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Secret d'écriture
Marketing Website
Administrative Support
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Sanity Studio interface. Among all the content management systems I have studied, it is by far the most powerful and intuitive to use. For a live demo, do not hesitate to contact me.
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Secret d'Écriture, directed by Laurence Freycon, is an independent entity specialized in secretarial services and proofreading. After an unsatisfactory start with her initial WordPress website, we collaborated to create a custom site using Sanity and Next.js. This gives me the opportunity to revisit the advantages of this approach, which characterizes the work at OignonFugace. Here's our exchange.

Hello Laurence. Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your activity? What are the main services you offer and what type of clients do you cater to?

My name is Laurence, and I am the founder of Secret d’Écriture, an independent secretarial business that I started in early 2021. With a varied experience in the private sector and territorial public service, I offer administrative and commercial management services. I cater to a diverse clientele, including artisans, merchants, freelancers, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), associations, individuals, and students.

Furthermore, my passion for the French language and the need for excellent proficiency in it in my profession have naturally led me to offer proofreading and orthographic correction services. This offer is aimed at various profiles, such as authors, entrepreneurs, content creators, individuals, and students, to help them make their writings impeccable and enhanced.

Before our collaboration, what web solution did you have? Can you tell us about the context in which your first site was created, the tools used, and how the content was conceived and written? Additionally, what limitations could have justified seeking a new solution?

When I created Secret d’écriture, I needed an online presence. With all the other steps involved in setting up a business, I had little time to devote to this. Therefore, I opted for WordPress, which is a simple and economical ready-to-use solution. I was using the default WordPress theme from 2015: Twenty Fifteen, which speaks to the level of customization! The content was basic, mirroring my presentation and the arguments I had developed for my prospecting.

However, this basic site didn't really meet my needs. The page system lacked flexibility, and it was difficult to clearly showcase my two main services - secretarial work and proofreading-correction - and to target different clienteles with specific messages and offers. Gradually, I no longer felt represented by this site, to the point of not wanting to use it, update it, or enrich it.

With the consolidation of my activity and the growth of the proofreading-correction side, it was time for me to move to a more viable solution, easier to use, more engaging for my audience, and more reflective of my image.

To better understand the solutions provided, it's essential to grasp the fundamental principles of the content management philosophy championed by OignonFugace: the essence of these principles is to treat content as flexible, structured, and interconnected data, rather than as a rigid monolithic block. WordPress and traditional content management systems make it difficult to implement such an approach, unless one takes roundabout ways that ultimately render the system impractical.

In the case of Secret d'écriture, this approach has effectively met several challenges, starting with creating clear navigation that accurately represents the dual activity of administrative assistance and correction and proofreading. Specific data schemas were developed for different types of documents: top-level pages, service segmentation pages, blog posts, testimonials, pricing details, global site settings, and metadata necessary for search engine optimization (SEO).

This approach, aimed at separating content from presentation, allows for freedom in building the user interface. It enables the design to precisely meet needs while considering the possibility of integrating new content structures in the future without complicating the existing system. Achieving this level of customization and performance is rare with mainstream solutions like WordPress, whose limitations quickly become apparent, and workarounds can be costly.

Sanity is the ecosystem that allows me to achieve these ends. Moreover, its use solves a second challenge: the Sanity studio coupled with the custom content structuring from our collaboration makes the site editing and administration experience fluid, intuitive, and enjoyable. I know you have had to work with WordPress on other sites besides your own. What advantages or improvements do you perceive in using this new solution? How does it compare to your previous experiences?

It's true that my work has led me to use WordPress on several occasions. In reality, I quickly get lost in all the editing possibilities, whether with Gutenberg, Divi, Elementor, menu systems, pages, plugins... It seems that one can do a lot with WordPress, but without some in-depth training, it all remains quite obscure. The saying that a one-size-fits-all solution never suits everyone is well reflected in this experience.

I discovered a much more intuitive approach with the Sanity studio. As we were able to think about the content structure together beforehand, I have access to an interface that gives me exactly what I need, and ensures that the changes I make preserve the aesthetic coherence of the site. The solidity of the structure is truly palpable.

The interface navigation is smooth, and updating information is much easier compared to WordPress. I have tailored fields for each piece of information, I can format my texts, insert images, links, and even videos without worrying about the layout, SEO metadata management is directly integrated into the editor. The features are reduced to the essentials of what the user needs to know and use; it is really easy to use, even for a computer novice.

My development philosophy leads me to favor the use of two major tools. Sanity is the first; the second is Next.js, a powerful JavaScript framework. Beyond its advantages in terms of development experience, Next.js allows me to abstract many layers of complexity inherent in the web in order to direct resources directly towards creating essential elements with high added value. It enables the implementation of powerful paradigms, such as Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR), which ultimately significantly benefit the site's performance (Core Web Vitals), user experience, security, and search engine optimization (SEO).

Again, this philosophy is in complete opposition to prepackaged solutions such as WordPress themes, which suffer in each of these aspects, in addition to being rigid, not very scalable, and poorly adapted to specific or complex needs.

Whether it's user experience, navigation, visual elements, or others, are there any aspects of the site that you find remarkable?

The big difference with this new site is the speed of navigation. Everything is fluid, the instant page loading is remarkable, especially on mobile, where it almost feels like using an app.

The site's design is crafted to present a large amount of information in a visually light and engaging manner. This is particularly noticeable on the pages for specific client segmentation, with sliders showcasing benefits and accordions detailing services. Visitors can quickly find what they're looking for without feeling overwhelmed.

I really like the slider for testimonials and the overlapping cards that illustrate the collaboration process. I also appreciate the integration of the online appointment scheduling calendar, which is accessible without the visitor having to leave the page. All this offers a good user experience, which is quite a contrast to what I know from sites built with WordPress.

There are reasons to think that using powerful technologies like Next.js and Sanity might be excessive for modest-looking projects that could make do with less. However, I almost systematically recommend them, as their implementation rarely proves more costly than the available alternatives, and especially because their use allows for exceptional flexibility in the evolution of projects.

Sanity, for instance, enables the creation of new content structures to meet new requirements. It allows for the integration of features such as site internationalization or the addition of an online store, among others. Its fundamental principle of structuring content independently of its visual rendering offers multiple presentation opportunities: content can be adapted to various formats, from traditional websites to other mediums like books, mobile apps, presentations, etc.

Moreover, the infrastructure built on the basis of Next.js makes it possible to create application solutions that will naturally integrate with the initial realization. Business solutions like a client area, training space, event booking system, etc., can be developed and added to the site later, without compromising its integrity or performance.

Regarding the future evolution of the site, how do you envision the next steps? Do you have any particular projects in mind, and do you think the current solution will be able to support them?

For the next stage of my website's development, I plan to create a personalized and secure client space. The idea is to have a kind of cloud directly on the site, accessible with unique credentials for each client. This would replace the email, WeTransfer, or WhatsApp exchanges that I currently use for document transmission and work instructions. It would be a centralized location where my clients could upload their documents and where I could track the time spent on each project. I see this centralization of exchanges and project management with my clients as a crucial and practical improvement.

I am confident that this new feature, as well as the potential development of other services, will integrate seamlessly into the current site structure. The platform we have set up is flexible enough to adapt to these changes. Beyond the fact that you are my son and that it is obvious our collaboration will continue, it is a reassuring point that the solution can evolve beyond this initial project.

Thank you 🙂. Would you recommend the creation of a custom site like the one resulting from our collaboration? If so, why, in what context, and do you think that alternative and less expensive solutions still have an advantage?

Absolutely, I recommend a custom site like this one. It truly reflects who I am, my needs, and my wishes, which is crucial for standing out in today's digital world. This personalization, besides being aesthetically pleasing, conveys a professionalism and competence that can be lacking in generic solutions like WordPress.

I am convinced that even though alternative solutions may seem less expensive at the outset, investing in a custom site is a wise choice in the long term. It brings significant added value in many aspects: quality, flexibility, durability, alignment with personal or professional goals. For those looking to build a meaningful and evolving online presence, such an approach is essential. Thank you for the realization.

Cover image
Cover image
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Sanity Studio interface. Among all the content management systems I have studied, it is by far the most powerful and intuitive to use. For a live demo, do not hesitate to contact me.
Cover image