14 years ago, I had simple ambitions to make a website for amateur writing. Then life got in the way until it didn’t, and Koal was reborn. Why I’m making Koal is intensely personal: reading is a big part of my life and a lot of what I’ve read—and some of the best bits—have been from amateur authors who are either nameless or forgotten.
Every year I notice sites that host these stories either disappearing, turning uglier, harder to access, or hiding these gems behind a paywall. It’s important to me that this trend be reversed, that there exists a free site, unencumbered with ads, where these authors can be read in peace. A place that is distraction-free, and hopefully even beautiful.
This is entirely a one-person effort, and this is a log of my work to date:
- I’ve been using Product Hunt Makers as a build log, and it’s been working great. Getting high-fives and comments from other makers is great!
- After I got the basic scaffold working, I decided to write importers for the most common story sites. Right now I have SOL & Fel converters working. Next importer to be built is a Fanfiction/Fictionpress importer.
- Once I got the site live by using a bare basic design layout, I decided to spend some time improving the UI design of the site. It’s taking quite a bit of time to relearn some UI design fundamentals, get up to basic with modern CSS & Tailwind, and then get familiar with Sketch so that I can translate what I see inside my head to a page.
This is where I’ve reached as of now: having sketch design files that need to be converted to HTML.
First up, the home page:
Now, the story page:
This is much simpler, and I’d like to do more work to make the typography shine here.
I’m reasonably happy with what I have now. So immediate next steps:
- Convert this to HTML.
- Play around with the Pexel API to get great live covers.
- Get this design live!
& after that:
- Write an importer for Ficsave’s Fanfiction/Fictionpress EPUB export, and import some more great stories into Koal.
- And write an EPUB export tool to get clean EPUB versions of all these stories.