Perishable Press Site Renovation Strategy

Now that my recent site overhaul project is nearly complete, I thought it would be useful to share my carefully developed “plan of attack.” The following seven-step strategy is designed to facilitate the entire renovation by logically ordering events and breaking down complex tasks. Upon execution, the following plan is designed to improve overall site functionality, presentation and structure, while factoring in several critical parameters:

  • Modular time organization — due to my hectic schedule, it is necessary to break large projects down into manageable chunks.
  • Separation of main site from test site — I need a clear distinction between Perishable Press and my many test blogs, pages, and projects.
  • Separation of main content from tangential content — distinguishing between main content and other material (e.g., private content, FTP files, etc.) is critical.
  • Facilitation of future WordPress upgrades — keeping up with WordPress is important. Before the site overhaul, upgrading was nearly impossible. In fact, the primary thrust of this site makeover is aimed at making it easier to stay current with WordPress.

Thus far, adhering to this plan has helped to eliminate confusion by simplifying an otherwise convoluted project. With this plan firmly in mind, stepping through the entire process happened in a clear, nearly mechanical fashion. Without a doubt, being prepared provided an expediency and thoroughness that would have otherwise remained elusive. Is this the “perfect” plan for renovating a rather large, preexisting site? Probably not. Will you learn something about preparing for and executing WordPress and other site upgrades by reading it? Probably. I suppose, in any case, that even if readers find the proceeding plan all but useless, posting it online is great for prosperity and may even serve useful as future reference material. So, without further ado, here is an outline of the activity recently unfolding behind the scenes here at Perishable Press.

Phase I: [ Create & Configure Test Site ]

  1. Synchronize local files & server files, backup all files & databases
  2. Create “Perishable Labs” subdomain @ http://labs.perishablepress.com/
  3. Duplicate & configure WordPress 2.0.5 Legacy Site on Labs (restrict access via htaccess)
  4. Install & configure WordPress 2.1.3 on Labs (allow access via htaccess)
  5. Install & configure WordPress 2.3.1 on Labs (restrict access via htaccess)
  6. Upload and activate plugins and themes for each test blog
  7. Configure and troubleshoot plugins and themes
  8. Populate non-legacy blogs (2.1 & 2.3) with content
  9. Enable theme selections for WordPress 2.1.3 blog
  10. Check everything, delete junk files, backup data

Phase II: [ Relocate Private Directory ]

  1. Create “Private” subdomain: http://private.perishablepress.com/
  2. Relocate Offline Library and other secure files to Private subdomain
  3. Scour database and file content for associated links and relink to new location
  4. Eliminate duplicate and/or unnecessary files and other content from Private subdomain
  5. Update htaccess password, associate with new directory
  6. Check everything and backup data

Phase III: [ Transfer Directory ]

  1. Create “Transfer” subdomain: http://transfer.perishablepress.com/
  2. Relocate FTP transfer directory to Transfer subdomain
  3. Scour database and file content for associated links and relink to new location
  4. Eliminate duplicate and/or unnecessary files and other content from Transfer subdomain
  5. Update htaccess password, associate with new directory
  6. Check everything and backup data

Phase IV: [ Intermission: Testing & Clean-up ]

  1. Synchronize local files & server files, backup all files & databases
  2. Ensure Perishable Press theme compatibility on WordPress-2.1.3 test site (Labs)
  3. Scour database & file content for all theme links (i.e., /?theme=Perishable) and relink to WP 2.1.3 on Labs
  4. Remove any necessary files from old, deprecated test blogs (i.e., /perish/ & /wp23test/)
  5. Delete deprecated directories and associated databases
  6. Check and repair any dead pages, links, and/or files
  7. Update and synchronize passwords (htaccess & WordPress)
  8. Check and remove .shtml error pages

Phase V: [ Preparation for WordPress-2.3.1 Upgrade ]

  1. Synchronize local files & server files, backup all files & databases
  2. Determine which plugins to eliminate and which to keep for after 2.3 upgrade
  3. Research all plugins to be used with WP 2.3
  4. Prepare plugins that are only compatible with WP 2.3
  5. Consolidate internal/external JavaScript files, image files, CSS files, etc.
  6. Relocate/consolidate all “loose” files from site root and blog root directories
  7. Prepare new Perishable theme via Labs and install on main site
  8. Locally select new Perishable theme and refine via post content
  9. Relocate & consolidate all image files (edit posts, themes, etc.)
  10. Remove all links to alternate themes (check that all theme links point to theme on Labs site)
  11. Remove all themes except current theme (Optimized) and new theme (Perishable) from main site
  12. Deactivate & eliminate all unnecessary plugins (i.e., required by removed alternate themes)
  13. Verify proper functionality of both themes, verify content, double-check everything, etc.

Phase VI: [ Upgrade from WordPress 2.0.5 to WordPress 2.3.1 ]

  1. Synchronize local files & server files, backup all files & databases
  2. Check for latest version of WordPress (well, what do you know — WP 2.3.1 just released!)
  3. Inform readers/visitors of site overhaul, post “upgrade in progress” article
  4. Switch default theme to Perishable, deactivate plugins not needed for new theme
  5. Setup/implement htaccess redirect to temporary “maintenance” page
  6. Upload, activate, and configure WordPress 2.3.1
  7. Activate plugins, set default theme
  8. Install new and upgraded plugins required by WordPress 2.3.1
  9. Troubleshoot, test, check, etc.
  10. Resolve any errors (Sounds easy, right? This step required more time than all others)
  11. Import UTW tags to WordPress
  12. Avoid as many plugin edits and WordPress core edits as possible
  13. Praise the Lord if you get this far ;)

Phase VII: [ Aftermath & Moving Forward ]

  1. Update and streamline Perishable Press alternate themes via Labs site
  2. Reinstall new, generalized versions of alternate themes on main Press site
  3. Link to newly available alternate themes, (re)enable site customization
  4. Pimp test blogs on Labs subdomain
  5. Find/fix all dead external links
  6. Ensure all feed links are local
  7. Tag management: consolidate/optimize tags
  8. Close comments on old and/or obscure posts
  9. Check comment links, optimize comments
  10. Authenticate posts
  11. Relocate more tags
  12. Optimize meta titles
  13. Optimize meta keywords
  14. Optimize meta description
  15. Incorporate Lightbox attributes

As mentioned, I am still in the process of completing this project. Currently, I am working within the Admin area of WordPress 2.3.1 while executing the tasks outlined in the final phase (Phase VII) of the plan. Unfortunately, the process of authenticating posts, optimizing meta content, and incorporating Lightbox attributes is quite tedious because each post must be edited individually. Nonetheless, I am making progress with the final phase, and look forward to reaping the fruits of my labor.