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Notice anything different around here? WeRockYourWeb.com is now on WordPress with a new and improved website! (See before picture of the old site to the left). We’ve been working really hard behind the scenes for the past few months migrating our site over from Drupal (where we started in 2006) to WordPress – that’s 8 years worth of content! We made the move for several reasons, most of which include having a more user-friendly experience for you the reader – on your computer and on your mobile devices. Read on to hear more about the experience and stay tuned for more to come on lessons we’ve learned that you might find useful.
Whether you’re a new reader or have been a loyal reader for years, we wanted to point out some of the new features on our site. It includes a more organized content structure, an improved forum and, best of all (drum roll please) a mobile-friendly, responsive site. With the new WordPress Content Management System (CMS), we’ve also upgraded some things on the back-end, including moving to a much faster server, adding a CDN and installing some features like Disqus, a single sign-on commenting platform to make commenting easier than ever. We even added a team page where you can get to know our writers.
With more than 8 years of content on the site, including hundreds of articles and forum topics and thousands of comments, it’s been quite the process to say the least. However, making the decision to migrate our site to WordPress gave us a great opportunity to step back and re-evaluate some bigger, more strategic questions. For example, are our categories and tags relevant and is the content current and still useful. We also wanted to make sure that we are prepared to build our editorial content around what you really want to read and find useful.
It’s also a chance to get our search engine optimizations up to par, like making sure our meta descriptions are well written and our images are optimized. And, let’s not forget that the best SEO is high quality content so we deleted and redirected useless content, updated outdated articles and made sure our i’s were dotted and our t’s crossed (we dare you to find a typo!). Since this website is focused primarily on sharing the best web development and tech tips, tools and tricks, we of all people wanted to make sure we had the best of the best and are passing along those benefits to you, our reader.
Why Did We Migrate to WordPress?
The main reasons we switched from Drupal to WordPress include the following:
- WordPress functionality was more suited to our business as a publishing company (note that for other applications, such as user intensive websites involving the categorization of large amounts of data, Drupal might be a better fit).
- The WordPress backend administrative interface is a lot easier for our writers and editors to use. Keeping the site and various plug-ins updated is a lot more straightforward (a single mouse click in the interface versus an FTP file upload and a lengthy update process in Drupal).
- WordPress powers 20% of all websites on the Internet and therefore has a much larger following and support network. We have switched several sites over to WordPress and have found it easier to obtain custom functionality. WordPress is trending up, while Drupal is trending down (see a Google trends graph of Drupal v. WordPress).
- There is a much larger theme selection on WordPress, and there are more developers capable of creating custom themes.
- Performance: [geek alert!] We had a boosted Varnish setup with Incapsula (CDN) on a VPS for our Drupal sites, and have since moved that to a Cloud Server running W3TC caching plugin + server caching + MaxCDN + CloudFlare, and the response times, page load speed, security, resource savings, and lack of problems with Google indexing minutiae (from an SEO perspective) are an absolute relief and time saver.
Should You Migrate?
There comes a point when you might outgrow or need to switch your Content Management System. Even though there are well-known major players, new platforms are continually coming out on the market to compete and to keep us techies on our toes. Before making the decision to switch, you should consider all the factors because migrating your website can be quite time-consuming and expensive.
Pros and Cons
List out the pros and cons with your current and proposed CMS and walk through these questions carefully:
- Why do you want to make a switch?
- What features do you need/want that you do not have today?
- How would you prioritize these needs and wants?
- What does your current content management system offer (or lack) that would give you reason (or not) to switch?
- What growth and potential changes do you expect for your site down the road that might come in to play?
- Who will be maintaining the website updates and how technical are his/her skills?
- How large is the support community around your existing vs your new CMS? Is demand for the CMS trending up or down?
- When do you need your updates made? (if you need a quick change, it is likely there is a faster solution on your current platform but it may come with other sacrifices).
If you find a compelling reason and a CMS that’s a better fit, then you’ll know it’s time to make the switch. However, if you are just looking for a cooler looking site, there may be a simpler way to implement a new website design without all the hassle. For example, if your CMS theme selection is lacking, try to find a developer that specializes in your CMS to create a theme for you. Most developers should be able to turn any graphic design into a workable website theme.
How do you Migrate a Website?
Be forewarned, no matter how much content you have, migration requires lots of time, skills and patience. There are several different ways you can go about migrating a site. You can use an online service, hire a developer or company to do it for you, or you can do it yourself. We used a combination of the three but mostly the latter. Since we are web gurus already and have experience in this area, we felt confident our team could handle it. However, there are lots of moving parts and pieces so make sure you have plenty of help you can count on to communicate and work effectively. If you are less web savvy, don’t have time or don’t feel comfortable, we recommend finding a developer or service that will help migrate your site for you.
Don’t Forget to Redirect Your Pages!
Since most websites rely on traffic from a major search engine such as Google, one of the most important things that gets overlooked often is the redirecting of your existing pages. The last thing you want is to lose years of hard earned traffic when you migrate to your shiny new platform! Hire and SEO expert to do this for you, or read our article on search engine friendly redirects for the technical details.
The End Result
Only time will tell whether the search engines and our users find the migration a success. But, we believe that in doing the right thing for our readers and staying ahead of the trends we will ultimately come out on top and be rewarded for being a valuable resource. We hope you agree and enjoy our upgraded site as much as we do! We’re pretty excited about the new upgrades and look forward to getting back to business to bring you the latest tech reviews, news and solutions. Now let’s continue to rock the web, shall we?