Launching a new Web site
Note: This was one of the final blog posts on the old site. I’ve posted it here because it gives a good sense of the new features on this latest version of the site.
If you’ve been following my blogs for the past few months, you know that I’ve been in the process of converting my Web site from a “regular” (HTML) site to one built in WordPress. Pretty much everything about this experience is different, and much of the past six months or so has been spent figuring out how to get around in this environment. That said, I do have about 300 posts and pages set up on the new site, less than half of what I had on the old one. Those pages are on the way, though likely to show up a couple at a time, as I need to get back to the rest of my life, which I’ve been neglecting as I’ve been putting this new site together
I still have a few things left to do before the new site goes live, but we’re down to details now. I have some SEO data to add to categories and images, background information to help the search engines find these posts. And I need to figure out what I want to say, or show, on my home page.
One other bit of joy ahead: I’m planning on leaving my current Web host for a new one. This involves transferring everything I have constructed for this new site to a different server and then pointing my domain name to the new location. This means my site could be down for a couple of days. Oh, and because all the URLs on this WordPress site are different than the ones on my old site, it also means that when the site goes live, none of the bookmarks people have from the old site will work. (I’ve set up my 404 page error message to give people a place to let me know what they’re looking for.)
Although the old site has served me well, I am really excited about some of the features the new site has to offer:
• New structure: Over the years, I’ve found that the majority of visitors to my site are either educators or parents, with a few people from the general public finding their way there for some of the more generic content. The new site offers a navigation menu with links specific to all three audiences. In addition, each of these links is further broken down by content, with drop-down menus for educators and parents linking to a directory of resources (articles, handouts, blogs, products, podcasts, presentations, and links) addressing behavior, culture, learning, teaching or parenting, and self-care and inspiration.
• New search function: This feature was the deal-maker for me. With as much content on this site, I was starting to have trouble finding articles or links or podcasts I was looking for. Being able to type a word or phrase into the search box on each page should help people locate specific material they’re seeking.
• New category search functions: If you see a theme here, it has to do with my intention of making navigation and finding desired information as seamless and easy as possible. I’ve built this site with as much cross-referencing as possible, so that a particular post might show up in many different places, or searching in many different ways. The addition of categories along the right-hand side of the page gives site visitors another way to find stuff, in this case by specific category. The only drawback is that clicking on a category only displays the most recent entries into that category. (This is why I added the directories to the navigation menus, so that the older items wouldn’t get lost.) Nonetheless, this is another vehicle for searching the site and a gateway to similar or related resources.
• New eStore: My old eCommerce code doesn’t work with the new site. This posed a problem because I needed to find a way to make my resources available for purchase through my site. Fortunately one of the gazillion WordPress plug-ins offered an eStore where people can order books, audio and video resources, and various other products, and support the site as well. Everything will now go through PayPal, either directly through someone’s PayPal account or from a credit card. We will never even see the card number or account information, so this will save a step for us, allowing us to spend our time and energy in order fulfillment and customer service. Nice.
• New layers of security: I’ve signed on with a new Web host and upgraded from a shared hosting plan to one that offers my own custom SSL and IP address for additional security.
• New opportunities for sharing: Each page has a “Share This” link with all the usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, plus dozens more I’d never heard of. I hope people will use this feature liberally to help spread the word about all this site has to offer. Likewise, this new site offers a space for people to share their thoughts, ideas, and experiences in the content section, which will be available on most posts and pages they visit.
I’m anxious to get this new site launched, though as is often the case with transitions, I suspect there will be a few bumps in the road ahead. I am home for the next few weeks, though, and have blocked off time to correct any errors, fix any broken links, and direct inquiries to the new addresses for the old content. Hang in. This new site has been a long time coming. Thanks for coming along!
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