A bit of a revision

Keith Adams

Rover 3500 – no excuse needed to show this picture!

I’ve just spent the day merging the WordPress News  and Blogs pages hosted on AROnline to become one – and, in doing so, created AROnline Live. It should all work as it did, with Blogs and News items being joined by First Drives as well as the other content we’ll be adding to the site in the future.

However, there’s still a fair bit of debate going on at AROnline Towers about the future of the site. Should we transfer all the content already online to our CMS system, or should we leave the existing static HTML pages as they are and just add all future development stories and galleries to the new system? The former would be best in terms of the way the site looks and feels, being consistent all the way across, but then we may lose all of our Google rankings, as well as the nice simple navgation system we designed all those years ago.

I’ll try the next development story I add to the site on both systems and see what feedback I get.

…just need to work out what that car’s going to be!

Keith Adams


  1. Hey, I like this tatty old HTML set up because it works on even the humblest PC operating sytem and web browser – not every corner of the world is running the latest MS operating system via 50MB broadband!

    Remember people read the interweb at work on sticky keyboards and 14″ CRT monitors…

  2. @Will
    Have to agree with you – it works a treat on a mobile phone but, as for Andrew, have you thought of using a baby wipe on that key board?!

    However, loosing your Google ranking would reduce future new readers and therefore new stories and input.

  3. To be fair, WordPress, with an appropriate template, should work as well if not better than the current site on all devices. The ‘frame’ system (the menu system on the left) is problematic for all sorts of reasons.

    With regard to the Google ranking, some advice from professionals with regard to page redirects, etc., should help.

    The big thing that would put me off is the transistion of the old pages to WordPress pages – unless you can get some sort of thing in place that will process them automatically?

  4. You don’t need to lose ranking in Google – just get some good SEO tools that map each article to a pseudo HTML page name and muck around with 301 redirects so that all existing HTML page names are mapped to the new SEO page names on the site. A good SEO tool will be able to create names exactly as per the old ones.

    You need to choose your CMS based upon what it can do to look like the old site. It could have been done with Joomla (and I’d have done it for you) but, hopefully, you made the right choice in WordPress and it can do the right SEO job.

  5. Keith, I’m afraid I think that WordPress in a publishing context is a solution searching for a problem to which it is suited.

    There are so many excellent CMS solutions for this sort of content publishing, which would add all sorts of options for richer content, more seamless cross-linking and so on. WordPress is, IMHO, just a cludge of the first order for this sort of thing and really very hard to get to work like a “proper” site 🙂

    That said, I concur with the above posts re 301 redirects to sort out your page rank issues. This page gives you a start: http://aplawrence.com/Unixart/googlepagerank301.html

  6. I’m not tied to CMS by any means – I just want the site to look and feel as it does now.

    That said, yes, all CMS advice is welcomed. I did look at Joomla (and a test site is installed on this server), but couldn’t really get my head around making it look and feel the way it does now. I think that, currently, the navigation is really good on the site as it is and am keen to retain that…

  7. We’ve used 301 redirects with success already – i.e. on moving the site from austin-rover.co.uk to aronline.co.uk – so this bit is possible to resolve.

    The main issue on a transfer to a CMS would be the import of the site. Some programming efforts should see Drupal or TYPO3 come out with a similar solution for the navigation.

    However, I’m not sure if the amount of work really justifies transferring content that is quite static anyway (except for the News and Blogs sections of these pages).

  8. @Alexander Boucke
    If we can get the framework of the site in place, I’m happy to import manually (1000 or so pages, eeek), because I think a lot of the larger stories need breaking up. Look at the Mini development story (http://www.aronline.co.uk/ado15storyf.htm) for the HTML solution to that – but it needs to be somewhat more elegant.

    However, that is the dilemma, I’m going through. Keep the legacy stuff as is, as it’s quite static, or to move it over. I do think the ‘Live’ area of the site is working quite well now and would love more feedback on how it all would gel together…


  9. I think there is a real question to ask: what is the future of this site?

    As far as I can see, it can either evolve into an edited, canonical resource, a little like the long-standing Britannica, in which case, where’s the long-term revenue model to pay for the continued publishing?

    Alrernatively, it can evolve into a fascinating social publishing platform, collecting anecdotes and second-hand knowledge as well as capturing contributions (edited or not) from current and former participants in “the game” that has been the British motor industry.

    For my part, I’d like to see the latter – not a bunch of forums or unsorted comments after edited posts, but a truly collaborative, living history project which, as a useful side effect, would generate a tremendous amount of site dwell time and participation – which would be of benefit to the financial side of the site.

    One observation from experience: a Drupal (or similar) backend to a fully-dynamic site will require considerably “bigger iron” on the server side, especially if the pattern of database reads are not heavily optimised, resulting in necessary increases in spend per page served.

    Furthermore, any dynamic site will bring with it inevitable (if perhaps small) security problems, which will require time (for which read cost) to keep on top of.

    There are systems, designed primarily for news publishing, which are “push” if you like – a fully-fledged CMS, but with public-facing pages served as static, cached instances of the content at a particular period in time. Updates can, of course, be pushed out to the public-facing servers at any time.

    As site traffic increases (which, of course, is the aim!), larger server hardware can be deployed to keep all of the current page images cached in memory; optimising the hardware to match the server load.

    You can, of course, do something similar with Drupal, if you’re able to dig around, run caching proxies and so on – this page gives you an idea: http://drupal.org/node/346347

    It would be interesting to know what your current requirements specification looks like so that we can offer a bit more insight into what other options might be worth exploring.

  10. Hi there,

    Great food for thought. Personally, I’m with you on the future development of the site, and the more interaction with it, the better. After all, it’s what other people have contributed that has made the site the success it is. It’s true that we need a better host… I am working on this now.

    If you’re considering tech/hosting solutions, I am all ears :).


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