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New look – a focus on text and speed

Custom Creative has had a bit of a makeover. Now my time is largely spent on projects at Helpful Technology I have decided to move the focus of this site from marketing my services to the blog content. With this comes a renewed commitment to write more… good intentions at least.

While restructuring the site I decided it was time for a visual refresh too. Particularly due to the focus on reading a high performance theme was in order РI settled on Fastr (available on GitHub) and created my own fork. So far the changes are minor Рstyling tweaks for taste & accessibility, and support for some new WordPress features including title-tag & custom-logo.

Now Fastr lived up to is name anyway – with no JavaScript and minimal CSS it is already a high performance theme – but with a couple of plugins things really start to fly. This site has now hit the heady heights of 99% performance ratings on both Yslow and Pagespeed.

Page size for this sitePerformance scores for this site
The two main factors getting us here, after the theme, are Autoptimize and WP Super Cache.

Autoptimize concatenates and minifies HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; it can also inline and defer if chosen. This reduces file sizes and DNS lookups. Since this site is so lightweight I chose to inline all CSS as this can drastically reduce the time to first render and the apparent loading speed for users.

WP Super Cache creates static HTML versions of your site to save the latency and load of accessing the database to generate the site.

In front of the site there is also Varnish – this is hosted on Gandi’s PAAS which comes with Varnish pre-configured, I highly recommend them for anything not requiring a dedicated server – and then Cloudflare. As I have said however, most of the speed in this case actually comes from the plugins and theme itself.

I hope you like the new site – there’s bound to be some tweaks to appearance and configuration of the next few weeks, and hopefully more than a few posts.

York House photoshoot

Last weekend I had the pleasure of staying at York House in Tetbury. While they won’t be opening until spring 2012 – just in time for the Gold Cup – this boutique bed & breakfast was ready for it’s first photoshoot. After spending an evening with the proprietor Brock Bergius discussing plans for the website and how to reflect the ethos, the morning saw us dressing the rooms and getting down to the photos. With work still going on to get the guest rooms ready we focussed on the communal areas and the little details that really show the character of the house.
It’ll be exciting to see York House develop over the next couple of months and we should be launching the website shortly to let potential customers keep up to date on the progress. If you’re planning a visit to the Cotswolds for a holiday or are looking for somewhere to stay for the Cheltenham festival & Gold Cup, York House in Tetbury should be on your list!

For now – here’s a sneak peak at what York House will offer: