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well-made - now more well-made than ever

September 9, 2021

I just published the biggest change on well-made yet.

The biggest change is that I'm no longer using Perch, the tiny CMS I was using before to manage my content, blog posts, etc.

I did this because I care about user experience (including for developers). Perch is really simple to use and integrate into a website, but it gets quite chaotic when there are a lot of content types. I wanted to find something that was a little easier and more visual. For this, I used Webflow.

Webflow & Udesly

I've used Webflow before when precision design was required. Webflow is the best visual front-end development tool I've ever used, and it really aids in creating best-practice sites. Sadly, in order to use the Webflow CMS features, you need an expensive site plan, and you can't self-host and make edits to the filesystem, which is pretty limiting.

I recently ran into Udesly (you can see attribution in the corner of the site - removal requires a paid plan, which I'll do if I continue to use this workflow). This is a tool that exports the CMS collections and attributes from Webflow and exports them in several ways: to WordPress, to Shopify, to Ghost, or to Netlify (using Jamstack).

Udesly is a slightly buggy little thing, and needs a bit of working around. I tried all of the different export options, and I'll continue to experiment with Ghost and WordPress. However, my preference is Netlify/Jamstack, because of its excellent security and performance features.

Netlify

You're now being served well-made.uk from a global content delivery network. That means it's served from a datacentre close to you (previously I used a datacentre in London). In addition, all the content is pre-rendered, minified, deferred, and sprinkled with glitter.

Using services like Netlify improves the security and performance of a website. It means that I can add images and font files without worrying about its effect on performance (I even have a plugin installed which subsets and compresses font files before deploying the files).

One of the coolest parts of the process is that Udesly converts all of my CMS content from Webflow into Netlify CMS content - and there were absolutely no compatibility issues whatsoever. That means I can continue blogging on Netlify, designing on Webflow, and Github (the mediator in the relationship) helps to ensure that only design updates move over; the blog posts remain unaffected by new deploys.

A better worflow - and a disclaimer

This is all a lot nicer and faster than using Perch. It makes designing and building quicker and more enjoyable. That's why I've added a new Projects feature, redesigned the homepage, and massively improved the SEO.

There's just one thing: as I mentioned, Udesly has some quirks. At the time of launch, there are a couple of things amiss. Some of the styling has been changed in the process. The colours are slightly off in a couple of places, and there's a JavaScript error that seems to be caused by Udesly's use of Netlify's Identity feature (authentication smarts that keep access to the site safe).

This is very much a work in process, but I can now swiftly (and visually) make upgrades when needed. I have plans for many additions and changes going forward, and I'm hoping to use Netlify's relationship with Github to polish off my development/staging/production workflow.