Moving to WordPress: Sunlight of the Spirit

We spent several months with Sunlight of the Spirit, moving to WordPress from HTMLIt’s always exciting to finally reveal a new site to the world, but it’s never easy. If you’ve never read anything by Seth Godin, especially his stuff on “Shipping,” I highly recommend checking it out (his Ship It Journal is recommended reading for any of my clients starting a new project!). He’s really inspiring, and his philosophy on shipping helps me to drive what I do every day. (Nashvillian Jeff Goins has a great post about how he’s been inspired by Seth’s exhortation to “ship it!”) The most recent site we’ve launched, Sunlight of the Spirit, was one that we moved to WordPress from HTML. It had us thinking about the concept of shipping a lot, especially because Gracie joined me in the desire for everything to be perfect before we launched.

Because we worked moving the site to WordPress together – rather than Gracie simply handing it off to me – the project took longer than a standard site build. Gracie did a TON of the work herself, loading in content and products, while I did the CSS and PHP customization. We seemed to run into roadblocks at every turn, from server configuration issues, to plugin compatibility problems… but ultimately, we shipped the site the first week of July, warts and all. It was a really great exercise in letting go of the need for perfection in order to show the project to the world. Through that soft-launch, we discovered some hiccups in the checkout process that there was pretty much no way to know about before launch, and we got really helpful feedback from friends and family that had us heading back into the code to make some changes. The important part, though, was that we had let go of the fear of imperfection and shipped – we had created, and let our little creation out into the wilds of the internet to play.

Moving an eCommerce site to WordPress

One of the things that I really value about this project is that we’ve got before-pictures of the site. I’m excited to share them with you here, especially because the difference is so stark. You can really tell the difference that moving to WordPress has made for Sunlight of the Spirit, both from a bells-and-whistles standpoint and from a visual standpoint.
(click the images below to see the full-size screenshot)

Here’s the new home page: home page
Editor’s note: Unfortunately, we fell down on the job and didn’t capture screenshots of every page before the owner sunset the site a few years later, so that image above is all ya get. Pretty, though, wasn’t it?

We used iThemes Builder plus their “Threads” child theme to create the site, and did a ton of customizations (the static navigation menu and the social tabs on the right stand out as the most noticeable changes). This also allowed us to make the site responsive (our first responsive site after doing it for the BIPI site itself!) relatively painlessly. This means that visitors can shop for music on their iPhone in a much friendlier way than pinching and squinting like on many sites.

The only part about moving to WordPress that we’re not really happy about has to do with the checkout workflow. If you add something to your cart and go through the checkout, you’ll notice that you have to click through 3 pages just to get sent over to PayPal. Now, if the site were using an onsite payment processor (rather than sending the customer off-site to PayPal like it does now), this wouldn’t be as noticeable. But with very small projects like this one, it doesn’t make sense to pay someone like $20/month for the luxury of accepting credit cards on your site (not to mention having to take on the responsibility of keeping customer financial data secure). When the site starts making plenty of money every month, though, we’ll be able to easily move over to this, thanks to how scalable WordPress is. It’s a perfect example of shipping without perfection. What’s there now works well enough, and the important part is that the site is launched, and the world now has better, easier access to the wonderful music the store has to offer.

If you’re wondering what moving *your* site to WordPress would entail – or what making your existing WordPress site responsive would look like – just drop us a line. I will happily talk your ear off about how awesome responsive web design is and why you really, really want it.

Meanwhile, take a lesson from Gracie’s bravery in shipping her new site – show the world what you’re creating, over and over! Letting it sit behind a curtain away from sunlight isn’t doing anyone any good.

by | Last Updated: Aug 1, 2013 | client spotlights