Acquia Site Studio: Q & A
Formerly known as Acquia Cohesion, Site Studio is a cutting edge site builder technology that dramatically improves how brands design, build, author, and enhance their sites.
As an Acquia partner, our team got a chance to become an early adopter of the technology. To share some of our learnings we sat down with teammate Nick Pizzo, front-end lead and Site Studio Certified developer, for a quick Q & A session.
What does Site Studio allow you to do?
Site Studio allows you to build your own components (headers, themes), define your own components, and then reuse components. This can be done throughout a project, as well as from one Site Studio project to another, so it’s somewhat like a template or a shared library.
How does this work?
Site Studio is a marquis example of a page builder on steroids. We’re not just building templates, we’re building whole websites–from the headers to the footers, to everything in between.
Using Site Studio, we can go into our settings and define colors, fonts, everything. Then we get into our component library and our component builder, where we build out components (accordions, tabs, headers, footers). Within the component builder itself, things work like somewhat of a page builder. We place elements into components, which then builds our pages.
Specifically, we input data and media into component forms. That data then gets fed into our “Showcase Component”, which is what you’ll see on an end webpage. It’s doing excel like references, so to speak, where the component forms is the reference cell and that data gets pulled into the Showcase, which dictates what you see on the page.
Is Site Studio more of a development or content-admin tool?
With Site Studio, everything is admin-first; when you make a component you’re building how it looks AND the admin interface, so it’s really going to benefit everyone who uses it.
How does “drag and drop” play into Site Studio and the user interface?
As a builder, I can drag and drop, but what you’re likely referring to is the content admin side of things. As a content admin, I get a library of pre-made components and can build a page by dragging in components. Once the components are in, you can go in and start adding elements into the components, like images. Essentially, as a content admin I can drag and drop pre-made components into the webpage, and using Site Studio, can define styling and complex activity.
What web project roles would find Site Studio most valuable?
My gut instinct is that everyone would find value. Site Studio addresses a common set of problems – the overhead of deployment, code review, all the little things we need to do to build a new component. Site Studio is billed as low code, so we don’t need to do the continuous deployment, code review, testing, and all that; we bypass all the hoops we were jumping through before and we can create for that end user, committing to version control, deploying it to dev, stage and prod, and testing. Cutting out the overhead is the meat and potatoes of what Acquia means when they say you can build sites four times faster than before.
Site Studio also benefits the website for the lifecycle of the website too. It’s not a silver bullet (I mean, we’re still doing all our custom integrations, Site Studio can’t help with that), but it helps the lifetime of the site. It cuts down on initial site and component building, and then makes it much faster for maintenance like creating and editing components. Additionally, for the view layer (rendering & styling data and media), Site Studio can be a go to solution to handle everything!
Is there a size organization or project that benefits most from Site Studio?
I’d say it’s a great tool for any organization or project, big or small, and can be really helpful for anyone from developers to end users. Especially if you can build out a really robust library you can reuse components from another project. This can add immense value if we’re working from one project to another; cutting down on overhead and adding value. It would really benefit any size business or project.
Who are Site Studio’s competitors or what are peer products?
I think you could say that Layout Builder in Drupal 8.8 is a sibling solution and another Drupal tool. It’s part of Drupal core, so it’s not an Acquia product, but it’s quite complementary. I think as Site Studio matures and evolves, it’s going to integrate closer into layout builder, though I wouldn’t say they’re competitors.
I’d say “Gutenberg” might also be a competitor though, but i’m not as familiar with that. Gutenberg integrates in and claims to be a page builder type thing. But my impression is that Site Studio still has an edge in terms of what you can do–I mean you can even do in-site search with low code using Acquia’s Site Studio.
What would you say is the biggest differentiator for Site Studio versus another component library or builder?
I think Site Studio has an edge with “what it can do” with no code. Additionally, Site Studio expedites the process of building a website as a whole too. I guess, ultimately, Site Studio is an all in one solution for varying skill levels. It’s robust, incredibly intuitive, easy (and quick) to adapt to, and it has awesome documentation for folks at all skill levels.
As an experienced site builder, I’d say the video tools & initial sandbox made it easy to ramp up to the learning curve.
I can imagine depending on your role in the site, it could take you a few hours to a few weeks to ramp up to using Site Studio, depending on how dedicated you are. The Acquia team is even publishing new versions of the training videos, and there’s good documentation for all levels.
Is Site Studio tied to any specific systems?
Site Studio is like its own ecosystem, so you don’t necessarily need to extend on it. It is used with Drupal and since it’s created by Acquia it’s really used by Acquia clients.
If you were to pitch Site Studio to me, what would you say?
I’d say Site Studio is a low code site builder, and that it gives you the ability to build faster by solving common overhead problems and encouraging a tight feedback loop (visual updates & maintenance from concept to delivery). It benefits everyone on the project too (from developers to designers to PMs to the end user), and has some really good documentation.
Anything you’d like to see in the next iteration of Site Studio?
I’m no expert, but I’d say the key is to keep building the knowledge!
Zeroheight – a “google document-like” style guide–interactive, collaborative, and easy to integrate
UIkit.cohesiondx.com – a package for getting started with Site Studio components
Northpeak – a website built entirely using Site Studio (complete with functionality such as in-site search–all done with low coding!)
Site Studio documentation – within the Site Studio software are a number of resources for how to get Site Studio up and running, and how to do so