As the calendar rolled over to the year 2014, there was only one active Web site for us here at Unleashed. Yes, we technically had a second site but it simply pointed back to the main site. All of the products, services and content were stored on the unleash.com site. I don’t know the exact count, but it had more than 10,000 pages. Something needed to change, but I honestly didn’t know at that time exactly how it would change.
The first thoughts of how things would be changed probably started in the summer of 2014. The obvious answer was to move our Web content to the WordPress platform. Three sites were born in the fall of 2014 and I guess you could say they represented a proof of concept.
With each of these projects, we moved content off of the unleash.com site and expanded on it in the new site. We even set up forwarding from the old pages on unleash.com to the corresponding pages on the new sites.
Things went so well with each of those sites that we decided to also move another site before the year ended and it is one that we technically had laying around.
While we moved the site and some content, there was still far more CorelDRAW-related content on the unleash.com site. It took many more months to migrate all of the content.
For years we had offered blog posts on subdomains of unleash.com. There were thousands of posts. Thinking about moving them made my head hurt. After some research, I found that the process could be highly automated. I even wrote about it in How We Built Graphics Unleashed Blog Site In Less Than a Week. Thus, a sixth site was born.
It was also very obvious that much of our business was shifting to Web design, specifically with WordPress. If that was going to be a business focus, we needed a site dedicated to it and that led to site number seven.
A number of people had asked if there was a way to purchase some of my photos. I have to admit, I was a bit bored one day and wanted a domain to call my own. That led to the birth of the eighth site.
While there weren’t any more new sites coming last fall, there was a lot of work happening behind the scenes to move everything else off of the unleash.com domain. If it didn’t get moved, it was going to get removed. Thousands of pages and quite a few old products died as 2015 came to an end. We relauched an all-new site on the unleash.com domain that had fewer than ten pages.
With so many pages being removed from the old site, we make sure that the “dead” pages would forward to a page that helped to redirect visitors to the new location. I wrote a bit more about that in Preparing a Useful 404 Web Page in WordPress.
Everything to that point was a huge ordeal. More than 10,000 pages had been cut to something like 5,000 pages. In doing this, the pages were on a more logical site rather than a single site that had grown a bit too big. While this may seem unbelievable, it also would save us thousands of dollars a year!
2016 In Review
With the big move behind us, much of 2016 involved tweaking the sites we had built for ourselves while focusing on building sites for clients. There was another big change we accomplished and that was moving all remaining physical products to downloads. Yes, this meant we didn’t have to charge for shipping and customers would get their desired products faster. It also allows us to work from anywhere in the world.
While we had moved the main blogs in 2015, there was one remaining blog to move. Site number nine was born for that blog.
Just as I was getting that new site rolling, I started writing for a similar site that had a much bigger following. You can see my writing on the Through the Phog site.
Where Will 2017 Lead?
For those who thought there couldn’t possibly be any more sites in the Unleashed network, there is a tenth site in the works. When the time is right, we’ll tell you all about it.
We will work on the nine other sites as well as this new site when time allows. Our focus is on working on sites for clients. For those who want to know how it is done, I’m going to be building a site live at the Awards and Personalization Association’s International Awards and Personalization Expo in February 2017. The last time I asked, there was still space available in the classes I’m teaching. The class sizes are limited so sign up now if you are interested.
As I was describing some of the tasks in 2015, I mentioned that not having to ship products allowed us to work from anywhere. That means I’ll need to update maps on our sites to show our Southern satellite office. There isn’t a full-time move to that office coming in 2017, but it will be a more active office going forward. All of the changes we’ve made allow either office to be used without having any negative effect on customers. We wouldn’t have it any other way!