Swedish American Historical Society Website Redesign
The Swedish American Historical Society Website recently received a much-needed redesign. I took the vintage site, which I had coded some years back in straight HTML, and put it into WordPress. We decided early on that the content of the vintage site would serve as the basis for the redesign. We also decided that all existing functionality needed to be retained, or upgraded, in the new website. The Swedish American Historical Society sells books through their website. Members are also able to pay membership dues through the site. All this functionality needed to be retained and rebuilt in WordPress.
Making the move to WordPress
I made the recommendation to go with a premium theme for the website, and we chose Pinnacle, by Kadence. Pinnacle is a responsive WordPress theme, and it works well on mobile devices, and integrates well with WooCommerce. I implemented WooCommerce to handle the e-Commerce duties on the website. We built all the books as ‘products’ in WooCommerce. I also designed a method for Society members to have a reduced rate on book purchases, which allows for two-tier pricing on their book pricing without the use of coupons.
Content? What Content?
We repurposed many of the existing feature articles from the vintage site and used them as our initial set of blog posts for the new site. WordPress allowed us to back-date the posts so they appear in their natural order in the archives inside the WordPress system. The rest of the existing content was brushed up and ported onto corresponding pages in the new site.
The site re-design went fairly smoothly. One challenge we faced was that of the distributed team. I work from Seattle, and the Society’s staff work from Chicago and Minneapolis. We overcame our distance difficulties by scheduling phone meetings at critical junctures. Otherwise, the distance didn’t seem to interfere with normal workflow. In order to show the Society’s staff progress on the site, I set up WordPress on a private URL/server and could share daily builds with the team. They could see design concepts and navigation decisions, and begin to learn their way around WordPress, all in a safe place to work.
Moving from development into production
I ported the development site over into the production environment after all the content was settled into place in development. One issue we ran into was that the new site uses a Dynamic IP address, and and SSL certificate. All of the site’s files, including the WordPress admin pages, needed to be secured in order for the SSL certificate to authenticate properly. Once all that was ironed out, the security was in place for the new e-Commerce system.
After the successful launch of the new site in WordPress, I spent time with staff members who’s role it will be to add and manage content. I created WordPress accounts for staff and trained them how to use the content management system. Now they are easily adding new posts and maintaining their own content. I still keep an eye on the technical side of the site, but the Swedish American Historical Society Website redesign is successfully completed.