Posted March 23, 2016
Almost four years ago, we designed and built a new website for The Granada (Granada). The website was built in WordPress and included a custom theme. A few months ago, the Granada was interested in making some updates to their website. Before making any updates, we converted the website from WordPress to our latest development systems which include Laravel, UIkit and LaraManager. This posts talks a little about the conversion.
We recently wrote a post about Philsquare’s newest development decision to start using Laravel. In that post, we mentioned the fact that not too many of our clients would ever use features of website builders such as WordPress. This is one example of that situation. The main focus for the Granada was to update the events list, posts, bands and pages. They were not planning on spending hours researching, installing and setting up plugins. So basically, they were strictly using the WordPress platform as a content manager. Since they didn’t need it and we don’t work with that platform anymore, it was time to rebuild it and bring it up to Philsquare’s current set of technologies.
We made three main updates to the website. First, we updated the core framework behind the website from WordPress to Laravel. Next we swapped out the HTML, CSS and JS core framework layers with UIkit. Finally, we installed our own LaraManager so they had the ability to update all their content. Let’s look at these in a bit more detail.
Most websites are powered by some sort of framework. These frameworks can handle things such as database interactions, sending emails, facilitating 3rd party extensions and view rendering (themes), caching and form validation. Currently, Laravel is our framework of choice. It is a modern PHP framework that allows us to build solid web apps and websites swiftly. Since it is just a framework, we have the freedom to build the exact amount of technical features necessary to create the project. This is different from WordPress since it provides a large amount of code and systems not needed for every project.
This is really not related to WordPress but worth noting for this update. A website “theme” is just a set of files using HTML & CSS to style pages of a website. These sets of files with markup code can leverage a CSS framework to make it easier to build and style common web components such as forms, layouts, text and navigations.
The great thing about these frameworks is they can help with cross-browser issues and mobile views. They are easily “skinned” or “themed” to match the desired look and feel or project branding requirements.
For this project we updated our four year old CSS framework with the newest version of UIkit. We also had to convert all of the files inside the WordPress theme into “views” that Laravel could use to render the web pages. Laravel does not have “themes”. Instead, it builds a web pages by compiling the HTML “views” needed at the time of request. This method leads to better HTML organization and less repeated code.
So the final part of the conversion is to make sure our client, The Granada, still has a method for updating their content. We removed WordPress, so now what? Well, Philsquare has a powerful system to serve one purpose and that is allow clients to manager their website. It is a system that interfaces with the website’s database. Currently is has a working title of LaraManager but the main thing to know is that we install it and customize it based on each project’s content type and complexity.
Now that the website is converted, we have much more development and design flexibility. Also, the Granada website is using modern and up to date technologies. In fact, the Laravel version used for this conversion has Long Time Support (LTS) which includes bug fixes for two years and security fixes for three years.
If you are interested in learning more about this conversion or maybe converting your existing website, please give us a shout.