New Website: American Y-Flyer Sailing Association

New Website: American Y-Flyer Sailing Association
May 7, 2017 Cardinal Acres Web Development

One of my passions is sailing and I have actively raced multiple small one-design dinghies in the midwest since I was 10 years old. I currently own a Y-Flyer and a Laser which I sail out of the Indianapolis Sailing Club.

The Y-Flyer class website was a hodge-podge of Microsoft ASP (“active server pages”), custom Javascript and probably some other stuff held together with duct tape and bailing wire (I lost interest in figuring out the old website’s underpinnings pretty quickly). No one in the class really knew how to effectively update the website which left the class in a quandary.

A member of the class (not myself) stepped forward to take over migrating the site to WordPress (good choice!). Unfortunately, that person had neither the time nor the WordPress expertise to handle the transition effectively. The class ended up with two websites! The new website with some of the content from the old website transitioned over plus the old website containing everything else. Needless to say, it was a disaster (take a look here).

Mistakes made in transitioning the website away from the obsolete, old website were:

  1. doing a “gradual” transition which is never a good idea. Instead of doing that, create a development area where the new website can be put together and then updated en masse.
  2. pages that consisted of nothing more than links or link hierarchies; navigation menus were invented to handle this in a much more graceful manner.
  3. including content as PDFs or other non-HTML formats. Whenever possible, stick with HTML unless you absolutely must retain formatting or when the content isn’t easily displayed via HTML; if that situation, my recommendation is to go with a cross-platform standard format like PDF.
  4. avoid using “placeholder” content. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing text that is obviously intended to be a hyperlink but can’t be clicked because it’s “under construction”.
  5. using the “default” permalink structure (e.g., http://yoursite.com/?page_id=xxx). The “default” WordPress permalink structure should almost never be used; it’s awful. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with permalinks and choose one of the other and much better options.

I took over the job of transitioning ALL of the content from the old websites to a new WordPress website using a new theme with added features. My redesign of the website included:

  • a theme with a homepage image slider to showcase the Y-Flyer itself. If you don’t pull visitors in with your homepage, you’ve lost the battle…
  • a calendar of upcoming regattas implemented with The Events Calendar and Event Tickets with RSVP capability.
  • leveraging Jetpack portfolios to create a listing of Y-Flyer fleets around the country.
  • inclusion of wind forecast data from WindFinder. Adding data that is useful to the visitors of your site goes a long way to keeping them on your site instead of going elsewhere.
  • a classifieds section implemented with WP Adverts.

With a little formatting and polishing of the existing content, the result is a much more usable and aesthetically pleasing website.