New Website & Blog!

By Katie Kowalsky | January 3, 2016

In the spirit of creating a fresh start in 2016, I’ve been a little busy. First I wanted to celebrate the end of my second to last semester of college (!!!) by taking a break, but after a few days, I wanted to celebrate the Katie Kowalsky way: doing fun graphics & building a fresh website.

The website needed an overhaul. I had my old design since 2014, when I was learning HTML/CSS & Javascript and was okay, but not my best foot forward. I’m not necessarily a perfectionist (more of a pragmatist), but if something’s not right, I have to fix it. I wanted to move my blog in-house for some time. I hate Wordpress because of its lack of freedom and the overall design disconnect from my website. So I switched to Jekyll, a groovy CMS all the cool kids (Lyzi, Sam, and Robin) are using.

Why Jekyll?

Well besides the fact that three awesome carto-friends are using it (and host it on github so I can look at their code when I get stuck!), it also lets met make a website really fast. For instance, if I need to edit my navbar, I only have to do that in one place, not on every page that has the navbar! Jekyll generates a lot of things for me so I don’t have to. I’ve wanted to delve into SASS/LESS and Markdown more, so this was also a perk. Essentially, this is awesome & simple-stupid.

New Design

As I get ready to graduate & become an adult (a real adult who knows what a 401k is and how to properly cook kale), I wanted to make my website really represent me. I felt the old design was safe, stuck in the bootstrap-style portfolio websites that are great, but I knew I could do better.

My favorite color is chartreuse. This is like the cilantro of colors- you either love it or hate it. Obviously, this is a color that has to be used sparingly and isn’t really present in any maps I make (or in my clothes/apartment). But I adore it for it’s zany brightness & citrusy feel. So I wanted to use it a lot more. I also adore gradients (and think they’re having a web design comeback!) so I incorporated a nice turquoise to balance this dish (I’ve been watching a lot of Chopped! as of late and it’s seeping into everything I do).

The background cube texture has a lot to do with my love of geometric forms, tessellations, and MC Escher. I also loved how subtle I could reference this with a background and not have a boring white background.


The reason to use my favorite color, gradients, and a geometric texture reflects a lot of the growth I’ve done since my first website. I’ve become a teacher, leader, developer, designer, and full-fledged cartographer. It’s important that I share my personal narrative through my work and my blog, so why not in the design of my website?

That’s one of the reasons for my starterpack that I do every year… It’s a chance for me to catalogue what synthesized ‘Katie Kowalsky’ at that particular moment. I’ve never loved keeping a diary (except for travel logs) so I view this as a way to way my design sensibilities grow and become even more personal.

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