Site Redesign Pre-Launch

SO… Welcome to the new design! Well, sort of.. What you’re seeing now is the “Quantify Theme”, a new WordPress theme designed for the technical/web-design writer with an eye for detail. This theme serves as the starting point for the new Perishable Press redesign and site overhaul. I was going to keep everything private during development, but the strangest things can happen..

The original plan

The original plan was as follows:

  1. Build new Quantify theme
  2. Release Quantify at DigWP.com
  3. Privately customize/develop Quantify for the new Perishable Press design
  4. Finish the site overhaul/redesign and launch publicly

Unfortunately, the existing structure of the site requires a bit of htaccess & PHP trickery to get everything working as desired. Instead of trying to update the labyrinthine maze of themes, plugins, mods, & hacks, it seemed better to just archive the old site and start fresh with a brand new installation of WordPress. It sounded too easy..

Subdirectories & WordPress

The WordPress installation running the “old” Perishable Press is located in a subdirectory named /press/. It’s an old version of WordPress that is running 20+ plugins & 20+ alternate themes, and has been modified & customized beyond recognition. The thought of upgrading that old subdirectory install is a scary, scary thing. So that /press/ subdirectory is now considered a closed archive that will remain online “as-is” – with all of the themes, examples and content available indefinitely.

Moving forward, I wanted to liberate myself from the burden of so many plugins, themes, and custom hacks. So I’m completely starting fresh with a new installation of WordPress, which is now located in a subdirectory named /perish/. So now the perishablepress.com domain employs the following structure:

http://perishablepress.com/press/      - archived old site
http://perishablepress.com/perish/     - new site

During development, everything was working fine with this setup. The home page was the only thing that required some engineering to ensure that everyone was seeing what they were supposed to be seeing; everything else was in place and working great. But for that root index.php file that served as the home page, I needed to account for the following scenarios:

  • During development, serve the new WP install for my IP address
  • During development, serve the old WP install for everyone else

Then, after development, everyone gets the new stuff on the home page. Everything was working great with this plan until I noticed that my traffic had suddenly took a nosedive a couple days after implementing the IP-detection/redirection. At first I could not figure out why traffic took such a sudden nosedive. It just didn’t occur to me that Google might actually penalize my trusty, well-established domain for something as trivial as this:

if ($_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'] == '74.82.230.76') {
	define('WP_USE_THEMES', true);
	require_once("./perish/wp-blog-header.php");
} else {
	define('WP_USE_THEMES', true);
	require_once("./press/wp-blog-header.php");
}

Apparently, Google considers that type of logic “cloaking”, which is typically associated with black-hat SEO shenaniganz. Although I was using my PHP powers for good, Google considers it evil and will deliver swift punishment.

The new & modified plan

And that brings us to why you’re reading this in the first place. Thanks to Google’s hypersensitive paranoia, I needed to remove that IP-detection asap and make Google love my site again. So I’ve been literally scrambling behind the scenes trying to get the Quantify theme finished and rolled out. Honestly, the theme isn’t yet complete, but it’s close enough that nobody should notice me fine-tuning and tweaking the details.

Thanks to Google, the new plan is as follows:

  1. Build new Quantify theme
  2. Release Quantify at DigWP.com
  3. Publicly customize/develop Quantify for the new Perishable Press design
  4. Finish the site overhaul/redesign and announce publicly

The new Quantify theme will be available at Digging into WordPress soon. And, for the next week or so, Quantify will be customized specifically for the New Perishable Press, on which I’ll elaborate in an upcoming post.

Until then

I know there are easier ways of developing a site, but the constraining variables for this site leave me with few options. I’ve got much planned for the future, and am working as quickly as possible to make it all happen. Until then, thanks for your patience and please contact me if something just completely breaks or doesn’t work. That shouldn’t happen, but you never know..