Remaking Joy of WP – My Process For Re-designing And Redeveloping This Web Site
I’m taking my first steps to remake virtually every aspect of this site. It’s an ambitious project. I know where I am going but not 100% sure how I will get there. I’m keeping an open mind on my process. I surely do not – as of yet – have all the skills I will need to get the job done. But every good project I’ve ever done – be it for clients or myself – always contained elements I was unfamiliar with in the beginning.
I’m not afraid to learn new things. In fact, it’s what I live for.
My re-design will be like rebuilding an airplane while in flight. This could get ugly, even dangerous. Why do I need to do it this way?
My site is active and the database is changing all the time with newly registered users utilizing my site. If I were to take it offline and then re-launch a revised site, all user data would be lost while the site was offline. I can’t do that.
Alternatively, I could put this site in Maintenance Mode, but then people would not have access to my WordPress videos and other content. I don’t know how long it would have to be in Maintenance Mode, so I can’t do that. (As it is, I may have to put the site in Maintenance Mode, but only for a few hours at a time).
Knowing what's ahead, I expect the overhaul to take at least 6 months, if not up to one year.
The site has become dated in its style and how it is managed. I can't grow it and my business as this site is presently constituted.
I've reached a dead end using the Genesis theme Elevate which has been customized so often that it hardly looks or functions as it was designed to do. Plus, I'm still using the Classic Editor which is slowing me down as to how I want to develop content in the future. I'm losing interest in writing my content in HTML when there are block editors such as Gutenberg, Elementor, and others to speed up the process and give me lots of options.
The site also has about 60 plugins which is far too many to manage and, cumulatively, degrade the site's performance. Many of these are single purpose plugins like Icegram (for a top bar) and Popup Maker (which I hardly use).
I'm going to go with what I know, and what I'm learning, and what I feel will be as future-proof as possible.
I will be using GeneratePress, the well-known and highly regarded theme developed by Tom Osborne. His premium extensions have all the fundamental aspects a good theme should have. It's very flexible and I've used it on a number of projects. I may never use anything but GeneratePress again for any project.
While I'll be removing the Classic Editor - thereby making Gutenberg the default page editor - I won't be using Gutenberg. Rather, I will use Elementor and Elementor Pro, both of which I am beginning to master while working on a client project that started this summer. I first saw Elementor in its infancy about 5 years ago. I used it for a project and the client loved the results. Since then, Elementor has evolved into a Web Design System with its Theme Builder elements of a page (such as Header, Footer, and Sidebar), and not just the Content Area.
With its Pro features, Elementor seems to have all the aspects I need to make and manage a great and useful site. Because it is loaded with many widely used widgets (those are blocks in Gutenberg speak), I can cut down on the number of single purpose plugins I need.
Elementor is not nirvana. It spins off a ton of HTML. I would have found this unacceptable a few years ago. But in exchange, it can do what no WordPress page builder can do now or in the foreseeable future. In fact, Gutenberg has quite a ways to go to be the tool that Elementor is now. I just can't wait for Gutenberg to grow up (which I know it will). Elementor is here to stay. It has a huge supporting ecosystem that I can tap into.
I'm currently struggling with how I will go about retiring old design and introducing new design and features. It's true you can't rebuild an airplane in flight but think of every airport you've ever been in that was undergoing major renovations. During the renovation the functional aspects of the airport had to remain intact while the redesign was done. Think LaGuardia which was an old airport but is now totally remade. That's the kind of thing I am about to undertake.
I will probably wait until I have most, if not all, of the new site complete (or at least in an acceptable state) before I introduce 3 new content components to the site. They are:
This will be a group of videos that will make up a third module in the How To WordPress course. It will be free like the other two course modules - Using Gutenberg and WordPress Potpourri.
Gravity Forms 101
I've been wanting to do this online class for years. There will be a one time payment. The course will include access to high quality videos showing you how to create any kind of form for your site and how to leverage what Gravity Forms has to offer. Gravity Forms is the number one WordPress forms plugin for good reason.
I want to build the definitive WP Glossary for site owners and creators. I've never been happy with what is out there now and I am well suited to do this project. Some of the terms that will be in my glossary are:
- API Key
- Classic Editor
- Child Theme
- Custom Post Type
- Customize (aka The Customizer)
- Full Stack Developer
- Landing Page
- Lazy Loading
- Mega Menu
- Meta Box
- Site Map
- Top Bar (Hello Bar)
- User Interface (UI)
- User Role
- WP Admin
- WordPress Core
It will be geared for people new to WP who need to build their vocabulary of WordPress and web design terminology so they can describe and understand things they need for their sites.
Each term will have a text description accompanied with videos, screenshots, and/or artwork. Whatever is necessary to help people understand WP vocabulary. If I'm lucky, I'll get a few contributors to help me build this out.
I'd like to cross reference the terms. Perhaps I'll build this as a wiki.
Oh, How Could I Forget?
I will need to re-record all the videos in the WP A To Z Series as, while they're still instructive, they've also become dated.
Soon It Begins
Once I get underway, I will clearly indicate what is going on with the site ("Pardon My Appearance") and what stage of its redevelopment I am in. There will be a Changelog, and hopefully my journey will provide insight to you if you are thinking about a major site upgrade.
What About You
Have you ever undergone a major site overhaul? What hurdles did you have to jump over? How long did it take? Or are you thinking about an overhaul now?
Please leave your reply below.