Welcome back! This is the 3rd part of the 4 part series on moving our website to a new hosting company, redesigning the verticalmeasures.com website and integrating this blog linkbuildingbestpractices.com in to the new website so they are all one site.
Last week we talked about why we chose WordPress as the platform for the entire project and we showed you what the raw theme looks like that we are modifying to meet our design and functionality needs. This week I will share some of the specific action items we indentified, problems we encountered and decisions we made to ensure we have a user friendly site and our excellent search engine rank is not negatively affected by all the change. Our hope is that with the new platform and the blog integration we will see better search engine results and PR when the dust clears.
Give your opinion and get some exposure!
First things first…with the exception of a few tweaks here and there we would like to get your feedback on the new design and colors we choose. Although our team is busy updating and revising content we have settled on a color and design and invite you to take a look on the temporary development site. Here is the link: [link removed] Again don’t pay too much attention to the content, just tell us what you think of the design, colors and layout in a comment below. If you suggest something we love and implement we may mention you and/or your business in our 4th and final post next week after the site is live!
Road map to moving the site:
Here are most of the steps we identified so far to accomplish the goal:
- Review current content and decide on what pages will be included on the new site and which ones wont as well as which pages need to be revised.
- Identify the pages that will be considered the main pages available from the primary horizontal navigation
- Patty Adams was given the responsibility of writing new content and updating the old content
- Chose a WordPress “theme” and have the team vote on it
- Set up the new hosting account and install the current version of WordPress
- Add to the database the tables verticalmeasures.com uses so there will only be one database for the entire site
- Install and configure any plug-ins needed for the blog or site
- We used the awesome Xenu Link Sleuth to get a list of all the URL’s from the old site to make sure we dont miss anything. It also shows us any broken links. We’ll be running it against the new site to check for broken links also.
- Add any widgets and widget content to WordPress
- Update the 404 template page with custom content to make it more user friendly for our visitors. We considered Google’s new 404 page helper script but I decided against it because it could take our visitors offsite and it allows Google to change the content of the page at will. Instead I added our site search functionality to the 404 page, a link to our sitemap and a link suggesting they email us for help.
- Forms: We have 2 primary forms on the site. The contact us page and the (now Orange) inquiry form on the right sidebar. Although we could use the cFormsII plugin to quickly and easily add the forms we wanted complete control of everythng from the look and feel to the functionality and user experience so we developed our own forms and processing functionality. In additon we implemented a new free captcha system by Simon Jarvis.
- Design the header graphic for the new site, (we unanimously agreed the old one was outdated) and we didn’t like the color of the default clouds.
- Decide on, purchase and customize the main feature images that fade in and out on the home page. You’ll also notice we went with a straight arrow in the main black feature section versus the half circle that came with the template. That was Arnie’s excellent idea. We think that minor change made a huge improvement to drawing the eye to the messages.
- ORANGE? After much debate our Link Manager Eli (pronounced “L + E”) suggested orange for the Inquiry form. The fact is it’s all over the web lately and we think it works well with the blues. I wont share how many different shades of Orange we tried before picking the current one but it was easily double digits.
- 301 Redirects: This is a BIGGIE…Since many of our pages currently rank very well with the search engines we have to make sure to transfer that link juice to the new site. We have to create a 301 redirect for every page from both sites to the new corresponding page on the new site. All totaled there are about 200. Tedious but critical. We are about halfway done. Once we make the switch we will be testing them also to be sure there are no 404 errors.
- Meta Tags: cant forget the extremely important meta tags! They all had to be transferred from the old pages to the new pages. Kaila Strong handled that task.
There are more steps involved (and I know I am missing some we have done) but that is basically where we are right now so I will save the rest for out final post next week.
Once again I encourage you to click the link above or here: [link removed] to our dev site and give us some feedback via comments below on the new design, layout and colors.
We will be taking the new site live some time in the next 48 hours so wish us luck!