Mashable was once the poster child for what WordPress could do on a wide-scale publishing level. When coming across WordPress “haters” I’ve pointed to several high profile websites that use it as their primary Content Management System, chief amongst theme being Mashable. Today they’ve announced a redesign as they’ve undoubtedly moved to a more scalable, responsive design optimized for multiple devices. I’m honestly surprised that it’s taken them this long to move to a responsive design, given the sheer amount of content they produce on a daily basis and the overall trend of mobile news consumption. There’s nothing more annoying than having to pinch, zoom, and scroll on your mobile device just to see content.
Mashable Now Looks Great on an iPad
It scales nicely without hiding any content. It’s also pleasantly smooth as you transition between top stories and relevant items. They were smart to use CSS media-queries to collapse and repurpose content as needed.
What Happened to WordPress?
The disappointing thing about the redesign is that they’re no longer using WordPress as a CMS. Disappointing for me at least, because I spend so much time evangelizing WordPress.
Using the awesome Chrome extension Wappalyzer, you can see that Mashable employs a few modern web technologies that assist in its responsive design:
- Modernizr- A script that detects if a users browser can handle certain aspects of HTML5 and CSS3. Sometimes people use antiquated web browsers that don’t recognize these technologies (every iteration of Internet Explorer before 10)
- Underscore.js- A utility belt library that supports Backbone.
- Handlebars.js- An easier way to build semantic templates with less code.
This leads me to believe that Mashable has switched to a proprietary CMS, something you do only when you’ve outgrown your current one. This is one of those rare cases when a website can’t scale WordPress anymore and has to develop their own solution. I’ve never had a client who I’ve advised to “move away” from WordPress. A sheer testament to how Mashable has grown as a web content provider.