Industry Analyst & Strategist

How I Build This in 2023

As I build up the content workflows of the past, I thought today would be a day to go over the tools that are powering RobertJacobi 2023. A very clean rebuild of a site with over 500 posts that honestly went as smoothly and as quickly as one imagine.

BigScoots: Personal. Expert. Always There. That’s Real Managed Hosting.

WordPress Solves Problems

Way back when I first created the site, I leaned on Joomla since that was where my experience resided. And as much as I will always be a huge fan of the platform (I liked it so much that I was the President of Joomla at one point), Joomla was a bit of overkill for what I defined as needs for this site. Using WordPress I was able to get going instantly and leave a lot of wiggle room for experimentation – it’s really powerful but buries complexity until you need it – and listen I’ve been a software engineer and love tinkering but my needs were not about coding.

WordPress Hosting Choices

Having been knee deep in development, I quickly chose Pantheon as my initial WordPress host. I have to say that the Pantheon development workflow is awesome and rigorous – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them for hosting projects that fit this mold. And here comes the but, but it was overkill for a single person blog. Honestly just didn’t need that rigor since accidents on my end had minimal (zero) consequences. I’m writing not developing.

Where to next? I ran into the team at Convesio early in their corporate life, like really really early. They had just launched a beta of their WordPress hosting solution. Now this was nice! Really fast, really simple, and some cool tech for handling performance and scaling. I would guess that this was the first (or one of the first) pro-sumer (enterprise focused for small business) hosts in the space. To this day I have accounts at Convesio, just not this site.

Why move from Convesio? Experimentation. I wanted to try a host that I had heard great things about, From a performance perspective it’s not fair comparing apples to oranges. I’ve done a bunch of other under-the-hood work but I think I may do a compare at some point. The packages are very similar with some differences that at the moment are not relevant to me but one has struck me as very convenient, WordPress Plugins and Themes are in the Rocket site dashboard. This was really useful for migration. I’m guessing this is even more relevant for agencies with multiple site.

WordPress Theme and Plugins Overhaul

With the site on Rocket’s staging, it was time to clean up all the silliness that had been accumulated with testing and just gooding around. First order of business to purge:

  • Plugins went from 33 Installed (22 Active) to 12 Installed (11 Active) and this will get even more optimized since still evaluating the usefulness of a couple
  • Themes went from 4 to 1 (duh! everyone should be at 1 to avoid security issues)

Second, anything new we need? Well I wanted to be pure Gutenberg but again had be hearing great things about a new page builder. I still may strip down one day but after evaluating Breakdance, I became a convert for this version of the site. It’s fast. Works. Make sense. Love it. It’s made creating the site hugely fun. This was a real winner for me and glad I went with it right away. Time to rebuild was so fast with close to zero learning curve.

3rd Party Subscription Services

Yes everything I’m going to mention can be done with either extra time or in WordPress or both, but there is a lot to be said about utilizing a SaaS that solves a specific problem well. There are key services I added to the mix to replace ones I had utilized before.

First, analytics. I was really tired of the Google Analytics world. I didn’t need or even want a ton of the stuff provided. I didn’t want to have a cookie popup. I just needed the basics with some useful reporting, as I wrote in Track Everything, Not Everyone, Plausible is the right solution at the right time for me.

Second, the newsletter. This was (is) the biggest change and still requires work on my end to get right. I switched to ConvertKit. I wanted to have built-in options for features that might arise in the future, as well as good old fashioned newsletter builder, list management, etc. I’ve been happy so far, and am hoping that Newsletter Glue + ConvertKit integration comes soon. Would love to see that in action!

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