Ep 86 – May 5 – How to manage a website

Martin Uncut
Martin Uncut
Ep 86 - May 5 - How to manage a website

Are you running a website? I am, a few actually. I’m predominantly on WordPress and today I will talk a bit about how I got there and why I choose to use that!

I have been using different type of Content Management Systems, CMS, for many years. I think I used my first on back in 2002-2004. It was a fantastic piece of software. Well developed, super stable and the support was fabulous. I don’t think it had a specific name… Well I wrote it myself. But back then there was probably early version of CMS systems out there, but I hadn’t seen or worked with any.

My system was very simple. It had a frontend, the website that the visitors used, it also had a backend where I could login and create and update pages. It was pretty simple. A database with mainly one table and fields for a webpage title and the body of the page. I entered plain HTML inside the database. The template I used was simple and just took the data and printed it to the predefined places on the page. The whole thing was written before php3 was released. A while back. It would have been so fun to still have that application – to look at my first real web app. But it’s gone.

I tried a bunch of different tools. Magento and Jomla was among these. I didn’t really have any content to publish. It was more about setting up the systems and learn more about how they worked. There was probably more of them around this time that I worked with – but these two are the ones I remember clearly.

Then I found Typo3. This is a CMS system that was developed in Denmark by Kasper Skårhöj. It was a super complex system. You could do a lot of things that where not possible in the other systems. There was also an extension repository – which was quite filled with additions that you can easily install. You only needed to style them and of you go.

This was a system that I was involved and helped many companies. I was working as a developer, project manager and team lead for a small web agency for a few years. We used this tool to help our customers get a tool they could use to get a nice and dynamic website — with enterprise features. I have not kept up with the capabilities of Typo3 the last couple of years – it is probably still a great tool and if you are about to build a website – this could be a tool that is interesting to look at.

During the last few years I have leant onto WordPress for all my projects. The main reason for this is that there are many templates available that you can buy quite cheaply. The extension repositories are also huge and you can easily find something that will fix the need you have. There is also a huge developer community that continue to develop the plattform and fix issues as they show up.

Since WordPress is one of the most common platforms out there it will also be a big target for hackers. That means it is important to keep up with updates, for WordPress it self, the themes being used but also extensions.

I prefer to use an open platform since it gives you the opportunity to move around. You are not locked in with a specific supplier. You can even host it on your own server. No limits to it at all.

But to summarize. For me it is important that a plattform is modern and being updated. Open so that you can easily get your data out and in to it. Gives you a wide range of choice of hosting providers.

If I where to choose something else today. I would look into Ghost. This is a pretty new platform. It is built in nodejs and thus pretty fast. I have not used it myself but the blogging experience should be better compared to WordPress. It should also be easier to get SEO results and good support with social.

Another tool that could be very interesting is Hugo. Hugo is a small tool that generates a webpage for you in static HTML. You build up a filesystem structure, something that you can keep in source control. Git as an example. You then use Hugo to produce the static html-files. This would also provide a super fast site and it would probably be more secure too since there is no code or logic running on the site. And as a big extra plus – the content in the pages are not built in HTML, they are built with guess what; Markdown. You could quite easily develop a devops flow that would look for changes to a git branch, generate the site and push the content to the server.

The reason I am not using any of these is mainly that I don’t want to spend to much time and effort creating a theme. I can do it – but it is just not my passion. The second is that I run the podcast and that requires me to generate an RSS-feed. And the plugins for WordPress here is pretty good. Hugo could probably do it well too – but it would require a bit of work to get it to where I want.

If you want to start a website and don’t want to dig deep into the tech – take a look at Ghost or WordPress. That will take you a long ways!