Welcome to the Adelie: Case Study! This is an honest, inside look at our very own website - AdelieWeb.com. We'll discuss our goals, ambitions, and challenges. We'll also discuss our tech stack.
We cared most about: branding, functionality, versatility, and technically equipped to scale up. Most obviously: we wanted to craft an impression that would stick with our visitors. Also, the website needed to be easily navigable on all screen sizes so that we could make our website a pleasant experience for all users. Most web solutions, even basic templated solutions like SquareSpace, can meet these standards. However, we also needed versatility and scaleability. We're currently in the process of developing a sleek, educational platform so that our clients have the resources they need to hit the ground running once their website is created - no web builder is going to permit this kind of complexity! We needed something inherently custom, secure, and scaleable.
So, all conventional options were out. SquareSpace, Wix, and Shopify were all out. WordPress, we realized, could be tweaked to have the functionality we needed; however, it would be a stretch. WordPress is excellent at managing content and is becoming more robust at managing greater amounts of complexity, but at its core, WordPress was never intended to be a full-blown web application framework. The last thing we wanted was to resort to hacky or unvetted third-party solutions. Ruby on Rails was our next choice, but Laravel caught our eye. We had been exploring Laravel behind-the-scenes for some time, and this seemed like an opportune moment to dive in and explore the ecosystem. It seemed like a fantastic for both serving static pages and gracefully handling greater amounts of complexity at the web application level. Coupled with its sister service, Laravel Forge, it couldn't be beat. For front-end design, we opted for Zurb's Foundation framework as the base. Coupled with premier fonts from Adobe's TypeKit, a few legally-sourced stock photos, and icons from Font Awesome, we were ready to go. After wireframing, drafting, revising, and snapping a few awkward portrait photos, we were ready to go. Add in the excellent "drop-in" animation library AnimateCSS, and bam! Magic.
Implementation was a grind. Writing bios, editing photos. Everything from configuring Foundation's SASS variables to writing a gulpfile (that actually works as expected), from choosing a deployment host for Forge (DigitalOcean!) to constantly tweaking our designs in Sketch, we were busy for a good two weeks of rigorous, all-day coding & designing. But lo and behold, AdelieWeb.com was born! With fully responsive layouts and custom-designed images and assets, AdelieWeb.com was truly built from scratch. Lastly, we set up emails at the excellent ZohoMail service, utilized the MailGun API for our forms, sprinkled fairy dust on our keyboards and git push'd the glorious code to Github, which queued the "Quick Deploy" option for Forge. A bit ironically, the "case study" section of the site - that you're reading now - was built much later! As our future project (Adelie Glacier) approaches, we'll be certain that the architectural foundation we set in place will hold steady. Stay tuned for more information!