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Heaven Scent Bliss

Building of Heaven Scent Bliss

Last updated on July 5th, 2017 at 01:07 am

Visit the site: Heaven Scent Bliss

This site already exists so the contents were already there. But there were shortcomings:

  • It was not mobile/tablet friendly
  • The text was too small and difficult to read
  • Many elements on the pages were visually jarring
  • It used PHP scripting mixed with a WordPress blog – hard to maintain
  • The shop section was no longer relevant
  • SEO was not easy due to bits being cobbled together

So our design/development task was to rationalise the site into one that was self-contained.

WordPress and Bootstrap

It is funny how a new site evolves and developers of many years experience have the uncanny knack to pick the right theme.

bootstrapA local staging environment was set up. A very simple Bootstrap-based theme was chosen after trying out a few favourite ones.

Now a lot of WordPress themes tend to be “boxy”, “samey” corporate look ones which was not in keeping with the essence of this site. So we set about massively rewriting the CSS through the child theme to get in gradients soft colours. The header was designed from scratch to incorporate fonts, images and logos that gave continuity from the old site. The front page was rationalised to make it easier on the eye and also to help search engines understand the site structure. The old menu was a real higgledy piggledy mash of links that just extended the width of the page. The new menu was re-designed to be logical with drop-down sections to make it more compact.

image_testimonialsOne of the challenges was to transfer the testimonials to the new site. This business had testimonials from 2007 to the present day with around 100 entries per year. The easiest but not elegant way would be to have a page for each year. This would give nine pages just for testimonials with a corresponding awkward menu structure. Bootstrap came to the rescue and its “panel” allowed the use of just two pages with a tab/pill on each page to select the year.

The Bootstrap tab/pill was also a boon for the book-list and course listings. And with WordPress, a blog section was a cinch to create.

Infrastructure

The old site was on a basic 123-reg hosting account which was very clumsy to navigate as it did not use a cPanel or other standard interface. It had its own clunky system which was so slow, it was a pain to use. The site response to the visitor though was slow but not crawling like some cheap shared hosting.

ddos-attack-protectionHowever we had a premium reseller cloud hosting from a highly respected company (we’ve tried many in the UK and the US). They were just in the process of adding Arbour DDOS protection which is becoming an essential if expensive “must” for all host. Their customer support was also speedy and usually usually resolves problems within 24 hours.

So the first task was to download the files from the old server for the non-blog part of the site. FTP is the choice here of course, but due to the bolt on bits, we also used WinHTTrack to pull out some of the files not on the main structure. And for the blog, we used a WordPress plugin (Duplicator).

The new site was then built on the local staging environment. At a point in the build, certain parts of the site could not be tested on the local staging so another staging environment was set up on the reseller account with the TLD changed. It was also important to password protect this site as it was not yet fully hardened to attacks at this point. Potential duplicate-content issues are also prevented by the password protection. This hosted staging site would also give the customer a “feel” of the new site that image mock-ups could not.

Launch

Website-launch-blogThen launch date was suddenly upon us! This was done in the early hours of the morning as the previous site was quite busy and we wanted to minimise the disruption. This was a sleep-free night as a few hiccups had to be ironed out. This was due to WordPress’s arcane url setting when domain names change. But these were just minor issues.

The major headache was changing the mail system to the new hosts. The previous mail server had 1.5 GB of inbox content and about the same in the sent folder. We set up a local IMAP client to download all the mail which took a fair while as 123-reg mail servers were painfully slow. Then we set up another account in the local mail client connected to the new host’s IMAP system. Then we transferred the mail locally between the two accounts.

high-fiveIf you are going to be doing something similar, do not use Mozilla’s Thunderbird client as it is not up to the job. We initially tried Thunderbird but had to change to EmailClient (em Client) which did the job admirably.

The launch was publicised through social media and newsletters and then we could all have a quick rest!

NB Many extra behind-the-scenes work has been left out of this post, including plugin testing and setting up, fine tuning the responsiveness for different view-ports (mobiles and tablets), speed testing for different CSS and Javascript schemes and loading the site through a content delivery network.

 

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