New 2011 Site Design

Yesterday I uploaded my new website. This new website is built with WordPress and it uses the TwentyTen default template.

There are a couple of reasons why I decided to use WordPress, one of which is its ease of use. When I first built my old website I used a CMS, which at the time, was easy-to-use and did everything I needed it to do. But as my site grew and I decided to add a blog to it, the old CMS did not have a blog option so I added WordPress.

By adding WordPress, when it became time to update my website with new artwork I would have to update the old CMS and WordPress. This wasn’t a big deal at the time but what I started noticing was WordPress was more search engine friendly than my old CMS. Let me give you an example, in the world of search engine optimization one of the key elements are search engine friendly URLs. A search engine friendly URL will have keywords in all lower case and dashes separating each word. With my old CMS I had keywords in the URL but I also had special characters such as a question mark.

Example:

Now in these examples you can see the difference. They went to the same page but the WordPress URL is much more search engine friendly. Always keep in mind that search engines try to index everything whether you have a good URL structure or bad URL structure but where the differences come into play is when a search engine is trying to decide which website to put higher in the search results. Google looks at over 200 things when it’s comparing websites so what you want your site to do is to look less imperfect than your competitor.

Other things that I looked at with WordPress is that it’s very user-friendly, I actually use it over on AutomotiveArtists.com. Another great thing about WordPress is that it has great user support. In the process of converting my website over I had questions, a lot of them. One of my biggest questions is that since I had so many pages already made in the blog section all I wanted to do was add my art pages to WordPress but I didn’t want them to be in the blog section. This is where the great user support comes from, any time I had a question I did a search and someone out there already had an answer. Being able to quickly find answers to my questions really helped me out.

As far as the template design I went with the default TwentyTen template and made minor tweaks to it. I always liked this template, it just has a nice clean look about it.

Another deciding factor was page load speed. Recently Google came out with a page where you can test your page load speed. This page load speed ranks how quickly your page downloads on the scale from 0 to 100. When I first tried it on my old website I thought my website loaded pretty fast so I was expecting a high score. The score I got was a 60 but when I tested the WordPress blog version of my website I got an 89. So I started testing other websites that I have, some that are built in plain HTML and a couple of others made in WordPress. It seemed the WordPress sites always ranked higher than my non-WordPress websites. Test your site’s page load speed.

The thing that I’m doing now is setting up 301 redirects from my old CMS’s URLs over to the new WordPress URLs. As with most things with WordPress they have a plug-in that can help you do most anything, in this case they have a redirect plug-in that is helping me manage all my redirects. Anytime you change your URL structure, in this case going from an old website to the new website, it’s good to put in 301 redirects. Not only does this help users who click on an old link come to your new page but it also tells the search engines that you have permanently moved the old page to a new URL.

So now everything is set and I can get back to doing artwork. I got a couple of new things I want to show you but I didn’t want to post anything because if I posted it on the old side I had to transfer to the new site.

Anyway I hope you like the new site, that’s where I’ve been for the last couple weeks getting 135 pages transfered over, working on a test server and then moving everything back over.

Thanks, greg

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