New Year, New Website

So, you may have noticed that my website has been revamped. It was not exactly an easy process, but it certainly was not a complete nightmare…although it cost me a bit more than I had intended to spend. However I am very proud of myself and the fact that I was able to do it all by myself.

Changing My WordPress Theme

My previous theme received a lot of compliments initially, with a static page that displayed the post images in a masonry gallery display (or course I wasn’t mindful enough to take a screenshot of what my site looked like!). However as the years went by the plugin that controlled the front page was not rendering well between different browsers. And to my knowledge it wasn’t responsive. So I really felt that in terms of just keeping up with the changes in web design, I needed to move on.

Initially, I was looking a feminine theme, that still echoed my previous site’s color scheme of purple and white. Now, I’ll be the first to say that I have no issues paying a premium WordPress theme. To me, they offer way more in terms of features and design and most of them are $50 or so. So if you don’t have to pay someone else for web design services, which can run anywhere from $40 to $75 per hour; it’s a good deal.

So I headed over to Theme Forest, where I had a bit of unused credit still on my account, so I really thought that I was going to come out ahead here. I found this theme, where I was just blown away with how the demo looked, and how closely the color scheme reflected my previous site. However after I installed it, I just ran into problem after problem. The theme designer had good technical support and did what they could to address my problems. However I think that some theme designers approach their work like someone is building a site from scratch. I had years worth of data and plugins and media that I wanted to retain. And this theme just wasn’t able to play along.

I discovered my current theme after finding this fantastic roundup by Colorlib. Initially I was a bit hard on myself for having to shell out even more cash on a theme. But once it was installed, I felt it was worth it. Tons of customization options and I didn’t find myself dipping into the theme’s php and css code all the time, just to get things to work. In fact, the only custom coding I’ve done so far is the insertion of breadcrumbs in the header to help with navigation, and appending ‘via @RishonaN‘ on Twitter social sharing. Everything else, I’ve been able to customize through the theme’s own dashboard.

wordpress tinkering

many times, tinkering with WordPress’s code is inevitable when you do not have your site designed by a professional

While my new theme has a completely different color scheme, I was able to piece together a new site logo and some random graphics here and there using Foto Flexer. I used this tool to make a new favicon.

Cleaning Out Old WordPress Plugins

With the new theme came new features and I realized that there were plugins I didn’t need anymore. Also with the new WordPress 4.4 core functionality, it’s easier to format and embed media into your posts. I nixed no less than six WordPress plugins on my site upgrade.

From my days of using Joomla, I’ll always suggest that if you know that you are going to be done with a plugin for a while, deactivate it and uninstall it. While WordPress’s backend will confirm that the plugin files have been deleted, check your site directory on your webserver just to be sure. There still may be some files left behind, especially if the plugin created additional folders in either the ‘wp-content’ or ‘wp-includes’ directories.

Changing Web Hosts

At first I didn’t plan to change web hosts. But I did lost $50 on a theme that I ended up not using, so I was looking more closely at how much all of this was costing me. I had been with Hostmonster for more than two years. I really had no complaints about their service. But it was getting increasingly more difficult to shell out $16.99/month for their hosting services. I saw that Bluehost had a deal for $4.95/month for their hosting plan. I always opt for the automatic backups. So a year of hosting + the automatic backup option cost me $83.28. A savings of $103.61 (I had to have both hosting accounts active for the transfer, so only 11 months of savings ultimately)!

So opening the account was the easy part. Transferring my website from one host to the other did make me furrow my brow a bit. Bluehost made it pretty easy when opening the hosting the account by asking if you needed a new domain, or if you had one already. I was able to create my account with my existing domain, even though it was locked and not transferred.

Next I had to go back over to Hostmonster and unlock my domain for transfer as well as getting the EPP authorization code to permit the transfer. I put in the request with Bluehost to transfer the domain. In the meantime, I needed to figure out how to move my website files from one web hosting provider to another.

Moving My WordPress Site

In was a bit nervous about this part because I had never migrated a live WordPress site before. I had found this page, which made the process seem really straightforward and clear. However I ran into a snag when I couldn’t figure out how to get Filezilla (an ftp client) to connect to both my old webhost, and my new one…especially since the new one’s domain hadn’t been transferred yet.

I somehow discovered the All-in-One WP Migration plugin. It had great reviews, but I really wasn’t expecting it to just work and not break something. I installed the plugin, then exported the site (I didn’t create a backup, like it tells you to though). I saved that exported file to my laptop. Then I went over to my Bluehost account, installed a plain installation of WordPress (via the MOJO Marketplace or whatever it’s called).

Then I waited.

I think it was two days or so, I typed in my domain into my web browser and I was presented with a message asking if I wanted WordPress installed. That’s when I knew that my domain was now pointing to my Bluehost account (before this, I couldn’t “see” my WordPress installation on Bluehost because the domain wasn’t active). I finished the WordPress installation, and then installed the All-in-One WP Migration plugin.

All-in-One WP Migration

This free plugin saved me $150!

The very first thing I did was import the site file that the plugin created from my old site and that I had saved locally. It took a bit of time…about 10 minutes or so, but the import was successful, and my site was moved and working just fine! The only small hiccup was that the user information, including the admin information from the old site is carried over too. So I had to login again after the import, using my old login credentials.

Now Bluehost, like many web hosts offers a service to move your site from your old web host for you. The cost was $150. I guess that flat fee makes it worthwhile to some people. But if you have a single WordPress installation, just try the plugin. It’s so simple…and they probably use something just like it.

So I haven’t had time to go through everything, so if you find something that is broken, feel free to let me know. I’m still refining and tweaking some things. But as far as serious downtime, I don’t foresee any of that. There are some new sections on the site, so feel free to look around. Enjoy & as always, thank you for visiting 🙂 .