All About Berlin

Moving to Germany is an ordeal. After dealing with the worst of German bureaucracy, I helped other expats do the same. I was active in a few expat Facebook groups, until I got tired of answering the same questions every day. Instead, I put those answers on a website, and linked to that.

Over time, All About Berlin grew to over 150 000 page views per month, making it my most popular project by far. When I mention it to strangers, they often know about it. It's immensely flattering.

Here are some of the most popular guides:

They don't make 'em like that anymore

I built this website the way I want all websites to be built. It's free, it's useful and it's straightforward. It's my answer to the hastily written SEO spam that makes up the bulk of Google search results. I wanted to prove that you could build and monetise a website without annoying the everliving crap out of your readers.

It has no ads, no paywalls, no newsletter popup, no calls to action, no comments, no promoted content, and no share buttons. It gives you the answers you came for, in plain English. That's it.

Delivered in 500 milliseconds or less

All About Berlin is ludicrously fast, and that's no accident. I spent quite a bit of time shaving milliseconds off the page load time.

I use FastCGI static caching to reduce the time to first byte to around 20 milliseconds. I use HTTP2 server push to serve all the assets in a single request. I serve fonts locally to avoid additional DNS requests. I use lazyloaded, responsive images to send as few bytes as possible across the wire.

All this optimisation keeps the server bill really low: only 5€ per month.

Built with Craft

All About Berlin is a Craft CMS website that runs inside docker on a Digital Ocean VPS. The theme is 100% custom-made. I much prefer Craft to Wordpress. It has a much more flexible data structure.