Things never go smoothly. I knew when I said it would take me a week of having the main site offline and only the forum up and running, that reality would kick in and it would take longer. Sure enough that's what happened. I kind of unofficially gave myself over a month to get all of this done. My main goal all along was to have everything done by October 1st. So really I'm ahead of schedule! While my obligations outside of the site are mostly responsible for the delays, I also struggled getting WordPress integrated with the site. There is a WordPress addon (a bridge) that allows you to integrate it with the new forum software we have. It didn't work very well and their support was awful. After spending a dozen+ hours implementing, testing, and learning Wordpress, I was disappointed. I plowed ahead and after some further testing, found a piece of portal software that integrates nicely with the forum. Things worked out as the new site is starting to look a lot like the old site. That's good and bad. You may wonder why we bothered if we're just going to make it look the same. The old portal was abandoned and no longer supported. I couldn't upgrade the forum as it would have broken the portal integration. This time around things are different. The reviews are being moved onto the forum itself and the portal is just a basic front end for the main page. The entire site is essentially driven by the forum. If the portal were to be abandoned, it would be very quick and painless to switch to another portal. Besides those issues, there are new features available with new software. You can see the Facebook and Twitter integration around the site - there will be some more of that coming soon. You can embed YouTube videos into posts now. Mobile support is a pretty big deal, obviously. There are many more features (some native, some through plugins) that I will be adding in the future.
So what's next?
I plan to have all the reviews brought over by October 1st. October is of course when we get the most traffic and I would like everything in place by then.
There is still lots of fine tuning to do on the layout - both the main site and the forum. Mobile layout needs fine tuning. I have warmed to mobile support after this experience and plan to make it look even better on the site.
With October comes a month when we try to post many reviews. We have struggled with that over the past few years and I plan to ask the community for some help. My next news article will cover that in more detail.
Looking ahead, I have long wanted to make this a community driven site. That's part of the plan with all these changes. YOU guys post the news articles, etc. You pretty much do that already on the forum. Again, more details to be posted at a later date.
Lastly, remember that supporting the site by doing your Amazon shopping through the ads here will put more money back into the site. I plan to funnel any excess funds back into the site - mostly in the form of gift certificates to reward reviewers, news posters, and whatever else we come up with.
That's it for now. Stay tuned for more!