Over 100 Years of History, Time to Focus Forward

Link and images at the bottom.

ACU's "The Optimist" Logo

Abilene Christian University’s The Optimist was founded in 1912 and has faithfully served the university ever since. This was the time for them to shift. They were going to reduce their printed output and emphasize their website as the primary point of contact for the student news source. Their current website had served them well (viewable at archive.acuoptimist.com) but they needed some help to move forward.

Specific goals they wanted to achieve:

  • Faster load time
  • More reliable hosting
  • Updated visual design
  • Ability to keep WordPress and all plugins updated without causing problems
  • Increased content organization

To Every Thing There is a Season, Even Templates

We discussed having the student staff provide a fully custom visual design (we prefer custom design when possible) but in the end landed on an existing theme, News Pro by StudioPress. This theme is built on the Genesis WordPress framework and in our opinion is ideal for a site with content needs like The Optimist. We customized the theme to fit their specific visual needs and added quite a bit of extra functionality from where we started to help facilitate and improve their workflow.

Importing is Important

One of the greatest challenges on this project was importing content. We decided to import all content within a certain date range and then only hand-picked content that was older. Since they were going to keep their previous website online via an “archive” subdomain, this approach made sense. There were roughly 4,000 posts to import and even though we were going from WordPress to WordPress, the difference in versions and how the data was formatted by customizations and plugins was enough to not be able to use automated import tools. Thankfully we were able to use prior experience in custom scripting and database manipulation to get the import done and on time.