2016 Year In Review: The Workology Website Project

New series of posts- The Spinbird Group Year in Review.

Featured Project: The Workology Total HR Blog “The Art & Science of HR”

Jessica Miller-Merrell has been a great friend and colleague- we met Jessica in 2008 in our ramp up of Social Media, and she has been a long time fan and client of The Spinbird Group.

Named one of the top US Branding and Social Media influencers by Forbes in her space, Jessica has made herself incredibly and uniquely positioned in the HR niche- she DOMINATES it!

Forbes huffington post fox news CBS

She achieved this with her flagship blog- Blogging4Jobs, and also ran 3 other blogs.. Secrets of The Job Hunt, Workology, and The Recruiter’s Lounge.

After running these multiple blogs for several years, Jessica decided to combine all of them into one JUGGERNAUT offering- combining everything- podcasts, blog posts, videos, etc into one WordPress install. Whew!

So, the first step was the consultation, gathering all design ideas, logins, etc.. and discovery that normally takes place. We were off to the races!

The Spinbird Group enlisted the help of Jean-François Arseneault, from the Montréal area for the wrangling of the HUGE databases. He was amazing at the initial content architecture-  here are some of his notes as to what we needed to achieve:

Integrating two (2) different sites, whether they are using the same technology or not, is always going to be a challenge. So imagine integrating four (4)… (4 HUGE sites)…
The first step in any integration / migration project will be to map out the existing assets, data structures, content and technologies used, and then define what the end result will be. For example, in WordPress, this would mean a complete inventory which plugins are used, which ones include content as well as an item count for every single content type (articles, pages, comments, authors, custom post types, custom taxonomies, custom fields, podcasts, videos, etc).
For this particular project, we used a 6′ x 4′ whiteboard to keep track of (and “checkmark”) everything for each of the source 4 sites, in order to ensure “no man got left behind”. 🙂
Content Architecture and planning
An additional challenge in this particular project was the sheer size of some of the sites, some weighing close to 30 GB (think of thousands of articles and their accompanying hi-res images). So in order to even be able to export the content as a WordPress Archive (WXR) or using commercial plugins like WP All Import/Export, we had to “clean” the sites. A lot. Like 22 hours worth of solid clearing- both from images, and content.
Given the size of these sites, the best and fastest way to work was to clone the sites locally on an instance of MAMP Pro, using the same domains as the live sites (so not as to change anything in the database), and then, to perform cleanup, export and other operations required to migrate the content over the “final” site. Said final site was also local, as the final deployment would be equally sizeable – the site of the deployed site ended up weighing 4 GB, and the database a healthy 125 MB. And this was cleaned and optimized.
Other technical tricks included:
– running scripts to rename all URLs in the imported content to the final site’s domain name
– building a mapping of same authors across multiple sites, to reconcile and assign them all their articles
– manually import media into the new site, scan it into the WordPress Media Manager, then resize (too) large images, and rebuild all thumbnails
And of course, all of these steps had to be performed in a certain order, as some content builds upon others. And every operation spanned thousands of posts or images, or hundreds of authors. One mistake would be critical… backups were being performed before every new operation, just in case.”
As his IMac was doing that heavy lifting, I worked on design and image wrangling. From one site alone, after all of the iterations of the various themes over the years, there were over 38GB of images that had been created- various thumbnails in lots of different sizes, so a ton of dupli- tripli- even quadruplication in most cases. Working from a local thumb drive, I deleted all of the extras, going into the new site was a fresh load of just single images. Still 3GB worth, but shaving off all the extras really streamlined the upload.


I chose The Genesis Framework for the base framework for several reasons, including speed, responsiveness and cleanliness of code, and then built a custom child theme to achieve the layout that Jessica wanted– a magazine style format that displayed custom featured images instead of titles on the home page- in several different layouts for interest. Ad space and sidebar placement was also important, with customized widgets and categorical menus rounding up the availability of content linking.


Grid of contriguting Authors for Workology by the Spinbird groupAnother requested feature was the Contributor Gallery- with all of the contributors displayed in a lightbox type of grid- with hover effects on each image to name the contributors, as well as “on click” linking to their individual contributor archives.


For SEO, we utilized a little known, but super powerful plugin called The SEO Framework, that picked up the “juice” from all of the previous years and seamlessly connected all the dots. LOTS of dots.


Once we got all the posts loaded, all the linking done, and all the images in place- we were ready for launch. One of the issues of this project was hosting, and we went with Pressidium Managed WordPress Hosting (affiliate link 🙂 ) for its elastic scaling potential, as the combination of all of this content, and combined readership of all of these blogs was going to create a pretty intense server load. And, the folks at Pressidium really know their stuff- they assisted as needed, with seamless install of the final version.


To see this GLORY in action- Visit Workology here..


At the end of the day- this was an amazing project, and Jessica and her contributors are thrilled with the outcome.

Do you have an idea for a project that needs some special attention? The Spinbird Group has you covered!

Click here to get started-

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