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Evolving our Web Development Toolset

7 January 2019
A laptop showing graphs | Evolving our Web Development Toolset | Neon

Technology is always changing, and that means the way you use it has to change too.

This is particularly true when it comes to your website. Look back over the years and you’ll find the way sites were built just a few short years ago looks antiquated compared to how it’s done now.

Go back even further, and you’ll see how positively ancient everything looks – as this promotional site for the 1997 movie ‘Space Jam’ perfectly proves.

And how Google has evolved its design over 20 years to keep up with the design and usability expectations of its users.

A GIF showing Google's history and progression | Evolving our Web Development Toolset | Neon

We here at Neon are always keeping one eye on what’s coming next, and we endeavour to ensure that we build sites that are future-proof and ready for the next wave of exciting tech innovations.

That’s why we’re evolving the way we’re approaching website builds, bringing in new technologies and methodologies which help keep our clients ahead of the curve.

Looking outside of WordPress?

WordPress has been an industry-standard content management system (CMS) for a number of years now. With 27% of the Internet and 20% of self-hosted website reportedly powered by WordPress, it is by far the most dominant CMS on the market. There’s a good reason for that too. It’s easy to use and most people have some level of experience of it – either through their professional life or by setting up a personal blog.

We love WordPress, and most of our clients’ websites are built on it. But we wouldn’t be doing our jobs properly, and living up to our ethos of being a future-focussed agency if we didn’t look at the alternatives.

WordPress, like any technology, has its downfalls. It was built purely as a blogging platform. It was never really intended to be an all-encompassing CMS that major brands would build whole sites around. Good developers and designers know how to work within the constraints of the platform, but could there be something better out there?

If not WordPress then what?

We still use WordPress, and will continue to build with it for our existing clients. Our plan moving forward is to continue using it, but only as a Headless CMS. Leaving us free to use alternative technologies for the website front end.

We use React JS for the code and build the JavaScript components ourselves. React is a JavaScript library that’s maintained by Facebook and after the initial learning curve, can be quicker to build with than PHP, making for a speedier, more cost effective development process.

Best of all, it allows for the creation of reusable components. This means, for example, part of a website could be built and then reused within another part of the site, avoiding duplication. This again results in greater speed and cost efficiencies.

As well as React, we’re using the popular Laravel-based Statamic CMS. Statamic is similar to WordPress, but it’s much faster and allows for more variety in page template options.

What’s more, Statamic has a variety of plugins which are verified for use on its platform. As such you can be confident of their security and compatibility with the latest version, something that can be a challenge with WordPress.

It’s also much more secure. Hackers are unable to perform injection attacks as the database doesn’t exist. Statamic stores content and configurations in files ensuring one less point to be compromised.

Overall, our new approach will help keep our customers ahead of the curve. With faster, more secure, and more extensible set ups which will meet the needs of the visitor both now and in the future.

And our component based approach will bring a speed and flexibility to our builds which will make our projects both efficient and scalable.

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