- Fast, one page website.
- Downloads photos and text from client’s Instagram account for easy updating of promotions.
- Fully responsive.
- ‘Slideshow’ of customer testimonials.
Keeping it simple
I’ve usually built websites using a content management system (CMS) as my starting point but lately I’ve been rethinking this approach.
A CMS allows clients to easily manage their own websites and it makes more complex websites easier to build.
However, for a simple website, a CMS can take more work than it saves. There are always clients (most of them) who do not want or need to maintain their own websites, no matter how easy it is.
The Rural Threads website is a very simple single page. It rarely needs updating but my client and I thought it would be useful if he could add topical stock and sales information. It didn’t seem worth using a CMS just for this and, given his relationship to technology, he wasn’t going to be happy using one anyway. Step forward Instagram.
Content loaded from Instagram
Thanks to changes by Instagram this feature no longer works but it was good while it lasted. I’ve kept the original explanation below. A warning of the dangers of using 3rd party, free, services.
It’s possible to load photos and text from Instagram on to a web page. And Instagram is very easy to use (easier than adding photos with a CMS, particularly if you’re using your phone camera).1 Almost as a bonus, photos added to Instagram can be added, ‘automatically’ to Twitter and Facebook at the same time. And, of course, Instagram itself can be another marketing channel. So, rather than build the site on a CMS to provide this 1 feature, I asked my client to set up an Instagram account.
To add a photo (and caption2) to the website, all my client has to do is add it to his Instagram account. It couldn’t be any easier.
The ‘Latest Threads’ photos (and captions) on the website are the 3 most recent photos added to Rural Threads’s Instagram account.
…and very efficiently
The obvious, almost default, way of adding photos from Instagram is to load them from Instagram every time someone visits the website. This could slow the site down. Instead, I’ve written code, separate from the website, that downloads the photos from Instagram to the website once per day. The website ‘thinks’ these are the usual website images so they are quick to load.
I’ve usually added an interactive Google Map to websites,3 showing the location of the business. I’ve had second thoughts about this too. I’ve linked to Rural Threads‘s Google Maps page instead.
A map can look good as a design feature – I think this is the main reason websites include them – but an interactive map takes up a lot of a page’s loading time.4
Not everyone visiting the website will need to see the map. People searching for Rural Threads‘s location directly on Google will find Rural Threads‘s Google Map page as easily as they would find the website.
The Google Map page is easier to use than the map on the website would be. The map is much bigger and it has more features, such as directions. For most users there isn’t really an advantage in having the interactive map on the website.
- There may be ways to make a CMS almost as easy – some CMSs do have phone apps for example – but I’ve not looked into it.
- Any hashtags used in the Instagram caption (e.g. #mensfashion) are removed because they aren’t useful on the website and look untidy.
- Google have changed how this works. Now you have to give them your credit card details. No thanks.
- A static image of a map – one you can’t move around or zoom in and out of – loads much quicker but resizing it so that it’s usable on different sized screens is difficult.