I”m sure you’ve heard the adage, “A cobbler’s children have no shoes.”
That has pretty much summed up the condition of this web site for the past couple of years. In focusing on other projects, both for clients and our own, this site has been allowed to coast.
When someone asked, “Do you have a web site?” Well, of course, but it was so out-of-date, I hated to send people to it.
When a new client asked, “Do you have examples of work you’ve done?” I had to literally send links because I hadn’t updated the site portfolio in so long.
Making the Decision to Upgrade
Part of the issue was I wanted to redesign and upgrade the site all at once. During the time I was considering the update, Joomla (which the base site is on) was going through a series of updates. The major updates usually require some editing to the site template, so I wanted to wait until that settled.
Also, as I have mentioned previously, the biggest issue with migrating a Joomla site through a major update is not the content and the core system itself. That is usually fairly easy. Where it gets hairy is all the add on components and plugins. The time consuming part is looking through all of the existing add ons you are using and checking to see if they are compatible with the new Joomla core as well as with each other. If not, a new solution has to be found.
The second issue was deciding how to accommodate mobile devices. Now responsive designs are the accepted standard; however, even as late as 2012 Google was recommending a separate subdomain for mobile. It wasn’t until 2013 that responsive gained wide acceptance..
Beyond platform and mobile considerations, I went back and forth on the look I wanted to move to. I actually liked the previous design, it was just starting to look dated. I actually design two other layouts that were never launched. The first one was based off the design of this tri-fold display that I really liked.
The next design, looked like this (the press release package page is based off the design as well.)
That design was actually implemented on a development server and very close to going live when I changed my mind.
A lot of marketing is visual; however, what it a message boils down to is words. Words are black and white and that is the direction I decided to take the site.
So this layout was designed. The main company site on Joomla was upgrade and a theme for the blog, on WordPress, was created as well. It was ready to go aside from a couple of content additions. This was November 2012.
Then time outside of that dedicated to client projects got consumed and it sat.
A Look Back
Redesigns are a Process
If you have a web site that you’ve always had on a particular platform, such as WordPress, where you’ve never changed the content structure and changing the design is truly as simple as uploading a new theme . . . count yourself blessed.
I’ve done numerous redesigns for clients, a redesign is a completely different process than developing a new site. There are a different set of considerations . . . they are apples and oranges
The other thing that had me dragging my feet was knowing that I really needed to do a complete overhaul. I cleaned out the server, moving all those left over client demos and test script installs to another domain. I restructured content, got rid of areas that distracted focus and redirected all the old urls to the new.
The clean up took as much time as the redesign and migrations.
While I was at it, I changed the url structure on the blog posts to include the category rather than just the post name. I know some people don’t feel that is necessary; however, I went to a conference that gave a very persuasive argument for it. From personal experience, the sites that I have that utilize categories have held their rankings and maintained traffic volume in spite of al the antics of Google’s zoo.
So while I was at it, I changed the structure and redirected all of those urls as well.
Now the site is ready to serve as a focal point for some projects in the works. I hope you like our “new shoes.”
If you come across a url or link that I missed, please drop me a note. What are your experiences with a major site overhaul?