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Brand New Websites!

Rewriting websites for enhanced performance and a richer set of features

By , 7th May 2017 in Myself

I've been busy during the past few months redeveloping and enhancing my site for better performance, greater flexibility and ease of maintainability.

My previous site was powered by WordPress and contained over 1000 posts and pages with nearly 5000 images (plus assorted smaller images and thumbnails for each - nearly 25,000 files in total). The site wasn't just a blog, my content covered multiple subjects from photography to web design, software engineering to the paranormal. I wanted a way to split this content into separate sites, whilst maintaining a single administration interface and a common media gallery. At this time, WordPress is unable to do this.

I was also looking to decrease disc usage and improve page performance. WordPress is notoriously bad at performance and requires third party caching plugins to work optimally. These create large numbers of files and consume a huge amount of disc space, which was causing problems with my usage and backups.

I looked at various other Content Management Systems (CMS), before eventually deciding to write my own, built from scratch. My first website was written this way so it seemed fitting that 17 years later I return to the old methods.

My new system uses a MySQL based backend which allows me to manage pages and images in one location, link between them and generally do all the normal CMS functions. The main difference is that my system allows me to export all the content to a folder - static HTML and generated thumbnails / watermarked images. This folder is then uploaded to the web server. PHP has not used on the server anymore, meaning files can be served lightning fast.

The second big change I have made is splitting my content into six distinct websites, each of which uses the same theme and layout. This helps create a feeling of "brand unity" while remaining separate websites.

Splitting the content across multiple websites like this has several advantages. Firstly it's easier for me to manage and maintain. Secondly, it allows each domain name to be targeted separately in Google, theoretically improving the SEO and for better ad targeting. That brings me to the next point, which is the addition of adverts to my sites. I've had to do this because the servers I use are not free, and it takes considerable time and effort to produce all the content and keep things running smoothly. A few unobtrusive adverts shouldn't be too annoying.

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