Performing a WordPress website redesign on a WP content management system website invariably requires replacing the design theme, and/or the theme base. It may also include revising page file names, category structures etc. Doing a redesign on a live WP site is fraught with peril – and seamless transitions are much more impressive than accidentally broken live sites…

Where to rebuild your site?

There are at least two options to pick from in selecting a WordPress Website redesign location. I usually base the choice on whether or not its a WordPress rebuild, and/or if the new site will be hosted in a new location. Clients often choose the rebuild timing as an opportunity to opt for a better hosting platform, such as a one that includes an Annual Website Maintenance Plan…

Build in a Sub-directory

If its a WordPress site that is being worked on, the least time-consuming option might be to complete the redesign in a subdirectory of that site. When its completed, all that’s required to go live is to edit the index.php file in the root directory, and amend the path to the WordPress source files. Once that’s done, simple delete the original version of WordPress in the root directory, if that’s where it was. See: Giving WordPress its own Directory

Build on Temp Hosting Account

An experienced web redesign services company knows that this is best done on a test site. If the client would like the site to go live on new hosting, I offer to provide managed hosting or an annual WordPress Website Maintenance Plan that includes managed hosting. Running my own VPS server allows me the flexibility to add a hosting account in a couple of minutes. I can immediately install WordPress and get the rebuild process underway without any fuss or bother. Having total control over the hosting aspect is helpful, especially when there’s the need to create MySQL databases and upload files.

Prevent Indexing of the Temporary Site

There’s no merit in allowing search engines to index a site under construction if its going to be relocated to a client’s hosting account later. If its in a sub-directory of the  client’s site, that site will be credited with all the 404 page not found errors when the new version’s location changes. That’s always be avoided if possible.

  • Install the “Password Protected” plugin, because that prevents prying eyes and search engines from seeing anything that’s not ready for prime time.

When you are ready to go live with the new sites its crucial that you UNINSTALL and delete the  Password Protect plugin, and check that the Privacy settings allow indexing…

Manually add a real robots.txt, and a insert a reference to the sitemap.xml generated by the Google XML Sitemap plugin…

 

WP Redesign Tool Set

As my grandfather was overly fond of pointing out – “There are more ways to kill a cat than drowning it in cream…”  This was more illustrative of the availability of multiple tools and methodologies for almost any task, albeit somewhat alarming to any feline within earshot, rather than any malevolent intent towards the aforementioned cat…

Therefore, note that the plugins listed next are my personal choices because; either I’ve grown accustomed to their peccadilloes, or I can’t be bothered looking around for alternatives. You may be aware of, or already use, similar apps & tools that are as good or better….

Updraftplus

Compared to what went before in terms of slick backup, site migration and replication tools, Updraftplus is indeed a thing of beauty and a joy to  behold. I had no hesitation in shelling out the big bucks for a multi-site licence and use it with religious fervour on every site I build and manage.  For the average webmaster, a single site licence for their site is well worth the modest ticket price!

What Updraftplus facilitates is the breathtakingly easy ability to take a total “lock, stock and barrel” copy of a WordPress website, including the database, and package it up in a password-protected Zip file. The zip file can be downloaded, exported or copied to the new location. The second step is the migration process, handled by the Restore process. Here’s how it goes;

  • Run a Full Backup
  • Download it to your PC
  • Install a fresh iteration of WordPress on the destination, including Updratplus
  • Upload the files to the destination website’s /uploads/updraft/ directory via FTP or file manager
  • Run the Restore/Migration process in Updraftplus

This can all be accomplished faster than it can be explained!  Very rarely do any issues arise – and in my experience, only if the destination is a low-spec shared hosting server with old versions of PHP etc.

Design Themes

In my opinion, its always best to always buy a Premium WordPress CMS theme for any WordPress website redesign project! Pick one from a reputable theme design company, preferably one with an upgrade path and community support built in, such as StudioPress “Genesis” Themes for WordPress.  Using a design them which supports the “child theme” concept is ideal. There are sound reasons for this – not least of which is standards compliance, security, functionality and support for the full WordPress feature set.

Free themes often have little or no provenance, and no comeback. There’s no assurances of adherence to HTML or CSS standards, or compliance with best practice in coding for security. Some themes from dubious sources can even come bundled with your very own malware already built in!

The same logic applies to mission-critical plugins… and $75  is not a big price to pay for such an important component!

Mobile Responsive

You absolutely must use a theme that is tagged as ‘mobile responsive design’ because these will future -proof your site for the next couple of years. This type of theme dynamically resizes depending on the device its being displayed on; desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone, allowing you to reach out and welcome all manner of visitors!

Smart New WordPress

One of the many cool features of the latest versions of WordPress is that it retains a copy of your dis-used Sidebar Widgets. Previously, if you forgot to copy the content of those, they’d simply vanish if the new theme did not have corresponding slots for them to mesh into.