Why I'm not using Headway for the new HeadwayRocket site
With the launch of the new HeadwayRocket site just around the corner, I figured now would be a good time to go over why the new site is not built using Headway.
First and foremost, let me start by saying Headway is an awesome tool. I’ve tried a lot of visual site builders over the years and Headway is definitely the easiest of the lot. Being that the previous version of the site was built with Headway and the main purpose of the site is to promote and sell our Headway products, I figured the question was bound to come up.
Hammer, screwdriver, pliers
As the age old saying goes “choose the right tool for the job” and in my case, being a front-end developer, I have no need for a visual site builder. That’s not to say that Headway is not useful for developers, it just comes down to preference. For me, I prefer working directly in code. Even the previous version of HeadwayRocket was built mostly via the Headway child-theme, rather than using the Visual Editor. We’re all wired differently and I get a real kick out of hand-writing clean semantic code. It’s why I chose “Devigner for Hire” for my personal portfolio brand - I’m equal parts designer and coder.
The new stack
So now on to the fun part of this post - sharing the details of the new tools I’m using. From this point on things are going to sway on the slightly technical side. I’ll be going over the tools I’m using to build out the new static site.
I first discovered Hammer a few years back and instantly fell in love with the app. Without getting too technical, it’s a mac app that gives you a bunch of tools to help with building static sites. I won’t go into all the details of what it does, as their site does a pretty good job of it already (if you’re interested in learning more). The gist is that it gives me everything I need to create highly efficient static sites, along with all the modern tools all the cool kids are yapping about.
While Hammer improves the process of local development, I still wanted an efficient way of managing the sites content. Just because I can do everything “in-the-code”, doesn’t mean I necessarily want to.
Enter Cockpit, a headless CMS that does one thing really well - provide you with a dashboard to create and manage your content, really efficiently. Then, using the built in API, you can easily extract that content and publish your content anywhere.
In my case, I’m using the shiny new integration that Steve and co have built into Hammer (at my request, I’m proud to say!), so I’m able to create my various content types (or collections as they are called in Cockpit) and have them pulled in by Hammer, automatically creating a static page for each of your content items in your Hammer build. Update the content in Cockpit, refresh Hammer and the sites content is automatically updated. Priceless.
On a side note, Cockpit has to be the easiest CMS to install. You literally extract the zip to your local server, access it in your browser using the local development url, appended with /install. That’s it.
3.) Digital Ocean
I’d hoped to host the new site on Forge (a static hosting service by the same peeps behind Hammer), but they don’t have any way of handling 301 redirects yet, so for the time being I’m hosting the site on my DigitalOcean droplet. It’s still pretty fast and I’m able to use htaccess to redirect the old urls and strip off the .html extensions.
4.) Server Pilot
I’ve long wanted to use DigitalOcean but was always put off by the fact that it’s unmanaged and largely up to me to setup everything. I know my way around a server from my Oracle days, but it’s far from my speciality. Thanks to ServerPilot though, they connect to your DigitalOcean droplet and automatically setup your server, optimized for WordPress. It’s definitely not the most optimized stack possible, but it gets you dang far with very little effort. Imagine cPanel, without all the clutter. As an added bonus, ServerPilots has a free tier for one person (solopreneur ftw!!!) with unlimited servers and apps. Not to shabby if you ask me.
Last but not least, I’m using the free tier on Cloudflare to add some extra performance enhancements, firewall, stats and SSL. While the SSL certificate is not necessarily needed (since Paddle transmits over SSL), I opted for fully encrypting the site after reading this article.
See the new stack in action
Be warned, I’m at the tail-end of 13 hour-straight session and my brain feels like putty ;)