This website was made by Noelle Leigh. She is a software developer and artist who finally decided to make a legit website for her work.

Noelle on other platforms

Website Background

I come from a pretty computer-literate family, and because of that I've had a personal website of my own since I was very young. I don't even remember how I authored it but it was primarily a photo gallery of my LEGO creations. Later as I started high school, I had a WordPress site that served as blog and gallery for my photography.

But by the time I started college, my motivation for maintaining a website decreased significantly. This was due to a number of factors:

  1. Maintenance difficulty: Anyone who has administered a WordPress site of any complexity knows that staying on top of updates for plugins and WordPress itself is a time-consuming and thankless task, despite being absolutely necessary to prevent your site from being compromised.

    Part of this was also a general lack of knowledge of how WordPress really worked and how web servers really function. Those details are abstracted away by many hosting services, and as a result I had no feeling of ownership or understanding for my site as a whole, and if something wasn't working I had no idea where to start fixing it.

  2. Social Web: The most engaging parts of being online come from interacting with others, and that resulted in me pouring my online energy into large centralized sites like Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. The network effect was so strong that it made hosting my content on my own site feel impractical.

  3. Uncertain identity (personal and professional): What would I want to have on my website? What sort of personal brand did I want to project into the world? At this time in my life, I felt adrift in an ocean of depression, anxiety, and dysphoria, which paralyzed me with indecision.

    Once I knew I wanted to change my name, it became even more difficult to contemplate having a website because I would also need a domain name. Since I didn't have a "brand name" beyond my own name, I knew I would have to be very certain that my name wouldn't change again before deciding on a domain, because cool URLs don't change.


There were a few factors that changed my mind:

  1. Platforms can disappear overnight (R.I.P. Monsterpit 😢).
  2. Social media accounts can be lost through no fault of your own.
  3. Mutuals on social media began making their own sites to host their work.
  4. I found a good domain name that I don't anticipate changing in the future.


I'm a fan of JavaScript and the new features it makes available on the Web, but the thought of having to get into the weeds of writing performant, secure, and maintainable code that works across browsers and didn't break the site in its absence was unbearable. Websites have gotten so much bigger, slower, and tedious to use that visiting sites which eschew "modern" design in favor of uncomplicated, semantic, accessible HTML really opened my eyes to what my "ideal" website could be. Pages like Motherfucking Website, Brutalist Web Design, and websites on the XXIIVV Webring (of which this site is a member) demonstrated a different set of priorities that I found really appealing.

Due to this, I knew I'd want to build a website using a static site generator, as a nice middle ground between 100% manually authored pages and a CMS running server-side code. There's a lot of options out there with their own pros and cons, and I eventually settled on Eleventy thanks to its use of (compile-time) JavaScript. Being able to use features that I know and love from the language while only targeting the Node.js runtime allows for the fun of JavaScript to rise to the surface.

For website source hosting, I was hesitant to rely on the de facto standard of GitHub due to their unwillingness to distance themselves from working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcemen. Soon after that news came out, I learned about Sourcehut, which had just posted a blog post denouncing GitHub and stating Sourcehut's antifascist ideals. In addition, it uses little to no JavaScript to provide its featureset, which seemed appropriate considering what kind of website I wanted to build. I made an account, loved it, and I've been hosting my website source code there ever since, even submitting code patches of my own to improve Sourcehut for the community!

Finding web hosting was the next challenge, as most Jamstack hosting providers seem to exclusively integrate with GitHub, BitBucket, or GitLab for Git-based deployment. I eventually settled on Netlify (which has close ties to Eleventy) after I learned that it is possible to use it with Sourcehut by following their manual setup instructions with the Netlify CLI. So far I've been very pleased with their service, and being free of the responsibility of administrating a bespoke server has made the experience of building and running a simple non-interactive website so much more freeing as a developer!