Bacon Tacos, Unicorns and Creative Freedom

Over the coming days I want to share what creative freedom really means to us, and how it relates to everything we do. I'll take you on the quest that started it all, and what has become our enduring mission.

By Jay Stephen Gilmore
June 29, 2012
Bacon Tacos, Unicorns and Creative Freedom

At MODX, we believe the tools and process of communicating on the web should be liberating, unencumbered by geeky assertions of how the web should work. We use “Creative Freedom” as our tagline, and over the coming days I want to share what creative freedom really means to us, and how it relates to everything we do.

Ryan's pet unicorn hard at work fetching bacon tacos

Quest for a Bacon-Taco-Fetching Unicorn

Nearly a decade ago, I began looking for a web content management system (CMS). In my search, I quickly became frustrated with complex theme systems, arbitrarily fixed content blocks, or being forced to use tables for markup when Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and Web Standards were the future of the web.

As an experiment, I refactored osCommerce to output pages using lightweight, semantic markup styled just with CSS, forgoing the use of tables, sliced images and inline styles. This resulted in a ~30% speed boost, and I was sold. Faster sites meant better conversions, happier customers, and outperforming competing sites in search engine ranking, all things being equal.

Speed and SEO aside, I also needed a CMS I could hand over to non-technical clients without worrying about things breaking. If they were capable of filling out a form, they should be able to manage and publish content on the web.

We Built It, and for Once, They Actually Showed Up

Eventually, I gave up searching for a system that was as mythical as a bacon-taco-fetching pet unicorn. So, along with a few other like-minded individuals, we built one that gave us the creative freedom that was missing from the CMS landscape, and we happily shared it with the world.

We had no aspirations of becoming one of the leading open source CMS platforms used by hundreds of thousands of websites, but that’s where we find ourselves today. It took dozens of releases over 7+ years, but we’re happy about where we are now, and eager to share what’s in store.

Now, we’re on a mission to find new ways to give creative freedom to the people that work on the web.