Website Redevelopment

newsletter    After about 6 years I have switched my website development tool from SharePoint Designer to WordPress.  It was time for a change, some of the original pages having been built in Front Page over a decade ago.

The move was inevitable after my hoster switched from ftp to secure ftp. This wasn’t supported by SharePoint Designer so I have to use a lightweight tool to transfer files. The tool CoreFTP worked fine, however the process led to mistakes, was an additional overhead, on top of a difficult tool to begin with, and meant that I had shied away from making too many updates.

WordPressFinally, spurred into action, and after a quick test, I realised how good a solution I could quickly build in WordPress, and the results were clearly superior to the old html site, I took the plunge and spent a few days working on a trial. To do that I installed Microsoft WebMatrix which allowed me to run WordPress locally, meaning that I could get a look and feel, and the general outline of the site before I committed to a build on my hosted domain.

It hasn’t been an easy move. In fact it isn’t a move at all, but a complete redevelopment of the website, so for now I am running the two sites in parallel.

I considered building the new site and then releasing it in a big bang, but I preferred to take an iterative, continuous development approach. The new site is Live, and content is being added as I develop it. You could call this Testing In Production.  However I preview before posting, review when posted, and if there is something wrong I use a Fix on Fail rapid turnaround approach.  ( Management speak for fixing bugs as soon as I find them ! )

This has given me the opportunity to refresh the look of the site, build in new features, and generally restructure things around a blog engine. The new features include; blogging, social networks integration, newer ways to deliver media, use of newer browser features, and hopefully the site looks; cleaner, prettier, and is easier to use.

I am still working out a solution for photos. The standard gallery plug-in has hoster limitations built in. I have tried one highly recommended, and heavily downloaded plug-in, but that slowed the site down to a crawl, so was immediately uninstalled.  One piece of good news is that the default library upload size is 50MB with my hoster, not 2MB.  And because I can ftp into the site I can upload even bigger files, although my upload speed is heavily throttled, to about 60Kb – feels like back to dial-up days – when my connection can upload 250 times faster.

The revision has fixed a few errors with content, but undoubtedly will introduced some new ones !

In the main I have found it much faster to write content, format and publish content. However, the WordPress interface is confusing. It seems like there are 3 different way to do everything, and each has a different context, that means it has slightly different behaviours. This is causing hours of endless pain trying to remember how to get to the exact option I require.  Fortunately there are a lot of good folk out there who have posted helpful videos online.
(Oh, and the Read More tag doesn’t work in Preview Mode. That stumped me for quite a while !)

I am using an approach of compromise. Finding a way to get things done, rather than worrying too much about the root cause of problems, and trying to fix them.

If you have a problem using the site then please feel free to let me know.