Sep 30

Upgrading the site

Upgrading the site many of you will want to skip this update its about the exciting changes to my website and goes into more detail than most sane people will want to read. Its been just over a year since the shaw solution site was upgraded to drupal rather than the old pure html driven site I'd originally written; whilst using a cms presented a range of advantages it did come with the disappointment of not having put the whole thing together from scratch myself.

In the last few months the site had taken a back seat to my facebook page for an assortment of reasons and part of that is I'd begun to feel that the site looked quite amateurish and I lacked the time and motivation to do anything about that. Quite a few things have changed, spiralling from an alteration to the theme which the site was using I moved from quite a cluttered customized theme to a much cleaner one. I also moved to a fixed width implementation rather than the scaling approach I had before. Whilst there is alot to be said for a scaling site it tends to look worse than one where a fixed amount of the screen real estate has been chosen and well utilized. A lot of design work is required to really succeed with a scaling theme.

As part of the theme change I changed the site logo from the previous large photo to a much smaller strip of the lovely IvoryFlame. It has several advantages, most notable being reduced file size for a faster startup and reduced screen real estate so more can be seen. I also went through the enabled modules and disabled quite a few that were of no real use; no more pointless polls, no more latest image, attached image, flicker pics, the sign in section taking pride of place is gone and replaced with a simple login link, I also went through the back end and upgraded drupal to the latest version, upgraded every module that needed it and upgraded php to version five, allowing for an automatic xml sitemap to be generated.

I'd experimented with the gallery2 module which involved setting up a second database for all images I found, the fact it would read the metadata of an image and display it in a table below the image to be an amazing thing. The problem is its not really that compatible with drupal, its flakey prone to errors and really does not cope with anything other than one specific screen size. The image module is much less sexy but combined with lightbox2 gives a decent enough effect and it does have the advantage of an uploaded image is available for display as part of a blog post i also renamed the titles whilst pholio and phlog were cute they arn t immediately apparent as to what they contain if visitors can't find something then they won't stay.

There are also custom 404 and access denied pages, nothing very advanced but it maintains the user experience. I also went through the setup with a few optimization tools to try and ensure the site was as performant as possible unfortunately there are certain things that Drupal can't do but even so its running pretty slick, especially after the first load, once the background assets are cached I also shut off all the secondary menu items and all the non-logged in navigation so only the primary links remain which again makes the whole site much cleaner and less cluttered to use.

Probably the most significant change is the whole site is moved permanently to the www.shawsolution.com domain rather than redirecting from there to photo.shawsolution.com. It was setup that was originally to give the flexibility to have a consultancy and a photography site on the same url i ve now got.

About the Author:
A passionate photographer who is unable to settle on a particular type of photography. Primarily shoots with a Canon 5D MKIII, a 1D MKIII and occasionally with a GoPro Hero4 Black.


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