Moving house without changing the wallpaper
The Word on Fire team came to us hoping we could solve a fairly large scale problem for them. In short - making changes to their site was costly and cumbersome because it was built on a completely customized CMS, which meant they were having to hire out much of the everyday work that needed to be done on the site. To solve this, they wanted to move to a Wordpress back-end – which meant moving a massive amount of content over to a new system with as little change or disruption as possible on the front end. Due to the popularity and dynamic nature of Bishop Barron's ministry, wordonfire.org gets a lot of daily traffic.
While this was an ambitious undertaking, moving the site to the Wordpress CMS gave them the autonomy they needed to do more work on the website in-house – saving them time and money and giving them a lot of future flexibility.
A painstaking process
The existing site was very complex – with a whole host of different types of resources, all presented on the front end in multiple different areas. First we had to understand the underlying structure of the existing custom CMS, delving deep into the database and code and rooting out all the dependencies and connections. Then we had to find a way to replicate that complexity in Wordpress, in a way that was easily understandable and extensible – with an eye to future updates. To do this we translated the existing front end structure into a fully custom Wordpress theme crafted using Timber and Advanced Custom Fields.
The hard part
At this point we had a mostly functional staging site with no content.
This was where it got really complicated. After a couple of weeks of testing, strategy, and head-down detail-work we'd executed a migration strategy that grabbed all of the content, media, and relationships from the existing site, massaged and cajoled it into a Wordpress-friendly mass, and imported it into the new site.
At this time we also built separate integrations to handle some of the ancillary tasks that the old site was responsible for – in particular creating a new workflow for fulfilling product orders that connects multiple different services including Shopify and Clickfunnels.
We then added further functionality to the site, including an all-new search functionality using Algolia (essential for a site with this much content), and the site was ready to launch.
It's almost certain that most of the many visitors to wordonfire.org had no idea that the site had changed in any way – and that was exactly the definition of success for this project!