NS News & Views

By Clive Norman
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A blend of style and performance

| Tags: Website DevOps Caching CSS JavaScript

Recently, I had the privilege of designing and building the Wylye Valley Art Trail website.  The 2015 trail consists of 75 venues, and in-excess of 300 artists – I’m sure you’ll agree, that’s a reasonable size!

In many ways, the website had to embrace an “all things, to all people” approach; the content needed to include artist images, alongside an array of useful information pertaining to each venue (e.g. opening times, contact details, map displays, artist information, access arrangements etc).

There was also a fair amount of inconsistency between venues, which needed to be catered for – “square peg, round hole” was a common theme.

Personally, I felt a CMS wasn’t the best option (too much cruft & bloat).  As such I hand-coded the entire project, from the data entry screens through to the final website.  Whilst this was a lot more work from a “coding” perspective, it enabled me to remain in complete control over “bits” being sent across the wire - so to speak.


For style, I leant towards Google’s Material Design guide and icononography – it seemed to be appropriate for creating a slick, functional & informative website, yet leaving enough room for artistic display.


Underlying all the design and information details, was an absolute requirement to maintain a top browsing performance - image based websites and performance, don’t always go hand in hand!

Getting The Right Blend

By utilising many modern tips and techniques, I was able to not only create what I believe, to be a very functional and useable website, but one that also scored highly from a performance aspect, without a sacrifice on aesthetics.

To substantiate this, below are a couple of YSlow screen shots.

The first clearly indicates an overall Grade A score (I was well chuffed with that), whilst the other shows initial home page weight, alongside the much reducedcached” page weight.

At the time of posting, I feel I have utilised a lot of good modern practice – however, I have little doubt that in 18 months time, this will be seen as “so last year” - but isn’t that why we love this industry?

Summary of technologies & processes



Front End Libraries

Performance & Architecture On Server

Performance & Architecture On Client