Sharing the Gulf (And How We Built It)

Helping the EDF spread the message of overfishing

Everyone likes coconut shrimp, right? Well, here’s the problem: if shrimp are overfished in the Gulf, then nobody gets coconut shrimp and we all lose. The same applies to red snapper, grouper, oysters...really any and all Gulf seafood that everyone from restaurateurs to consumers know and love.

Share the Gulf is a member organization of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) that works to preserve the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem through catch share programs so that all can enjoy its abundance for generations. To help them in their mission, we designed, wrote and developed an eye-catching and easily-updatable site with a strong call to action.

What We Did

Often, businesses and organizations default to using WordPress templates due to the perception that WP is cost-effective and easy to use. Which is true…ish. And the ish is what matters.

We knew we could do better for EDF, delivering an exceptional site using headless WordPress with React front end and server-side rendering.

With the build style we chose, javascript runs in the client. This approach using a hybrid of java and React delivers top-notch performance with exceptionally fast load times. The first time you send a request to the site the request is rendered on the server rather than rendering the entire page; everything else happens in the browser. In plain English, it’s a small request in terms of bite-size that’s less work for the server and delivers the API payload quickly. Ok, in really plain English: The loads fast and looks great.

Why That's Awesome

It’s true that hosting costs for a WordPress template site are a little lower than our more bespoke approach, but that’s where the (minimal) advantages of a WP template stop. The WordPress environment is constricting and hard to customize. And, contrary to expectations, using a WordPress template typically locks you into working with WordPress developers, which reduces the talent pool you can draw from and increases costs. But beyond that, building user interactivity features in a WordPress template requires using jquery, which can lead to code bloat and disorganization. That leads to complex, messy “spaghetti code,” which is as bad as it sounds.

Also contrary to expectations? The fact that our more custom approach is actually easier to work with and can be updated, tweaked, and maintained by almost any developer. React is a modern, powerful, and fairly simple coding language ideal for front-facing user experience and interactivity. Unlike Java, React is shareable across desktop, mobile, and even smartwatch platforms. When done right, our approach is cheaper and increases adaptability, code organization and ease of maintenance. And despite being bespoke, you won’t have to write code from scratch to make updates.

Why it Matters to You

Simply put, our approach yields zippy load times and places an emphasis on UX, something that we all talk about doing but don’t always due for various reasons. That makes for better marketing for fish- and non-fish-related organizations regardless of scope or budget. See? We told you the “ish” matters.