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Converting a large static site to CMS
pros and cons
buksida




msg:1583516
 8:48 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am currently investigating a "tech upgrade" for a large news website which is currently static html pages created manually. I have selected Joomla as my CMS of choice should we go that route. Also part of my investigation was to summarize the pros and cons of site conversion, below are some of my findings.

Pros

1)Simplification of editorial process – quick and easy to put content online and re-edit if necessary, the editing software allows html and images for full flexibility.

2)Built in functionality – print page, pdf, email this, newsfeeds and letters, site search etc all built in automatically.

3)Member area – built in private area for members if required where pay for view content can be run for subscribers.

4)Expansion – compatibility with hundreds of add-on modules for additional functions such as commerce, multimedia, languages, forums etc.

5)Open source – software is constantly being developed and improved with online help available in form of support forums.

6)Ad management – compatible with additional advanced ad management software and geo-targeting capabilities.

7)Browser compliant – looks and operates the same across all browsers with optional functions to change text and layout sizes.

8)Publishing – articles can be published and set on a page as soon as they are ready without the need for a daily upload.

9)Statistics – includes advanced and reliable statistics for each article and the entire site.

10)Software – alleviates the requirement to use antiquated software such as the problematic editing software.

11)Hardware – local computers will not require upgrading as the system runs entirely online.

Cons

1)Hosting – complete change of server and hosting required involving lengthy and complex transfer of existing site. We will also need to build up a relationship with a new hosting company where support will be of paramount importance.

2)Server – requires a far more powerful server to handle the hundreds of database requests per second likely to be generated by our volume of traffic.

3)Learning curve – all editorial and technical staff will need to learn an entirely new system of operation with many teething problems expected.

4)Internet connection – would need to be a lot more reliable and faster as the system runs entirely online.

5)Troubleshooting – unless 24 hour tech support is acquired fixing technical problems with the system core could take time.

6)Search engines – current rankings will suffer due to a drastic change in URL’s and the file system, existing inbound links (unless to the root domain.com) will all be broken affecting the rankings even further. We anticipate 6 months to a year after launch for search engine rankings to return to what they are today.

7)Security – due to the open source nature of the software it is far more vulnerable to attack from hackers looking for exploits in the code. Since the demo version was installed a newer version of Joomla (1.0.9) has already been launched. Site administrators must be extremely vigilant with security issues.

8)Design flexibility – the system will no longer use static pages so most design flexibility will be lost on main index pages however we are still researching the systems layout limitations. We may be in danger of looking like every other site out there.

9)Template design – in order to create our own personalized templates for the software to maintain the look and feel of the current site the work will probably need to be out-sourced to Joomla design and programming professionals at an additional cost.

10)Conversion – converting our existing site consisting of thousands of static pages is expected to be a lengthy and complex process and needs a lot of investigation before being attempted.

11)Compatibility – all of our existing functions such as related articles, sub index pages, ad layout and positioning, static pages, and links would need to be investigated for compatibility with the new system.

Does anybody have an more that stand out? Comments on the above would also be appreciated.

 

Harry




msg:1583517
 12:04 pm on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

Some CMS make it possible to save in HTML which would allow you to keep the same file name for each article. This is what I suggest you do.

henry0




msg:1583518
 12:12 pm on Jul 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Testing and training should be done on a test server
as well as learning to plug updates and security patches

Staff accessible sections, should not take much training time.

It looks like you have some large traffic and you are probably more than a
“One man show” so I will have a on board a staff member knowing PHP and MySQL for performing maintenance, update, patching etc..
that person should be able to design a new set of templates.

Also Joomla has a large developer community that could at a reasonable cost built a customized system.

Another reason to brainstorm about the move:
SE indexed pages, will the existing indexed pages still exist?
How about page extension?

the_nerd




msg:1583519
 7:46 pm on Jul 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Some systems allow you to use your existing filenames even within a cms. This way you keep inbound links in place, and Toolbar green, if that's important for you.

mod.rewrite does the trick by translating the .html filenames that you show to to world into .php?par1=...&par2= ... and so on.

buksida




msg:1583520
 6:43 am on Jul 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies, a little more to think about there.

We have a test server with a version setup for testing/training purposes already.

I will probably be the one that handles the php side of things although I'm far from an expert at it.

Have also contacted some Joomla pros regarding template design.

We would ideally like to have all the static pages still accessible to they would need to be moved to the new server and just the new stuff goes in via the CMS ... if this is possible.

wmuser




msg:1583521
 12:00 am on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I personaly would go with Drupal,its more SE friendly

wanderingmind




msg:3004395
 5:39 pm on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Rankings - They would suffer, you would lose all links to internal pages you have currently, and there is no guarantee that they would ever return to the current positions. Even if they do, you would be much more vulnerable to Google's idiosyncracies (you can see them in the Google Forum) than you are currently.

Design - can be pulled off, though depending on who you go to, costs could vary.

Hosting - in the forums.#*$!, you would see some horror stories on how Joomla can drag a server down. be careful.

SEO lmiitations - not many, but a few core hacks would be needed to get the basics right.

Current pages and integration - Joomla has an option to create static pages. As you have current static pages with existing folders and subfolders etc, it just might be possible to create a few static pages in Joomla, use them as sitemaps that would link to your current static HTML pages. For example, say you have a static page currently as www.site.com/politics/2006/story1.html / asp etc. If the SEf modules in joomla rewrites some dynamic page URL in the same format, would the static page directory name clash with the rewritten directory name in Joomla? I don't know, never tried it.

Other options: If you have essentially static pages, why not use an easily available article script and modify that as you need? Mostly they are in PHP and would be pretty easy to modify. They could be lighter on the server too.

Keano16




msg:3009218
 10:36 am on Jul 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

We have changed our "big" website from pure static to CMS and results are more than fine.

Now we are more flexible and also our revenues are going up every month!

Good luck!

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