Big Foot Traveller 大脚印

I created Big Foot Traveller (大脚印) for Green Mussels Investments in 2010. Five years now, I had the pleasure of working with Les and Kin once again on revamping the website.

Throughout the years, the website has grown leaps and bounds. Based on recent content inventory checks, the site was already loaded with 1,300+ pages of high quality articles, contributed by over 70 writers, containing 10,000+ photos in total!

Why the need for revamp

The original site was first implemented in 2010 and it was powered by Drupal 6. By today’s standard, the backend system is considered very outdated. Furthermore, as the site became more popular, it has also become hackers and spammers’ favourite target. On daily basis, we had to combat with hordes of fake registered users/bots trying to get in the website to post spam content.

We could choose to simply update the backend source code, which we had — many times over! But that solved only 1/3 of the problem. The second challenge we faced, is the layout that wasn’t mobile responsive.

Responsive web design was popularised only in 2012-2013 (see Why 2013 Is the Year of Responsive Web Design by Mashable). Which, at the point the site was already loaded with a lot of content. Once again, we could choose to simply implement and replace the theme to make it mobile responsive. But that would not solve the ultimate challenge: The backend that is hard to use.

Without questioning its claim for being one of the most powerful content management systems on earth, there is one thing about Drupal which I really hate to love: Its lack of a decent, reliable, integrated WYSIWYG editor! Many of my hardcore developer peers would laugh at this and tell me WYSIWYG should be dead. But I also remember the time when many Apple fans used to laugh at the right button on a PC mouse. We have every right to take pride in our product, but it is even important that our users enjoy using it. My client did not enjoy using Drupal’s backend editor. So, Drupal had to give way. WordPress is in!

Why WordPress

I don’t want to turn this post into a “Drupal vs WordPress” debate, so I’m going to be brief.

Top three reasons why I chose to build the new Big Foot Traveller (大脚印) website on WordPress:

  1. Integrated WYSIWYG editor — as already mentioned above;
  2. Responsive right out of the box — I’m not referring to the frontend theme, I’m talking about the backend UI which is already responsive. Updating content on mobile device is no longer a fantasy!
  3. SEO right out of the box — from the day it was first created, WordPress has been well know for being the darling to search engines. Interestingly, sites run on WordPress would get good ranking, just like that! Don’t ask me why.

The final product

There is no better way to introduce the final product than using screencast. So please enjoy the following video!

We entered into what became a long term series of projects with Dean after some lengthy due diligence of Web design companies. Whereas other companies were disinterested or willing to say anything to get the job, Dean was honest about what we wanted and what could be done within the time and budget we had and what he could deliver. He was also interested in the projects and added a different perspective that made the sites better. And he consistently met his promises.

His approach to web-architecture is great; he knows what he can do and often sets about stretching himself and delivers some great work. The design work is very good — and he knows that design follows architecture. The budget is also very good. But Dean is a perfectionist so it can take time; but like many things, the wait is well worth it.

In business I have worked with other web companies so i can compare him to those — Dean is more nimble and you talk with the guy who does the work — a direct interface. With larger companies you meet with “sales” and what they promise sometimes is delivered by the technical team. With Dean what’s promised is delivered.

— Les & Kin, Green Mussels Investments

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