Book publishing has long calendars – when a book is acquired, the release date can be set 18 months out. Despite ample lead time, not much energy is typically spent giving books an attractive home online. Yes, most people end up on Amazon (hard to out-SEO them). For The Runaway Species, though, we wanted to do something a bit more special, and that gave me an opportunity to have some fun with designing and coding a project and experimenting with some new tools.
For design, I had a book cover containing fonts and colors to serve as a basic style guide. The content was pretty much self-explanatory, and I had plenty of practice building responsive websites, so designing that part came together quickly. A bit more challenging was that I had only built static sites on my own, and this needed to be editable by someone that wasn't a coder.
Catapult already had some Wordpress and Rails projects in-house, but this had to be virtually no-maintenance, and I wanted to keep the code simple. The solution I came to was a static site built with Middleman with DatoCMS for editing, Circle CI for building, and S3/Cloudfront for hosting. The experience in the end was dead simple – anyone could edit the parts that needed to be edited, hit publish, and the site would update. I could keep using the Middleman/S3 combination I'd enjoyed and gotten used to on other projects, but someone else could be involved. Nevermind that most of the energy on the project was spent setting up the backend to make that possible.
Catapult, Static Site