Some "under-the-covers" details behind our new website

Some "under-the-covers" details behind our new website

Frank Febbraro, Chief Technology Officer
#Phase2 | Posted

This is my first blog post in quite some time. I'm sure that no one missed me, but I missed me. You see, at some point last year I gave up on our old website. It started out with many good intentions and served us well, but it had become quite a lot like the Winchester Mystery House, lacking a master plan and using it felt that way. It was a classic case of the cobblers children have no shoes. So, with that said, I quietly boycotted our site, waiting for the new one to arrive, and here it is.

As we launch our new website and new Phase2 brand on the one year anniversary (roughly) of the Treehouse merger, you'll notice a lot that's new. A new logo, new design, new colors, and a more people-centric approach to our communications. What you might not see at first glance, however, is that our site is not built on Drupal as most people would expect. We used...*gasp*...Wordpress. Our decision to use Wordpress is not some grand statement nor is it central to our rebrand, but all the same, we think it tells an interesting story, so we wanted to give you some insight into why we chose it here.

First, let's get one thing out of the way: no, we're not leaving Drupal. We are as committed to the Drupal community and using Drupal as a first-in-class platform as we ever have been. The majority of our clients have partnered with us specifically to build awesome Drupal platforms and sites, and we are as excited as ever by our work with them. We are also heavily invested in the new Open Atrium 2.0 (built on Drupal 7), and in community events like DrupalCon Portland, where 10 of our team members will be speaking, CapitalCamp, where we'll be the Diamond sponsor, and DrupalCamp Dallas, where our CEO Jeff Walpole will be keynoting.

So why did we choose it then? The real answer is that we always strive to choose the right tool for the job, every time, and this site is no different. It was time to dog-food our process on our own website.

Our team considered many different technologies for our new site: Drupal, Wordpress, Ruby/Rails, Jekyll, and many others. The goal at the beginning of this project was to not just assume we would use Drupal just because it is a website. Some of the goals that were defined for this site were (in order of priority):

  1. Ease of use for our *non-technical* content administrators.
  2. Quick implementation of brochure-site features, such as simple media handling, easy wysiwig, etc.
  3. Provide an opportunity for our team to step out of their usual comfort zone, gain more experience doing technical evaluations, learn something new, and appreciate the strengths of other technology solutions.

Another differentiator here to why we chose Wordpress over Drupal is that our corporate website is nothing like the Drupal platforms we build for clients, so we need not use the same tools that we would use for those sites. Our typical builds these days are not corporate websites that have some case studies, a people browser and a blog. We build platforms and enterprise content management systems with deep integrations to other systems. Our website is not one of those. We do, however, now have a much clearer understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of using Wordpress and this will benefit our clients tremendously over the coming years.

Yes, both Drupal and Wordpress were capable of creating the site we needed here, but ultimately, we chose Wordpress because we felt like it helped us achieve the goals mentioned above in the shortest timeframe and we got to exercise our learnin' muscles.

The straight truth is that while folks might consider us only a "Drupal shop", we are also a "DevOps shop", a "Content Strategy shop", a "Systems Architecture shop", a "Design shop" get the picture. We don't really identify ourselves as any specific "shop".  We are consultants and technologists that know how to solve problems and what technology enables those solutions best -- this was the right tool for the job, it taught our teams something new, and it helped us get our goals accomplished quickly and on budget.

All that said, we hope you like our new site, we sure think it's purty.

Frank Febbraro

Frank Febbraro

Chief Technology Officer