How our website became a case study

Thanks to their work on our website, Matt and Steven were asked to speak at a huge event. So how did it go?

Clock3 min readCalendarPublished: 3 Mar 2022
AuthorLuke Garbutt, Steven Milne, Matt Johnson

We’re really proud of our website. It’s a perfect reflection of who we are and what we’re trying to achieve as a company.

And we’re proud of how we built it. The web and engineering teams worked flat out to not only build the site itself, but a new CMS to support it.

And their excellent work has been noticed. In February, both Matt (SEO & Web Lead) and Steven (Technical Lead) were invited to speak at a webinar showcasing the site and its performance.

So how did this come about? And what happened on the day? We spoke with Matt and Steven to find out.

Tell us a little about the background behind this. What was the conference all about and why were you asked to speak?

Matt:

We recently worked with our CMS provider, Strapi, on a case study for their website, which told the story of our rebrand and the Strapi-powered site that we built to showcase Glean to the world.

In the case study, we discussed the results we achieved with our new website, which included growth in both organic visibility and traffic.

Strapi isn’t the only piece of tech we use in the make-up of our website - far from it! In fact, Strapi is what’s called a headless CMS, which means we need a frontend framework to run alongside it.

And Gatsby was our chosen frontend.

Gatsby read our case study on Strapi’s website and wanted to learn more about the part they played in our success.

So they reached out to us and invited us to take part in a joint webinar: Glean, Gatsby, and Strapi.

This was a big event! Were you nervous at all? Have you had experience doing anything like this before?

“I’ve never presented a live webinar before”

- Matt, SEO & Web Lead

I’d never presented a live webinar before, so my only practice was presenting in team meetings and creating videos for my YouTube channel.

Naturally I felt nervous beforehand, but this was alleviated to a degree by the Gatsby team’s preparation. We had an ideation session, followed by several dry-runs, so when the time came to present the webinar live, I felt as prepared as I could be.

How did it go?

Matt:

The webinar went well, I think! We had about 600 registrants, although not all of them attended the live webinar - some preferring to watch the recording.

We were certainly well prepared by the time it came to present live, and the only unknown aspect of the webinar was the Q&A at the end.

We had some challenging questions from the audience but I feel we answered them with aplomb.

Also, we presented two demonstrations: one showcased redirects and the other showcased how we built tabbed content that looks great to users and is fully crawlable by search engines. The audience was very impressed with our work, with people even asking if we’d consider open-sourcing the way we’d set up our redirects.

What’s it been like working with Gatsby and Strapi, Steven?

“With Gatsby and Strapi, we can have our engineering cake and eat it!”

- Steven, Technical Lead

Steven:

We rely on both quite heavily to deliver our website in a fast and scalable way to anybody, regardless of where they are in the world.

We use Gatsby to convert code into the actual website that you’re likely reading right now. It means we can write this website like it’s a more complex web app, like Glean. We can use more advanced engineering techniques to guarantee that we are delivering quality at scale.

Web apps don’t often make for the fastest web pages - in Glean we’ve seen the page take up to 8 seconds to load! That just won’t do for our website, so that’s what Gatsby’s for. Gatsby converts our web app code into an actual website with static HTML, CSS and Javascript. This is great as it makes our website as fast as it can be, but it also helps Google understand our pages better. This means we can have our engineering cake and eat it!

We use Strapi as a CMS to allow non-technical people in the business to add content to the website without writing a single line of code. Before we used Strapi, developers had to add content to the website on their behalf. This prevented us from adding lots of content to our website quickly. So Strapi gave our marketing team more independence to make the changes they want, when they want.

The best part is the amount of customization within Strapi; it lets us give non-technical people almost the same level of flexibility on the website as developers get.

The experience of working with both pieces of technology has been great! Both are pretty easy to get set up to play around with and also have great documentation and support in case anything goes wrong. We’ve now been using Gatsby for 3 years and Strapi for 1 year and everything is still going nice and smoothly.

Getting to work directly with them both to deliver a blog and a webinar has been an amazing experience. The people in both companies were very nice and great to work with. I’m looking forward to working with them again in the future.

How will you both follow up from this experience?

Steven:

We’re working with Gatsby to upgrade to Version 4, which will allow us to use Gatsby Cloud. At the moment we manage all of the infrastructure needed to deliver our website. This is fine, but it does mean that we are responsible for making sure we use that infrastructure to its full potential. While we’re generally good at doing this, Gatsby does it better and faster! Plus with less time managing infrastructure, we’ll have more time to put cool things on our website!

Matt:

Perhaps the most exciting thing we’ll be doing off the back of this webinar is open sourcing the way we do redirects with Strapi. This means that we will release a package that anybody can download for free and install within their own copy of Strapi. This is a great way to give back to a community that we’ve relied on for years.

We’ve also made some great connections with people at both companies which will come in handy in the future.

Learn more about Glean

Behind all of our work is a mission - to improve the lives of one million learners. And our engineering and web teams are a huge part of our plan to achieve it.

To discover more about our vision for learning, and find out how you can get on board, visit our About Us page!

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