Switch From Wordpress To Statamic Flat File CMS

Posted on May 10th, 2013

I have been managing my website for the past few years using Wordpress. I remember how Wordpress was considered to be more of a blogging engine and not so much a content management system (CMS). However, over time Wordpress evolved into a more feature rich system that allowed people to create big website with lots of menus and content. Wordpress used to be simple but now it evolved into something that is too complex for my needs.

Most of what I write nowadays is written using the markdown syntax 1. I usually open Byword2 or Mou3 and begin working on content. Once I finished writing, I copied my content to Wordpress and used Markdown QuickTags plugin4 to convert markdown to HTML. This has worked for quiet some time. However, after a while, it became annoying to have to convert from one format to another and not have my content in sync between my computer and Wordpress.

Managing media files, constantly updating Wordpress for security improvements, updating all the new plugins, and making sure that the database is clean became time consuming and annoying. I just wanted to focus on creating good content and simplify the publishing process. I began looking around for content management systems that support markdown out of the box and weren’t as complicated as Wordpress.

I looked at platforms such as Habari, Squarespace, Joomla, Concrete5, and other platforms. Eventually I stumbled upon keywords “flat file CMS”, which means that there is no administration backend and database to deal with. All you have to manage are files and folders just like you manage documents on your computer.

I experimented with a few different flat files CMS including, Kirby, Anchor CMS, Dropplets, Leeflets, and other systems. They all have their pros and cons but my biggest challenged was that I did not know any HTML or other coding language. I needed something that would have the following requirements:

  • User friendly interface
  • Simple theme out of the box that can customize to my needs
  • Markdown support
  • Easy learning curve for someone who does not know much HTML (yet)
  • Easy to understand documentation (user guide)
  • Technical support or a community of active users

I finally found Statamic, which checked all of my requirements. Statamic is a flat files CMS that allows you to build powerful and dynamic websites without a database. I recreated my Wordpress website on my computer using Statamic and MAMP5, and through the support of a very friendly community was able to design my website into its current version. What I like about Statamic:

  • Excellent documentation
  • Very friendly & active support via Twitter, Gogole+, and forums
  • Simplicity - just manage files and folders
  • Markdown support
  • Easy to understand and learn if you don’t know HTML (yet)
  • Active development
  • Freedom and flexibility, which resonate with my key values

My new website is designed with simplicity and reader satisfaction in mind. I disabled comments and social media buttons to keep things clean and focused. If you have any questions of comments, Twitter and Email work great. While some people may argue that social media buttons are essential I tend to agree with Leo Babauta6, if people will want to share your content, most of them will know how to do it. Posts are organized using categories and tags to help you navigate and find what you are looking for. In other words, I created a website that I love to use myself.

Going back to my writing workflow, all I have to do to publish my content is to sync a newly created text file to my hosting server using FTP. The new workflow is: open Byword, create content, save the file, and click sync via FTP. Everything is published without ever opening the web browser and navigating through cluttered Wordpress interface. In case I need to change or update something, all I have to do is open a text file, make some changes, save, and sync. I strongly recommend Statamic to anyone who wants a great CMS with simplicity and support for markdown.

P.S. I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who has helped me design and make my site functional. I would like to thank the community on Google+ Statamic page and Statamic support on Twitter.

  1. Markdown is a plain text to HTML converter, relying on standardised but natural formatting syntax in the plain text. 

  2. Byword is beautiful and efficient text editor for Markdown and rich text. 

  3. Mou - Markdown editor for web developers, on Mac OS X 

  4. QuickTags is a plugin for WordPress which replaces the HTML editor with a Markdown enabled set of buttons and features. 

  5. MAMP: Install Apache, PHP and MySQL with few clicks under Mac OS X! 

  6. Leo Babauta - Notes on writing “Don’t become a social media marketer, or a social media expert or consultant or strategist. Become a creator.” 

Questions or comments? Send me an email