Not just another blog

On making an article engine for Makeshift’s new website

By stef

Publishing on the web is important when you’re doing a startup. And whenever you think about starting a new place to put those articles, you have to think about what tech you’ll use:

  • Wordpress is dated. 
  • Rails is hard. 
  • Jekyll is geeky. 
  • Tumblr is childish.

Plus, all of them make decisions about what “content” is on the web. I think for the Makeshift site we should do things differently, and really think about how we make pages (or “pieces”) of the web.

So here is a little sketch of one direction for our “publishing engine”.

It’s not a blog

Blogs emphasise recency over relevance, and rely on some pretty old ideas. Let’s start again. What are we trying to do? It’s not a blog, we want to write useful, beautiful pieces for a web audience.

Multi-author

Lots of content engines think they do multi-author. We do it at the level of a ‘piece’. Any of them can have multiple contributors.

Crediting  is inviting

You can edit the “by” field on this piece, and as soon as you add a twitter handle, that person can edit that piece by logging in. And anything else on the site. When have you ever had anyone you’re working with do anything stupid on your site? Let’s be more relaxed.

Borrow from the best

Let’s borrow some ideas from Medium, from Subtle, from Hubspot, develop them further for our specific use-case and then, maybe release this as a tool for others.

Simplify

We only allow ourselves to use a minimum of HTML tags and features.

Calls to action

If you’re visiting it should be very clear what you’re supposed to do—sign up to one of our apps, add your email, whatever it is.

Per-product collections of pieces

To that end, each product gets its own collection of pieces. And by extension, we could make knowledge-base articles, and other useful stuff by collecting it together.

Meta

And, as is the way with Makeshift, we’re being deliberately meta. Let’s make an app about making our apps, so that we can release it as an app that lets people write about their apps!

So here is a sketch. I'd appreciate your thoughts!