Make a Gameplan And Stick To It

March 12, 2015

As many of you are aware, I’ve been doing a lot more Web design lately. A recent project ran into a number of problems that could have been avoided if the gameplan had been followed. Let’s go over some of those issues and how they would have been minimized or eliminated by doing things according to plan.

This particular client had an existing Web site, but was very unhappy with how it was performing given the high price. We agreed that a new site would be designed in the background and then we’d switch the URL ( when the new site was ready for visits from the public.

It was determined that the new site would be developed with WordPress. Our next decision was related to where the site would be hosted. I suggested to the client that I could host it on our server. The client preferred to pay more and use a different hosting plan. This choice was part of the problem because of how the site got set up.

While both hosting ideas would use the same company, it was purely a cost issue and my plan would have cost less. When the client chose their own hosting plan, they also declined help from the Web hosting company on how to configure the installation of WordPress. I would have been happy to help as well, but I wasn’t asked. When WordPress was installed, a choice (network multi-site) was made that made the design of the site much more difficult than was needed and made it nearly impossible to make the new site live.

After the new site was ready, it was a matter of picking a time when the change would be made. I suggested a weekday and a weekend day when we could schedule the switch. A few days before the planned switch, the client sent me an e-mail on a weekend afternoon and wanted to do it immediately. At that time, I was attending a baseball Spring Training game and wouldn’t be available to test and fix anything that went wrong. I was at least able to talk the client into waiting a couple of days until the original weekday morning.

Except the client didn’t wait and initiated the change the night before. The result was a site that was completely dead for nearly 24 hours. First, we had to remove the multi-site configuration because it wouldn’t allow the domain of the site to be changed. Thankfully the How To Revert a WordPress Multisite to a Single-site tutorial provided detailed instructions on the process. Of course I followed the first step very closely and did a full backup before starting what could have been a disaster.

Within an hour, the multisite option was removed and everything still worked great on the backend. Once I told WordPress the new domain name, I wouldn’t be able to access the backend again until we were able to move the URL.

Unfortunately we still had a large hurdle to overcome. We couldn’t move the URL to the new site until it was removed from another site that the client didn’t even know existed. If the client doesn’t know where to find it, it is really difficult for me to find it. Finally I found it and the new site was connected to the desired URL.

While the new site “worked,” a number of edits still need to be made that goes back to the original multisite setup. If it was just a handful of pages, the process wouldn’t take long. Unfortunately there are more than 100 pages to test and edit.

While the client is not upset with me, it is frustrating that my advice was ignored on several occasions and it led to a disastrous rollout. It also will cost the client more money because of all the extra work I had to do to undo some of the mistakes made by the client. Regardless of the project, it is important for the client and the designer to create a gameplan and to follow it. Trying to deviate from the plan will often create unnecessary problems.

Now that the majority of this huge project is complete, I’ll have more time to work on other projects. Would you like my help in building a Web site for you?

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III built his first Web site in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013. He has used the Divi theme exclusively since 2015. Earlier in his career he was the author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences.

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