Site upgrade

Yikes! Hoboken411 gets a site upgrade

Welcome to 2015! Took long enough – but we finally rolled up our sleeves and brought Hoboken411 closer to modern times with an “across the board” site upgrade this past weekend.

Hoboken411 new look

Upgrading a 10 year old site is not easy!

(Warning – nerd talk below…)

For one, we hadn’t really done much to the site whatsoever in the past six years other than provide unique Hoboken content. That meant we were around 75 WordPress versions behind. A combination of “new” technologies, security issues, and (hopefully) performance improvements were the main drivers for this upgrade choice. It’s been a long time since we first installed WordPress at version 1.5. That’s the equivalent of a century in “computer time!”

Our database was also a mess. A mix of table types and character sets and unneeded indexes. What a royal pain in the neck (we did that over the course of last week to “get it ready” for the roll-out.) While it appeared to be a daunting task any “DB Admin” would cringe at – it wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. The conversion took place essentially without a hitch (other than losing some reader comments – which we can technically “import” from the old site – but notified the readers instead. They can replace if they wish.)

Additionally, a lot of content within the articles here also had to be changed (“search and replace”) due to the theme layout. That took several days for some odd reason.

Lastly – the plugins also had to be almost completely replaced because most of them were outdated and not compatible with the latest stable version of WordPress. That’s the main reason we were so apprehensive to do the upgrade in the first place (complexity). You always found a “roadblock” which required exorbitant amounts of research. Imagine finding, testing and updating dozens of different “functionalities?” Suck me sideways! What a headache-inducing quagmire!

However, we did a good portion of the “testing” on a sandbox server which presented it’s own set of truly annoying problems (just getting it working). Enough to give us confidence to “take the plunge.” Still have more work to do, that’s for sure.

But it’s all good! While we’re not done tweaking the overall design by a long shot, we still gained a lot of improvements.

  • Cleaner look, bigger text, nicer photos
  • Better on mobile
  • Reduced database tables from 48 to 23
  • Reduced plugins from 60+ to about 30 (looking to streamline even more)
  • Instituted robust spam protection
  • Some server load improvements (more coming)

We’re currently working on speed improvements and other overall adjustments. We hope to have some interesting new (and unique) features in the coming weeks as well.

Glad I didn’t destroy the whole thing. That would have been a drag.

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