The Birth of a Web Site

A few weeks ago, after a very long development period, I finally published the new Ten-321 Enterprises Web site. The reason that site took so long to go into production was simply the fact that I was working on so many other projects at the same time.

While redeveloping the Ten-321 Enterprises Web site, I was also working on redeveloping the Web site for DC Evolution and quite a few other things. The previous version of the DC Evolution Web site, which was not designed or developed by me and had been up for nearly five years without any real changes, had to be removed somewhat urgently after a malicious hacker broke into the site and injected it with some nasty code that caused our host to temporarily shut us down.

However, the publishing of the new Ten-321 Enterprises Web site is not really the big news. The really big news is that the new Web site I’ve been developing professionally since February of last year debuted today. The changes to the DNS entries were made yesterday afternoon, but did not fully take effect until tonight.

Unfortunately, for reasons of anonymity, I can’t publish the name or address of the Web site, but I am extremely proud of the work I did, and also extremely proud of the team that helped me get the Web site ready for production.

After a very lengthy process of preparation and planning; and an even longer process of trying to obtain an affordable, realistic proposal for a content management system, we finally got the process truly moving forward in approximately March of this year.

After failing to acquire a commercial CMS, I started working to develop a custom CMS just for the new Web site. It took me about three months to get the CMS working well enough to begin putting content into it.

Then, it took about three months for my content team to review, approve and send all of the content for the Web site to me. Once I got it, my assistant and I started putting it onto the Web site (while I continued working on the CMS and fixing any bugs that came up along the way).

I am not generally one to toot my own horn, but I am extremely impressed by the amount of functionality I was able to build into the CMS in such a short period of time. I am simply keeping my fingers crossed at this point to hope that there are no minor bugs in the system that might cause it to spin out of control with a lot of traffic.

I have never had to write anything as scalable as this system needs to be, so I simply do not know for sure what will happen. I tested the site hundreds of times with various load-testing applications, but none of them work exactly the way humans will hit the site, so I will just have to wait, see, and pray that nothing goes seriously wrong once our traffic really picks up.

This Web site was such a humongous undertaking, as we basically created an entirely new Web site from scratch. We acquired an entirely new server (managed by RackSpace). We developed a completely custom CMS. Most of all, we rewrote approximately 75% of the content for the Web site (which came out to about 800 pages). This was no simple facelift for a Web site. This was a complete and total rebirth.

This is, by far, the largest project (of any kind – not just Web site related) I’ve ever completed. I am so excited to see the feedback we will receive once the public begins visiting the new site.

3 Responses

  • admin

    Congrats Curtiss! I know how great it is to see one of your babies go live! It’s like all of that work was worth it.

    The interesting thing about the Web is that it never stops. You put up the site today, tomorrow you make tweaks. Think about how different that is than a magazine or newspaper.

    Can’t wait to hear the user feedback you receive.

  • Thanks for the comment.

    I know what you’re saying about the Web never stopping. I already told the Web Site Committee that we were going to have to begin thinking about the next incarnation of the Web site once we got this one done. However, the next version won’t require nearly as much time or effort as this one did. :)

    The thing about this Web site was the fact that no one had ever really worked professionally on the site. Someone put up a Web site years and years ago as kind of a side project. From there, it just kind of snowballed (I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but at this time, there are over 45,000 files on the old Web server). Our designer tried to make the site a little more presentable when he started working at the College a few years ago, but he is a designer not a coder, so there was only so much he could do.

    Then, I was hired to basically scrap the whole thing and start over again, which is exactly what I did.

    There will be a lot of tweaks to be made to the site as time goes on. I have already made all of our content editors aware of the fact that 99% of the text needs to be revised and reduced to make it more Web-friendly, but we’re off to a good start.

    The great thing about the CMS is that those changes and tweaks can be made globally much more easily than they ever could in the past (the old site was a conglomeration of who knows how many pages all using various Dreamweaver templates – and some even older pages that were using SSI to bring in a “template”).

    I will be sure to share some of the feedback we get (positive and negative) once it starts to pour in.

  • Congrats! I know how you feel about being so busy, I’ve been working a good 12 hours and still have another 5 or so on my plate for tonight -_-; you know, it comes and it goes ;)