Redesigning my Web site – 2006

I’ve “reloaded” my Web site, as indicated by the subtitle in the header. I’ve adopted WordPress as my primary content management system (CMS) and blogging tool, and have taken out a number of pages and elements. It’s a work in progress, but I’ve dedicated some time to this project.

As with any project, there is always a list of up-front work that must be done before jumping in and just doing it. And implementing the work also requires following a plan of attack (typically called a project plan). Even though this is a personal Web site, even I approached this using the project management skills that I developed during my time in my current position.

I first started by reviewing how I could use WordPress 2 for blogging and as a CMS. I ran it in a special folder within the former site, mostly for blogging. The features that I sought included a simple blogging system, a scalable CMS, open standards that are easy to learn, flexibility so I could customize the look and feel as I saw fit, and a community of developers that provide plugins and support. I also wanted to get away from using expensive HTML/Web editing software, such as Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia/Adobe Dreamweaver. After evaluating a number of open source systems, I chose WordPress becuase of its simple, PHP-driven architecture. Plus, there is a large community of WordPress users and developers that have contributed their efforts into making it easy to add functionality (in the form of plug-ins and themes). After evaluating it for a few months, I’ve decided to adopt WordPress for the new site.

The next step was to determine if I could update the code so it had a similar look and feel to my old site. However, other issues arose with my former Web host that necessitated me to move my domain to a new host. Unfortunately, I didn’t maintain the old pages or the old page format. However, I do have most of the content stored on my computer. Although I had to spend some time migrating the information after putting the new system into production (that is, making it go live), the data were there and available to migrate.

To date, all of the blog and “soapbox” articles are now on this site. But some links to previous pages and other Web articles were no longer available, so I had to indicate that. I also imported some pictures, but I only have a few available (those that are part of the blog posts). Finally, I had to make it all fit into the category structure. That alone took some time, seeing how my site has evolved from updates for a day to writing about specific topics. After reviewing everything that I’ve written over the past six years, I guess my life isn’t that boring afterall.

I’ve also continued making small tweaks to the layout of the site. Unless I decide to reformat the look and feel, I plan on keeping the site’s format in its current state. There are a number of plugins available for functionality as well, and I will evaluate those if I feel compelled to add them.

My next steps are to continue migrating information from the previous site to this one. I also have a number of pages that can be added. Reworking and rewriting these will take some time. However, now that I have comments open, I am willing to listen to others’ suggestions. Just remember, though, that I am not a programmer; adding content is one thing, but adding functionality will take me some time (thank the developers for plugins). The end goal is to continue making this site a useful one as well as a means for me to keep my family and friends in the loop.

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