New Site, New CMS

So, I redesigned my site. A fresh lick of paint is always good. Somewhere along the line, I somehow ended up thinking: while I’m at it, why not throw in a new domain name, and a new CMS as well? Everyone likes a challenge!

The Redesign

My site’s updated design isn’t anything drastic. It’s brighter, has better use of negative space, updated fonts, and an overall, but fairly minimal visual update. It relies on the same principles it did before, but I’ve refined them a bit. There’s a definite Material Design influence going on as well, particularly on the blog. But for me, that’s a good thing.

Naturally, I’ve thrown in my own javascript plugins where applicable. The site uses my browser and feature detection script, my touch script (primarily for the swipe behaviour for the mobile navigation), and my custom carousel script (used in the portfolio listing when there are multiple listing images for that entry).

I’ve already mentioned that the design was fairly heavily influenced by Google’s Material Design spec. The site’s overall outlay, particularly the homepage, was also influenced by the Wired Canvas site (a design studio I applied to a couple of years ago).

Of course, like before, the site is also responsive, and cross-browser compatible back to IE7.

The CMS

Previously, my lpslater site was built on WordPress. As good as WordPress is, it’s a bit bloated now. Once you’ve installed a few plugins and you find that you’ve got 3 versions of jQuery loading on the page, you realise that things can certainly be done better. The thing about WordPress is, it’s very well established. You’re not going to get WordPress to budge, so you have to adjust your site to match its requirements (well, maybe not everyone does, but my development experience with WordPress is fairly limited). I didn’t like that approach.

In my work life at Codehouse, I do Front End development for a large Sitecore sites. The backend developers construct everything in the CMS to the client’s requirements, so it means there’s a lot of flexibility for the front end of the site as well. I wanted that… but in a CMS that didn’t require me to delve into ASP or pay thousands of pounds for a license. The answer, Statamic.

Statamic is a great little CMS. Creating your site essentially boils down to this:

  1. Create basic hardcoded HTML files as a template
  2. Put together some fieldsets in the CMS which will expose some template tags.
  3. Throw these tags into your HTML files where you need them.

It has a nice, responsive admin panel, and it’s based on flat files, so has no database. This means that you can include your content in your version control easily.

No database obviously has its disadvantages too. Two notable ones that may affect your typical WordPress user: there’s no search built in (though they do have a paid for search add on that you can use - or you could use a Custom Search Engine with Google), and page commenting isn’t built into the CMS (so you’d have to use a separate comment provider, such as Disqus). My website isn’t very big or complex, so a search isn’t really needed. And after having my site based on WordPress, all the WordPress spam bots put me off adding commenting to my blog posts anyway!

A flat-file CMS isn’t for everyone, but neither is WordPress. Fortunately, Statamic was just what I was looking for!


Posted: November 26th, 2014
Categories: web