Sitemaps and Changing URLs
One of the most important tasks of the web team during a 1 Day with a client who already has an existing website is to ensure that any good search engine juice that they have earned isn’t lost during the website redesign process. Your client is likely not savvy enough to ensure this is happening, so it’s up to you!
The most common issue is when the URLs of a website change, usually for a good reason.
For example, if the client’s old site had URLs with the .html extension such as www.example.com/about.html, using WordPress, the URLs won’t include a .html. Even if you don’t change anything else, the new URL might read www.example.com/about.
We’ll get into exactly how to set up a 301 redirect later, but for now, the most important step is to capture all the old URLs for future use. To do this, we need a sitemap.
Try this tool!
You can generate a sitemap from the old site using this tool: https://www.xml-sitemaps.com. Once you run the sitemap, save the XML sitemap in the Website folder. For practice, get a sitemap for your own website.
Using a Demo Site
Typically if the client has an existing website, we recommend setting up their new 1 Day Website on a testing server of some kind.
You would think it isn’t that big of a deal to have the client’s website down for a single day while you are building their new site, but in the end, the site is usually under production for more like a few days. In addition, you’ll most likely need to reference old text, images, etc. so it’s best if you can continue looking at the old site while you’re building the new one.
Unfortunately, using MAMP / WAMP and localhost doesn’t really work when you need to work live with other people such as the designer and get feedback from the client.
You can handle the testing server in a couple of different ways.
- You could put the site in a subfolder on your own website hosting account.
- You could put the site in a subfolder on the client’s website hosting account.
- If the website host allows, you may be able to have a demo site on the client’s account while things are getting built.
Then, depending on your host, you could set up a subdomain such as demo.example.com or sometimes the host will have an IP address or dummy URL to work with.
The only time we would work live on the site on the primary domain is if the website is brand new. Even then, we’ll typically put up a Construction Plugin until we are ready to go live for the client’s benefit. (Trust me, we always tell them that no one even knows about their new domain and no one is looking at their half-done site, but they will freak out if they think the site is live when there are mistakes on it.)
You’ll work live on the demo site until you get final approval from the client to put it live.