Yesterday, I thought I figured out what I needed to do in order to get assets working on heroku. Today, I modified the CSS in app/assets/css and pushed it out to heroku without running bundle exec rake assets:precompile. It worked anyway. I saw from the output

-----> Preparing app for Rails asset pipeline
       Running: rake assets:precompile
       Asset precompilation completed (25.81s)

The difference was that in this push, I deleted all the files in public/assets and committed those deletes. I suspect that Rails sees that the directory is empty and runs the rake assets:precompile. This is good news. This means I don’t need to precompile and check in those compiled assets. That’s less files to keep track of and one step less in the deploy process.

The site is starting to look prettier. Still a lot more work to do before it starts looking like something people would want to visit.