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WordPress, React, & The New

Oh man, this has been a long time coming. While our last site served us well, and we’re very proud of it – it had grown a little long in the tooth. We suffered from a case of Cobbler’s Kid – spend all day every day building websites and applications for others, while neglecting our own.

Internal vs Revenue: The SHOWDOWN

Internal initiatives, like websites, research, and side projects, are always difficult to prioritize. While working on internal projects is always lots of fun, and popular with the team, its difficult to schedule them at the expense of new opportunities. The blessing that is cool client and product projects, becomes the curse of never having enough time. When we started planning this website build, we came upon a crossroads. We could build a website using the same tools and approach that we’ve been applying to client projects for ages. This would utilize all of our expertise, and capitalize on efficiency. It’d be the fastest and most prudent thing to do. Of course, we went a different direction. Building a site for ourselves became an opportunity to experiment, to learn, to gain experience in new approaches and technologies without the risk of jeopardizing a client project’s timeline or budget. This made it more expensive. Heading out to the technological edge made the whole thing take longer. That said, it ultimately made it more valuable to us as an organization.

A really needy editorial team (Shane, Peter, and I)

The new Tribe website is built using our custom modular content manager – Tribe Panels. This is a tool that we’ve been using for the last few years, evolving as our needs grow (think a page builder on steroids). I’ve spoken frequently about the need for a more modular approach to Content Management within WordPress specifically. Tribe Panels is how we accomplish that. We’re also running our social media scraper to grab social media posts from our team to populate our lifestream. These are the tools we use everyday on our client projects but…

WordPress Unleashed

We took these complex content management tools and married them to the new WordPress Rest API allowing our biggest innovation to happen on the front end of the website. Our theme is built as a single page application, using React js (the same technology that powers Automattic’s Calypso). While we’ve utilized apis together with WordPress and js templating for years now, building a holistic theme meant constantly paving new ground. So many things we had taken for granted became new challenges. Adding our robust modular tools on top of the REST API only made those challenges more complex (and ultimately fun).

Dogfood for lunch?

When you’re considering your own internal projects, there are times to experiment and times to capitalize on efficiency. Knowing when to do which is essential to running a successful business. While this project took longer, I’m excited to head in to 2016 with a complicated JS theme and v2 rest api build already in the can. The value that we get from the project far exceeds the deliverable that we’re releasing to the wild.

So really, how’d you do it?

Over the next couple weeks, we’ll release a series of blog posts documenting how we built the site, and some of the challenges and resulting solutions that we came across. We’re excited to share some of our experience back with the community in the form of research, knowledge share and even code. Look for large portions of the site to hit Github shortly. We owe an enormous thank you to the API team. Here’s to the future of WordPress unleashed, and an exciting 2016.

WordPress, React, & The New

Rebuilt from the ground up on new technologies.




I'm an art director hailing from the great northern state of Minnesota. After a decade in the industry, I'm only interested in projects where we get to add real value. I believe in making grids, breaking grids, clean code, good type, 70's motorcycles, and Raymond Chandler novels.