Upgrade a static HTML website to a content management system

Northwest Cellars' bodacious site upgrade – A complex blend with a big finish

Northwest Cellars produces and distributes high-quality, affordable wines with custom-designed labels. Their award-winning wines are highly acclaimed by both clients and the wine press.

nwcmObjective
Make Northwest Cellars website mobile-friendly

Solution
From little objectives, bigger projects grow. There were several major issues to consider that would affect how the Northwest Cellars website might become more friendly to mobile users. On a static html site, it could be as simple as adding a stylesheet to adjust the page to fit on a mobile screen. However, the site was partially static html, with a content management system (CMS) extension for the Events Calendar and Wine Label Galleries sections, so one new stylesheet couldn't have reasonably handled all the work. Many stylesheets would have made the site overly complicated.

We decided that it was time to evolve – to "clean house" and upgrade to a fully dynamic CMS. We learned a new phrase from the search engine optimization team: "Is the juice worth the squeeze?" And so we squeezed for the dynamic CMS, because it would be worth some sweet juice later on. In addition to simplifying the transition to a mobile version, the database would also add extensibility needed to manage future growth challenges that static web pages simply can't overcome.

Revised Objective
Make Northwest Cellars website mobile-friendly and extensible

Transition
The three main phases of the transition were structure, content and search engine optimization.

We began the transition with the structure. We installed and configured a Joomla content management system. The current Events Calendar and Wine Label Gallery and existing data elements were copied into the new database. Next was to select and customize a template according to Northwest Cellars' brand standards. This gave us the container into which the existing static html content could then be poured.

Next came transferring the existing content from static pages, including all keywords. This took the bulk of the time on the project, but well worth the effort for future updates. Because the CMS is managed by a database, the existing files were easily reorganized by category. The modular nature of the elements means that files can be sorted, reorganized and restructured as necessary to suit whatever expansion is required.

nwcl-newFinally, we worked with an outside Search Engine Optimization (SEO) team to coordinate the sitemap, menu structure, and old to new URLs - which became the diagram they needed for redirecting the old pages to the new pages.

Launch
The website has been given a face-lift, and by maintaining a similar sitemap and keeping the core brand colors, the familiarity helps existing customers easily find their way around. The mobile layout hierarchy has been prioritized so that pertinent information is quick and accessible on a small screen. The CMS allows all site updates to be done in a single, online control panel.

The site launched in mid-September 2012 (one month prior to when this Case Study was written). Early data from Google Analytics suggests a positive outlook. Compared to the month one year previous, the updated site has received a 31% lift in the number of return visitors, a 33% increase in visit duration, and a 23% increase in page views.

We are looking forward to tracking progress and will post updates as more data is gathered.

Visit Northwest Cellars website

“Laura is a very unique combination of artist, designer, creative thinker, marketing maven, and web geek. We wanted to completely redesign our site to be more mobile-friendly, easier to navigate, and also to increase web sales. Laura accomplished all of this with a well-managed, well-thought-out project, on-time and on-budget. Who could ask for anything more?“
Bob Delf, Wine Geek
Northwest Cellars

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