Building the New

Launching Contrary's new site.

Contrary HQ

April 9, 2024

Contrary’s identity has always been about finding and supporting exceptional people one notch before the rest of the world recognizes how special they are. This is our north star as a firm. 

We recently redesigned our website with that people-focused DNA in mind, and the new site has been built to showcase our commitment to supporting founders from seed to scale. 

It was also built with the latest technology to help enable and amplify our premiere publications, Contrary Research and Foundations & Frontiers, and as a reflection of the engineering-enabled and tech-forward culture that sets us apart from other firms.

As we sat down to redesign our website, we wanted the new website to be highly performant on both mobile and web while also making it easy to make future improvements and add new features. Because of the fast pace at which we publish new essays and company reports, we also wanted to make it easy to publish content without needing to push new code to production.

Our tech stack to accomplish these goals was as follows. Prior to building our new website, we were using Next.js for our internal applications as well as public content-driven sites such as Contrary Research but had not yet adopted Next.js’ App Router. Building the new website was a great opportunity to try out one of the newest features announced in React: React Server Components

Next.js launched the App Router in v13.4 in May 2023, which was built on React Server components. This was a major architectural shift from its previous “Pages” router. The timing allowed us to become an early adopter for our planned redesign. React Server Components change the architecture of React and are rendered exclusively on the server. Some of their benefits include smaller bundle sizes, reducing the amount of Javascript sent to the client, and the ability to run server-side code such as external API requests or database queries directly inside the components, among others.

Next.js statically generates and caches Foundations & Frontiers essays and other Contrary blog posts from Prismic, our CMS. This made it so that we would only have to make requests to Prismic once, when the website was built, and users would receive the cached response.

Next.js also supports Incremental Static Regeneration, which, combined with a webhook from Prismic, automatically rebuilds and updates the website whenever an article is edited or a new post is published in our CMS. This added further to our goal of building a website that could facilitate our pace of content publication.

The cumulative effect of implementing these new features with our redesign was that, overall, the new website became a lot more performant, especially for mobile users. Even our largest Foundations & Frontiers essays, including our 6K+ word Mars Colonization essay, now load nearly instantaneously thanks to Next.js’s App Router’s caching.

Meanwhile, React Server Components are still being iterated on and improved, and, currently Next.js is the only major framework that supports them. It’s an exciting time for the web, and it will be interesting to see how things develop in the near future as React Server Components gain wider adoption. Contrary’s engineering team is staying at the forefront of this tech and will be looking to incorporate RSCs into the rest of our codebase.

In general, it is uncommon for venture firms — especially ones at Contrary’s size — to have an entirely in-house design and engineering team. Projects like a brand refresh or website redesign are usually delegated to external agencies. This inevitably means surrendering some ownership and that once the redesign is shipped it cannot continue to be iterated upon.

But at Contrary, one-third of our full-time employees belong to what we refer to internally as the “EPD” (Engineering, Product, Design, and Data) team. Not only does this enable our team to experiment and adapt to Contrary’s needs quickly, but it is also a reflection of our commitment to building one of the most technologically driven venture funds in the world. 

With that, we’re proud to unveil the new look of our website at Please take a look around and let us know what you think by reaching out to us on Twitter @contrary.

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