A brand new site in 8 hours
Friday, October 23rd, 2009 at 10:53 pm
Three days ago I became the webmaster of the Waverley Camera Club. Tonight I rolled out a brand new site that combined the existing static content with existing posts from an external blogspot blog.
Around about 8 hours of effort. Most of that was working my way through the migrated posts to both sort out better categories and to remove garbage markup that screwed up the rendering.
I also hadn’t planned to release the site so soon, but my testing/experimentation was going so well that it would have been a shame not do.
By using WordPress and making the decision that I would just assemble the pieces, I avoid writing code.
I chose WordPress for two reasons. One is that I am familiar with it and two that I knew it would be suitable for what we need the site to do at the moment. In the future I know it won’t be suitable if we proceed with some of the ideas that have been talked about.
Once I knew I would be using the latest version of WordPress my next decision to make would be how the site looked. To avoid the hassle of designing and then building a theme, I turned to the Free WordPress Themes directory. I wasn’t there for long as there were a couple of possibilities in the featured themes list. After running them by another committee member I decided to go with Pixel. The deciding factor was the info box at the top of the sidebar where we could put the club’s logo.
It was at this point that I started the largest task: importing the existing posts from blogspot. That specific task was easy using the import tool. What took time was going through each of the 140 posts to set a new category and to check that the post would render. I couldn’t believe how much crap had been added by blogspot. The biggest issue was badly nested divs, but second to that was the apparent random application of fonts and colours.
In the midst of this work I also played around with the widgets to customise what was in the sidebar and footer. It was only once there was content that widgets such as recent posts would make sense. This also allowed me to add the credit to the footer which is part of the conditions of the free hosting for non-profits. If it weren’t for the widgets my approach would have been to edit the theme.
But that isn’t to say that I have not modified the theme. Although the theme was working quite nicely, there were a couple of niggles. One was that in the header the tag line was too dark to be read, and another was that an empty box was showing below posts that would contain tags, if we were going to use them.
A while ago I read about WordPress theme inheritance where you can selectively override parts of another theme. So that’s what I did and my only changes were two CSS statements, one to change the text colour and another to hide the tag box. I later added a 404.php to give a slightly better not found page.
And that’s mostly it, except for some additional plugins that are quite nice to have:
- Akismet – although included by default, it needs an API key to function
- Google Analyticator – to easily add in Google Analytics code
- Google XML Sitemaps – for better search indexing
- WordPress Mobile Edition – to get a easier interface for mobile users
- CMS Post Control – to turn off autosave that always screws up on me
- Super Cache – for performance
Of course there is still content to migrate from the old site and it hasn’t yet had any real use. But that is for later.