Moving to Statamic

I am not a developer. I am a designer of sorts. I have always relied on Content Management Systems to provide me with a framework for doing stuff that's beyond my knowledge while I make things look pretty, work well and get money from happy clients.

These are my notes on moving from Perch to Statamic 3. I hope you find them useful.

Part 1: The background

I’ve been using Perch as my go-to CMS since I went solo (again!) in 2012.

I had used it a couple of times before then and liked the fact that it used the same tagging technique as Expression Engine and Coldfusion. The content is kept fairly separate from the functionality unlike Wordpress and other CMS behemoths.

I first went freelance in 2000. I offered a mix of services including artworking, IT and websites. It was pretty chaotic as was my life at the time. I then started an art printing business with a friend which didn't last long, so I went back to building websites. I used Coldfusion as it felt like I could avoid coding. I even built my own proto CMS which I called Gas. Like the name it was full of hot air.

I didn't make any websites at all between 2006 and 2012. I worked for a print design agency as a Creative Director (codename Lazy Designer).

Perch is a pretty great CMS system that has been woefully neglected over the last few years. It’s basically a big bag of functions that allow you to build all kinds of websites. Development has pretty much all but stopped and the owners have really pissed off their customers.

So now there’s an exodus of the old guard looking for a new home. I’ve had my eye on Craft and Statamic for a while but it's hard to make the change when you've invested so much time building sites in one CMS.

I recently took on a new project for a brand new business. It's for my Brother-in-Law so I had carte blanche over many of those interminable decisions that come with my day-to-day clients. I thought I’d take the plunge with Statamic. A database-less CMS is very appealing.

I had heard that Statamic 3 was nearing the end of Beta so took the plunge.

Coming from Perch my technical knowledge is pretty limited. Or at least it’s very old school. I am very much a plain html, css and ftp kind of web designer. It turns out that Perch is something of an anathema in the brave new world of dependency managers, automated compiling and deployment. I don't really use any of these things. So I feel like I’ve emerged into a Dystopian future - like Miles Monroe in Sleeper.

Two years ago I was burnt out from providing day-to-day design and artworking services. I decided to transition to solely websites and branding in order to get more control over my working day*. I’ve made exactly 25 websites in that time. Not bad for a dinosaur print designer!

* Ha, fat chance!

There are so many things to learn.

A new hope…

Part 2: Things run on things that run on things