University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Several of us are currently migrating sites from various CMS's to WordPress. Let's use this discussion thread to share our tips and experiences with WordPress at the departmental and institutional level. (Thanks to Hillary and Steve for kicking off this discussion!)

Views: 597

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hello! Thanks for setting this up. So, what were the first steps you took in the migration process? Was your WP site built in-house or through an outside development firm?

We're in a fairly unique position as an affiliate university with only 1200 students, so our migration experience is probably most comparable to migrating a departmental site at a larger institution.

Currently we have a static HTML web site, putting us in the approximately 5% of institutions with no CMS. From a migration standpoint this is ideal, as it will simplify the process considerably as compared to a move from a proprietary CMS to WordPress.

Our overall plan is to migrate section-by-section and site-by-site through the coming fall and winter, beginning with the Intranet and several selected sub-sites.

We are handling most of the project in-house, though we did use an external agency for a design comp of the new home page as part of an overall visual identity refresh that also included print and signage.

Currently we are developing what I consider our 'prototype theme' in-house, with the option of deploying it into production after some refinement and testing, or of contracting the final theme development out to a local WordPress shop. We'll make that decision in the early fall.

In order to systematize development, and take advantage of best practices that are already cooked into the code, we are developing using Zurb Foundation 4 (http://foundation.zurb.com/), first as a pure HTML5/CSS3 template, and then in WordPress, possibly using Foundation for WordPress (http://fwp.drewsymo.com/) or a similar starter theme. Again the idea is to 'stand on the shoulders of giants', rather than reinventing WordPress theming in-house.

I'll be glad to share experiences as we go forward here on the thread! I'm sure there will be some pivots along the way, and much sharable learning.

This is excellent. Thank you for sharing. Since I'm so new here I don't know what's down the road, as yet, so I'm just exploring what others have gone through and done. There are some great college/university WordPress sites I've been looking at for ideas for templates/themes, plugins, etc. I found this: http://www.wpbeginner.com/showcase/17-popular-universities-that-are... and have been browsing through the pages created, but I haven't found any information on whether they built the templates, etc., themselves or outsourced.

First we completed a full content audit and determined what kind of content types we had.  Based on the content types we created several custom post types (Fields of Study, Courses, People, Profiles, Department Highlights) and associated taxonomies and metadata.

Once we knew what content types we had and completed our information architecture and wireframing it was a pretty fluid transition to building the themes and modules for displaying that content.

We also made a list of desired functionality and determined if a plugin was needed, if so does that plugin already exist, or is it better to build in house.  We wanted to limit our dependency on external plugins as much as possible.

Hi Cara -- Thanks for bringing your expertise and experience to the discussion! When developing custom post types, do you code the types directly, or use Types and Views, Custom Post Type UI, or some other plugin to create and manage types? (For those new to WordPress, post types are introduced here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Post_Types)

Daniel - I use Easy Content Types (http://pippinsplugins.com/easy-content-types/) in my local environment as a code generator.  There's a great export code feature.  Then I can further optimize and customize the code and bundle as I see fit. Some as standalone plugins, some bundled as plugins with additional custom widgets, some as network activated plugin.

From all the custom post type plugins I've reviewed, I've found this one to have the cleanest and most reusable code for my needs.  I basically use it like a framework. It was worth the $30.

Oh, this is excellent. Thank you, Cara! Was your site completely developed in-house or was any of it outsourced (design, coding, etc.)? Good point about limiting dependency on external plugins. What is your backup and update maintenance plan like? Knowing how much WP updates itself, plugins, etc., how are you set up for that?

Hillary - We did everything in house including server configuration, design, coding, content editing/migration.  We're a small team; there's only five of us: the director, an art director/designer,  a writer/editor, a web content editor, and a developer (that's me), but Wordpress is so flexible and quick to iterate that it was something we were committed to do.  The bulk of the work comes up front with the building of the themes and plugins, but once you have that migrating sites happens rapidly because everything is reusable.

As for backup and update maintenance, here's the protocol I have set up.

Backups

  • I use the plugin Snapshots (http://premium.wpmudev.org/project/snapshot/). You can purchase single plugins, but I recommend purchasing a subscription to wpmudev.  If I have to use an external plugin, I try to use one of theirs.  They have excellent support and they guarantee compatibility. It's one less thing I have to worry about, and if you decide to cancel your membership at any point you still get to keep and use any plugin you've installed.
  • For each site within the network, I run a daily backup of the database, and a weekly backup of the media/upload files
  • Themes and plugins are backed up bi-weekly
  • Core files are backed up weekly.
  • I keep a copy of the most recent backup on the server and 3 months worth in our Dropbox (the plugin automates this process)

Upgrades

Every 6 weeks, I do what I call our website health checklist

  • I upgrade the core, plugins, and themes.  I do this in a staging environment first to make sure nothing breaks before I do it in the production environment.
  • Run a 404 check (broken links) using Integrity (http://peacockmedia.co.uk/integrity/) and fix those links
  • Check Google Search Appliance search queries and promote links as necessary
  • Check Google Webmaster Tools for any messages
  • Delete old backup files from Dropbox
  • Run and analyze Google Analytics reports for content strategy
  • Review the Apache and PHP server logs for warnings and errors

Of course if there is a security upgrade release, I do those as soon as possible.

Source Control

  • I use Git to source control our code.  

You are awesome! Thank you for sharing all of this. I just met with our communications team and we're going to begin a content audit. I'm waiting to hear if there are set content types and categories already in place or if we can create what we need. It's fantastic that you developed in-house.

Hi, I'm the web developer for Johns Hopkins School of Arts & Sciences and have been a Wordpress developer for over 5 years.  We are currently in the process of moving all of our sites from Site Executive to Wordpress.  We have a network installation and have migrated 16 of our sites thus far.  We've built everything in house including 6 custom themes and many custom plugins. 

http://krieger.jhu.edu

Wow! Beautiful site. And quite a difference from the main JH site.

I wanted to add that the last college I worked at used Site Executive. I'm going to pass on your messages to them (and site URL) for when they begin to consider future upgrades.

RSS

Elsewhere

Latest Activity

Dan Bashaw left a comment for Julie Fradette
"Hi Julie -- I had no idea we could friend people here! :)"
5 minutes ago
Mark Mazelin replied to Mark Mazelin's discussion Website Translation Services
"Thanks Dan--this is helpful. As we evaluate options, I'll let you know if we'd like to pursue the SocialChine route. --Mark"
yesterday
Dan Bashaw replied to Mark Mazelin's discussion Website Translation Services
"Given a relatively small volume of pages, it is probably best to handle this manually, ensuring that your workflow triggers a translation when the English version of the page changes. With this approach you can use either local translators, or…"
yesterday
Profile IconBen L., John Nathan Parker and Jeffrey Green joined University Web Developers
Friday
Mark Mazelin posted a discussion

Website Translation Services

I've been tasked with getting some of our website translated into Spanish and Chinese. We had some pages translated into Spanish several years ago, but since multi-lingual was not part of our workflow, the content on those pages quickly became out-of-date and were just recently removed from the site.Do any of you have pages translated to other languages? Do you use a 3rd-party service to do it, or someone on campus with those skills? Or an automated service like Google translate?For those of…See More
Friday
Michelle L. Monti replied to Michelle L. Monti's discussion Questioning the Value of College Holiday Videos
"Thanks for responding, Erik! I agree and like your point about it being a different kind of piece without a call to action. Those projects have their place, but is sometimes hard to justify carving out the time for them."
Friday
Erik Hagen replied to Michelle L. Monti's discussion Questioning the Value of College Holiday Videos
"We did one in 2012 and 2013, but not 2014. We initially got caught up in the buzz because everyone was doing them, and it seemed like a fun idea. But this last cycle we were so busy with other projects we couldn't justify carving out the time.…"
Friday
Erik Hagen posted a discussion

Dynamically adding text to a PDF

We're looking for a service or tool that will let employees create their own business card and have a press-ready PDF sent to our print shop. Ideally the employee would type in their info into a form, and that text would be dropped into a predefined PDF template. I know this falls under the "web to print" industry, but I haven't found any workable services yet. Thanks!See More
Friday
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Otero Junior College has gone live with their new responsive website. Design by our partner Donoughe Design. Great work!! www.ojc.edu "
Feb 25
Nursalim Hadi posted a discussion

Web Developer - College of Business - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

WEB DEVELOPER Information Technology College of Business University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignSearch ExtendedThe College of Business seeks a Web Developer responsible for the College's web design. The primary focus for this full-time, non-tenured academic professional position will be to leverage available web technologies and services (including a Web CMS), extensive technical skill, and strong independent judgment and decision making skills to architect and implement web sites that…See More
Feb 25
Nursalim Hadi is now a member of University Web Developers
Feb 24
Amber Klaus is now a member of University Web Developers
Feb 21
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Looking forward to working with our newest customer Merced College. Welcome to the OmniUpdate family!"
Feb 20
Kevin Hanselman posted a discussion

Webmaster at The Sage Colleges

The Webmaster manages and maintains all aspects of The Sage Colleges’ website, www.sage.edu, as well as Sage’s online presence and e-communications, in order to provide a successful online interaction for our audiences with Sage and to support key enrollment and advancement goals. This full-time administrative position reports to the Senior Director of…See More
Feb 20
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"East Los Angeles College has a new responsive website. Looks great! www.elac.edu "
Feb 19
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Everybody's favorite OU Campus trainer gives some great tips on building your own training program in today's blog post. Check it out! "
Feb 18
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Please note that OmniUpdate will be closed this Monday in observance of President's Day. Business will resume on Tuesday at 6:00 AM PST."
Feb 13
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Happy Friday everyone! OU Campus has some new users over at University of Alaska Anchorage. Welcome to the OmniUpdate family!"
Feb 13
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"The 2015 OmniUpdate User Training Conference is almost here! See some familiar faces and learn more about the goings-on at the conference in today’s blog post. "
Feb 12
Stephanie Enoch is now a member of University Web Developers
Feb 12

UWEBD has been in existence for more than 10 years and is the very best email discussion list on the Internet, in any industry, on any topic

About

© 2015   Created by Mark Greenfield.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service