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schwarzdesign

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Just a few days before christmas we relaunched our own agency website at schwarzdesign.de using ProcessWire! The old Drupal-based site was getting a bit outdated, we wanted to rebuilt it with fewer, more focused content pages, clean & minimalistic design and better performance for mobile visitors. Note that the site copy is only available in German.

After a couple of successful ProcessWire projects such as Engfer Consulting and Joachim Kobuss, we decided to use it for our own site as well, mostly for it's small footprint and developer-focused API.

We also have a dedicated ProcessWire page on our new site, check it out here!

Modules used

A focus on content

We went for a minimalistic approach with a limited set of design elements to highlight our content, which is mostly copy about our services and approach to web design. The two-column layout is built with a single Repeater Matrix section with fields for left and right copy, left and right images and a couple of display options for column width and alignment. Other Repeater Matrix types include a full-width image with some additional links (used on the homepage), teaser sections for current news and projects as well as a list of services.

We used dedicated page types (templates) for services, projects and news. This allowed us to use those as taxonomies for our reference projects, and create cross-references to those pages in one go. For this purpose, there's also a dedicated CMS template and pages for all Content-Management-Systems we use, allowing us to categorize our projects and news in regards to the CMS used and show appropriate pages in the recommended content sections.

Performance

Loading times become ever more important with the rising amount of mobile traffic, both for the bounce rate and for SEO purposes. For client-side performance, we got rid of all external libraries (CSS and JavaScript). All CSS is written in SASS; we use a very stripped down version of Bootstrap 4 that includes only the grid system, the utility classes and a select few of the components. We also avoided the components requiring jQuery, allowing us to get rid of jQuery entirely. The few interactive parts of the site (flyout menus, the theme switch, adding the blur filter for the background image on scroll) are written in simple vanilla JavaScript.

Server-side, we use the ProcessWire page cache to minimize server response times, as well as Cache-Control headers and GZIP compression to make sure all assets are as lightweight as possible and cached client-side. One problem we had were the large header images requiring transparency. We ended up combining a couple of approaches to minimize image loading times:

  • SVG assets where possible (for example, all the service pages (Kompetenzen) use SVG for the header images.
  • Responsive images to serve the smallest possible image for each device.
  • PNG compression using the TinyPNG service and the TinyPNG module. This had possibly the highest impact, sometimes reducing the image size by about 80%!

Design highlights

One of the adornments of the site are the large, variable sized header images. Position and size can be controlled through the backend: We built display settings for size in viewport width or height, vertical and horizontal alignment as well as optional offsets. The header images are fixed to the viewport, so they always stay in the background. The blurred background uses CSS filters, with a fallback to a simple opacity reduction for older browsers.

As a gimmick, there is a light and a dark theme for the website, the latter being the default. You can switch between themes using the sun icon in the menu. On the technical sides, both themes have their own stylesheets, compiled using the same SASS source files with different variables. Only the active theme's CSS is directly loaded on the site, the other is included as a preloaded asset. The active theme is saved in the session, so it stays active for the duration of the browser session.

For our reference projects (Referenzen), we replaced the background color with the primary color of the project (each project has a color field for that purpose). We determine the luminance of the primary color programmatically to find if the color has higher contrast to black or white, and use the light or dark theme accordingly.

Screenshots

schwarzdesign_front_homepage.png

schwarzdesign_front_news_content.png

schwarzdesign_front_recommended_content.png

schwarzdesign_front_service_webdesign.png

schwarzdesign_front_services_reel.png

schwarzdesign_back_page_tree.png

schwarzdesign_back_hero_settings.png

schwarzdesign_back_processwire.png

schwarzdesign_back_section_overview.png

schwarzdesign_back_sections_settings.png

schwarzdesign_back_section_two_columns.png

schwarzdesign_back_seo_settings.png

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