1. What is CloudCannon?
CloudCannon is a content management system for managing website content. It has a beautiful user interface that gives content editors a great user-experience.
‘Beautiful’ is how CloudCannon describes their CMS. As a long-term user of CMSs, I can also declare that it is beautiful. Logical, with a great design. If you find WordPress easy to use then you will also find CloudCannon a cinch.
CloudCannon is a content as a service provider (CaaS). It allows users to manage content without the worries of maintaining CMS software. CloudCannon is also a hosting company. It pushes your website out globally using its super-charged content delivery network (CDN).
2. What is Jekyll?
Jekyll is static site generator software. And CloudCannon uses it behind the scenes.
Every time you edit a web page Jekyll rebuilds your site, i.e. generates it. Jekyll takes your content and merges it with your layout files. It pumps out the HTML web pages ready for delivery to your website visitors. It’s different to a dynamic website that builds each webpage when requested by a visitor. This latter process slows your site down and it is the way that WordPress works.
CloudCannon runs Jekyll to build your site after you edit it. CloudCannon then takes the outputted website and publishes it on its CDN.
It’s a perfect partnership.
There are many advantages to using a static site generator including:
- Faster performing websites
I am big fan of static site generators. Have a look at our static site generator article to have deep-dive into the benefits.
3. Best user features of CloudCannon
CloudCannon has a very friendly interface. If you’re comfortable editing a WordPress site then you’ll be at ease with CloudCannon. It’s logical and its visual design is very easy on the eye.
It’s fast and cost-effective
Speed effects SEO. CloudCannon has a super-charged content delivery network. This means that your website is as fast in the US as it is in the UK. It is also a cost-effective approach. Achieving the same performance-outcome with WordPress would be much more expensive.
If you come from a WordPress background, then you will know the importance of updates. They keep your WordPress website secure. The problem is they can come thick and fast. Updates can also break your website. Imagine a CMS where you no longer have to worry about updates. That’s what you get when you use CloudCannon.
CloudCannon is a service. It takes care of all the infrastructure and software needed to protect your website. They’re very good at this.
CloudCannon and Jekyll sites are more secure. Why? Because they don’t use a complex stack of technologies that WordPress and others use. For example, MySQL databases are not required. Why is this good? Often MySQL is the entry-point for a hacker.
Edits to your site are all synced with a remote repository. A repository is a place that stores files. I use GitHub but CloudCannon also supports Bitbucket or Dropbox.
Easy working with your developer
CloudCannon also listens out for changes made to your repo. So, if your developer needs to edit a layout file. For example, you might need a new marketing banner. Then the developer pushes the new files to your repo (e.g. GitHub), this triggers a re-build on CloudCannon. And ta-da… you have your new marketing banner ready to use in CloudCannon.
Behind the scenes this is all done with some great software called Git. Git provides version control. Version control allows developers to roll-back to earlier versions of your site. Oops, made a real mess of your site… no worries, your developer can roll it back to before you made the mess.
Sudden spikes in visitor traffic can take-down a dynamic website. This is because the content software cannot process the requests fast enough. CloudCannon’s CDN can cope with sudden spikes in traffic. This is (in part) due to the simple nature of static sites. CloudCannon only needs to deliver the static html pages.
Mimics a dynamic website
Using collections, a Jekyll feature, it’s easy to group related content. In CloudCannon they appear as folders with your content inside. You can add content and categorise the content.
Categorising means that it is straight-forward to filter content. For example, a landing page requires child articles that belong to the same category. This ability brings what appears to be the functionality of a dynamic website to a static one. So you have the best of both worlds.
4. Why I like CloudCannon as a web developer...
Peace of mind
The extra, inherent security gives me, as a developer, peace of mind. I don’t have to worry about updates going wrong because of an incompatible plugin from a third party.
The enhanced speed (plus a good design and coding) mean that the final website performs well. This means that you have a better chance of succeeding with your SEO objectives.
Quicker theme development
With Jekyll and CloudCannon it’s easy to create complex landing pages. The knock-on effect is that it’s more cost-effective for you, the customer. I have built bespoke WordPress themes. The way Jekyll and CC handle custom fields versus custom post types is great. CloudCannon has a large number of easy-to-use widgets for handling different content types. And does not need any third party plugins (though Jekyll does come with a wide range of plugins if you want to use them).
Custom domains, easy installation and free SSL certificates
CloudCannon let’s you add a custom domain with ease. And uses the Let’s Encrypt https security certificates. They’re free and easy to add to your custom domain via CloudCannon.
The SSL certificate, that provides the https protocol, renews each year. I don’t have to install a new one when it expires - more peace of mind.
Intuitive user interface means easier training…
When I demo CloudCannon to a customer, they are always impressed with the interface. When it comes to training then the interface makes everyone’s life easier. Why? Because it is very intuitive.
The level and detail of documentation provided by CloudCannon is excellent. This is good for you if you’re looking for a way of doing something. And it’s good for me, giving me advice for quick theme development.
You don’t need plugins to build a Jekyll and CloudCannon managed site. But Jekyll does have a range of plugins available. You can use plugins to manage certain functionality. For example, a plugin to build a breadcrumb trail or pagination. CloudCannon supports a wide-range of plugins. This is great if you decide to use a plugin.
As a rule, I try not to use plugins. But for example, the sitemap.xml plugin is very useful for generating a new sitemap after you edit the site.
It’s worth saying here that the plugin experience is very different to that of WordPress. With Jekyll, the developer decides when to upgrade to the next version of Jekyll. Remember, what is on your website is only plain html there’s no software exposed for hacking. So there’s no rush to upgrade for security reasons.
Upgrading Jekyll is a very controlled approach. It allows testing of plugins before you use them in earnest. WordPress has auto-updating. I have a WordPress demo site for experimenting with page load times. The site emails me after WordPress has updated. I then check whether the site is OK or not. This is not an ideal approach; it should involve a staging site.
Can I have any design theme with CloudCannon?
We can bespoke build you any theme that will be compatible with CloudCannon. You can also buy html themes from online stores such as Envato / theme forest and we’ll Jekyllize them. You can also buy Jekyll themes.
Can I have a multi-language site with CloudCannon and Jekyll?
Can I have an enquiry form with CloudCannon?
Yes, CloudCannon has form functionality.
Can I have comments with a static site?
Yes, this would be using Disqus
Can I have a search option for a CloudCannon site?
Yes, this would use Google’s insite searching functionality.
Can I have more than one user access?
Yes, we can setup CloudCannon with access to more than one person. For example, a login for the marketing manager and a marketing assistant.
Jekyll uses markdown for content. Is there a rich text editor in CloudCannon?
Is GDPR covered with CloudCannon?
It’s unrelated to CloudCannon. Any site we build is GDPR compliant.