but it also lets the staff add some humor and personality to them, great!
Can I play games now?
We're still not done with the story, Jimmy, calm down.
But I had no way to get people there.
I started with re-purposing the
#!suggest command to instead of sending a message to a channel in our Discord whenever someone used it, the command would instead send a link to the new platform at https://ideas.discorddungeons.me.
Along with this, I locked that channel and sent a message prompting people to use the new platform.
Great, what's the issue with that?
The link is hard to remember and takes ages to type.
What's the solution then?
What's a shortlink?
Have you ever seen a bit.ly or goo.gl link?
Those are shortlinks.
So you used bit.ly and goo.gl links, alright.
That's where you're wrong.
These services are open to everyone, but that's an issue in this case.
As they are open, anyone can create a shortlink with them and assign whatever url slugs they want to it, for example
But what happens when they're already taken?
Now, some of you might tell me that bit.ly has a feature for using your own domains on it.
Have you ever tried upgrading to their enterprise plan?
It's a pain, and it has no straight forward pricing, and even if it did, it would probably be way too much money for the small amounts of links I'd be needing.
Okay, so no shortlinks then...?
Wrong again, Jimmy.
Enter Rebrandly, a service that I found through the same page as I found Fider on that lets you have up to five custom domains, a thousand shortlinks, https and lots more for the low low price of zero dollars a month, awesome!
I put some research into it, decided it was great for what I needed, got an account and it asked me for what domain I wanted to use for the shortlinks.
I didn't have a domain to use for them, I hadn't thought that long.
Thinking back and forth, I finally ended up with
drpg.xyz as it's the short name for Discord RPG, the name of the bot, and because I knew .xyz domains were cheap from previous experience.
I opened up TLD List to look for the cheapest place to register a domain and to see if it was available, and it was!
I snapped up the domain, added it to a free Cloudflare plan, set the domain to use Cloudflares nameservers instead of the registrars and then it was just a waiting game.
Great, are we done?
Nope. Still one issue left to resolve.
If you went to https://drpg.xyz, it would show you a blank Rebrandly page.
And what's the issue with that?
I wanted it to redirect to the main page.
At first, I thought I could set that up using Rebrandly, but after looking around for a solid 30 minutes, I didn't find anything that would let me, so I reached out to the aforementioned friend for some help and to ask how he had set it up.
Ofcourse, a Cloudflare page rule.
All I needed to do was to add a page rule using Cloudflare to redirect
Okay, I just want to play games, can you end the story?
Have some patience, Jimmy.
To increase the web presence and as a way to share mine and the other staff members thoughts, news about the Discord server or the bot, or even some changelogs, I wanted to setup a blog of some sort.
Looking around at several alternatives long ago, I contemplated on using Tumblr.
I decided not to for some obvious reasons and that it wouldn't suit our needs.
I decided to give Medium a try, the same platform Discord themselves use.
I registered an account and tried to setup a blog for us.
What a pain that was.
No custom domains and no straight-forward editing.
I decided not to as it was too much of a hassle.
Enter Ghost, a free self-hosted platform with lots of features and ease of use.
As it's self-hosted, it's easy to edit the source code, use a custom domain and lots more.
With that, the new frontpage will hopefully be released soon, but there's still lots of work to do and I have no estimated time of when it will be up, but I will be sure to let everyone know when it is!
And yes Jimmy, you can go play games now.