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Is it time for a major overhaul?

October 17, 2010, 11:30 AM

I’ve heard this a few times recently. I was told by a coworker that my site is “kinda Web 1.0”, and at the One Nation rally, one of the Rochester folks said that my site looked “kinda 90s”. Ouch.

So that begs the question: Is it time to give Schumin Web a major overhaul? And by “major overhaul”, I don’t mean just a mere redesign that I could do with a style sheet. I mean big time.

If it gives you any idea about where things stand, this is when the various elements that make up Schumin Web came into being:

  • Logo: July 1999
  • Navigational structure with sections: September 2000
    • Archives section: September 2000
    • Journal section: October 2004 (part of Life and Times prior to that)
    • Life and Times section: July 2003
    • Major Areas: September 2000
    • Odds and Ends: September 2000 (current form since July 2003)
    • Online Store: September 2000 (current form since January 2010)
    • Photography: July 2001
  • Splash Page: August 2002 (current form)
  • Photo Feature: March 2005
  • Current layout: October 2004 (rebuilt to same design twice, in 2007 and 2010)
  • Current “squares” background: June 2008

So I think it’s probably time for a major overhaul to make it modern. The content is timely, you see, but the structure is kind of old. The fact that the current navigation scheme is more than a decade old now, and the current site design is six years old this month (with the site having been rebuilt to that same design twice) says a lot. Of course, it’s better than a fancy design with nothing to say. I’ve had lots to say over the years, and I still keep the content current. The design, however, hasn’t kept up, and the design admittedly looks a bit dated, as more than a couple of people have commented.

The 2010 redesign was mainly a test-bed, learning how to use CSS by redoing the site with it and making it look like I expected. Big victory there. However, other than a few pages getting reworked, nothing really changed for the user experience. Still no RSS feeds, and still no way to comment on things.

One of the big things here is that I think it’s time to finally go to a content management system, like WordPress or something. The site has become big enough that it seems worthwhile to finally migrate it all to something like that, and that will allow me to do full design work from anywhere, too. Currently, if you see anything other than the Journal get changed, you can be fairly certain that it was done at my home computer. I want more flexibility.

Of course, another problem immediately rears its head: How do you fit Schumin Web into a CMS, or, alternately, how do you fit a CMS to Schumin Web? I don’t think I know enough about how these things all go together just yet in order to make it work. Something tells me that after I finish this Robert Ballard book that I’m reading, a book about content management systems should be next on my list.

Then if we’re going to tear the site apart to move it to a CMS, this would be a good time to make content changes, too, and figure out how to best organize things, navigate around, etc. Plus this would be a good time to update the look of everything.

So I want feedback. What would you do? How would you go about this process? Let me know, because honestly, I don’t quite know where to start.

Web site: Converting HTML to WordPress

Song: From October 2008, AnonGurl sings about zombies at an Anon raid

Quote: So, yeah, I'm a bit over my head, but hopefully I'll be able to make something of it in the end, and the site will be far better off for it.

Categories: Schumin Web meta