The Olympics are over (thank goodness)
As people stop being glued to their televisions at all hours of the day or night, their attentions will shift back to their own community, their regular lives. And to local businesses like YOURS, and like OURS. And it challenges all of us to also be the BEST that we can be!
We have been fortunate to use the same content management system since launch, but it finally need to be replaced. We are migrating our website(s) from a system that worked beautifully for the past 18 years.
But it just finally just stopped working. And the Calgary company that created it (bless their hearts) hit the Internet Graveyard about 15 years ago, so support was no longer available.
First Principles & Learning
The re-design process forced us to go to First Principles: What were we trying to do for users? How was our content going to be updated and published? It was NOT an easy choice. Those familiar with WordPress think it’s easy. NOT when you have a hundred thousand pages to manage…. How would your Pages menu work with that many files?
This past Fall, we converted our TransCanadaHighway.com site, and our MovingInCanada.com site. They were—for us—a much smaller 3,000 pages of content. We tested methodologies, coding styles, and identified efficiencies for the FoundLocally.com conversion.
New Best Practices. We are 18 years old now….
Since our sites have been around since 1999—longer than Google— search engines “grandfathered” our sites on many site ranking criteria, for which new sites may be heavily penalized. With a new version of our site, the “grandfathering” was on the line, so we moved to today’s Best Practices. We made filenames more meaningful, separating words with hyphens, and abandoning short-forms that sped URL typing, which hurt us in search results.
|Old File Names (a sample!)||New File Names & Link (click to bookmark)|
We made some of our directory names more descriptive:
|Old Directory name||New Directory name (click to view)|
Our process involves to review & re-coding each of our 100,000 pages of content (across all 30 cities), so we have updated many along the way. We also have identified some pages to improve, once ALL THIRTY FoundLocally.com cities are converted.
During our research, we identified potential programming changes, interface simplification, new features, and more. These are “big picture changes” which will also begin after all cities are converted.
Ad Tweaks on the Site
ADVERTISEMENTS are a bone of contention. For some users they are annoying, but they ARE what pays our bills. In the Fall, Google added several “in-content” and “responsive ad units” to allow sites to display more ads more often. Like you see when you are scrolling down Facebook’s feed, or on those horrid ad-heavy “Clickbait” websites. They looked promising.
We tested those ad units and found many were SLOW LOADING (cookies!) and actually (a) slowed the site enough to reduce our Google ranking (go figure!) and (b) reduced the total ad revenues, so we got rid of them returning to in-the-margin ads, like before. Pages now load 20-40% faster than they did a month ago. (Google please reward us!)
We’re Almost Done!
All cities have some of the updated files & directories embedded in their content, and these communities are now full converted:
More Coming Soon…. And quicker!
We expect the other cities to be completed by first week of March!
Watch for the pace of change to accelerate after that time…. Please stay tuned!