Introducing October: A new way of doing things

Posted on May 10, 2017

Welcome to our new website. Fast isn’t it? It loads in less than a second. That's a fraction of the time our old site took to load. Want to know why?

We have rebuilt our site in the October content management system (CMS). It’s a new open source CMS based upon the Laravel php framework. We have been working with Laravel for 2 years now but this is the first time we have anything that we can take credit for publicly.

Up until now we have been using Laravel exclusively as the framework to build web applications upon. It is our go to solution for websites that need a high level of custom functions. However its principal drawback is that building in Laravel has been like hand making an F1 sportscar. Every part of the car must be made for purpose, it takes higher skill and more time and that means extra cost. So it’s only really been a viable option for our largest clients.

WordPress is still our go to solution for cost effective websites. There is good reason why it’s still the undisputed, uncrowned king of CMSs. However, we identified a need to bring in a product which bridges that price gap and will bring the speed and stability of Laravel to the simpler websites we build.

For that reason we spent a long time looking for a new flagship CMS. There have been quite a few released in the past five years and we spent a lot of time researching and experimenting with every CMS we could find. We have the following criteria:

  • It had to be a young CMS. A drawback with WordPress was that in the 14 years it's been running the internet and browsers have changed a lot. 238 versions of WordPress have been released. That’s a long legacy that needs to be supported and that means that the code is more complex than it needs to be.
  • It had to be old enough to know that it’s stable. All new software has a teething phase and first adopters generally get a bumpy ride. October is 3 years old: old enough now to know that it’s proven itself in battle and still standing.
  • It had to have a thriving and growing developer community around it that we could become a part of and which we could go to if we needed help.
  • It had to be built for developers rather than amateurs. The biggest trade we have to make in web development is usability vs robustness. Interfaces that make sites easy to build and edit without using any code are themselves writing the code for you. However they both restrict the options and output much more code than needed. That’s a lot of extra complexity and complexity is the enemy of stability.
  • It had to be insanely fast even without a server cache. Most websites are slow because there is a lot of unnecessary functions being run that send a lot of unnecessary requests to the server. These functions are there partly because of the legacy issue mentioned above and partly because the extra complexity mentioned above.
  • It had to be secure. Most hack attempts are automated. The reason WordPress gets so much flak is that is by far the most popular CMS in the world. One estimate says 74.6 million websites run on it and the BuiltWith website analysis tool claims that 24.6% of the top 10,000 websites in the world are built on it. We wanted the new CMS to be more niche and thus out of way of the hoards of automated hack bots that pillage their way across the web.

After months of experimentation we settled on October as the best in class CMS. It helped that it was based upon Laravel.

How much faster is it:

Objectively measuring website speed is not as easy as opening it in your browser and timing it. We use two tools to measure speed. They are tools.pingdom.com and gtmetrix.com. They both make multiple requests and then take the average score. The important numbers are the load time, the page size and the number of requests.

Here is how our new and old site compare:

Our previous WordPress based site:

Our new October based site:

It's quite a difference.  

So what’s all this mean?

There are two principal advantages to competitively fast loading sites. The first is that it gives a great user experience. The second is that Google loves it. It's one of the few factors that Google openly admits effects SEO rankings. And whilst it is only one in hundreds of factors having a site that loads in 1/4 the time of your competition is a big boost.

From now on we will be offering October based websites as an affordable option for all our clients. We will be charging more for them than we are currently charging for WordPress builds but they will not be priced as highly as our custom Laravel builds.

If you are interested why not click the contact us button below?

Kind Regards

Richard Hindle

Managing Director