Conversion and Home Page Redesign - rivendell harp, custom made andhandcarved by Glenn Hill of Mountain Glen

When Glenn Hill of Mountain Glen Harps called me in january 2014 to discuss the possibility of converting from html to WordPress, I had no clue of the depth of his talent. This incredibly talented woodworker and musician also paints and writes software, and his business is making harps. All kinds of harps, from the classical orchestra style, custom handcarved in brilliant themes and often inset with jewels and other findings, to ethnic and ancient culture harps to the laser harps he helped to pioneer for installations and performances. Just one look at the Rivendell harp tells you Glenn’s work is something special. He also worked on his own website for years, so he had a good understanding of html. However, he knew the site needed to be mobile friendly, and that’s why he called me. Conversion from WordPress to HTML

Working on the conversion from html to WordPress involved installing WordPress on the server manually as the host did not provide an automatic installation tool as most other hosts do. Then installing and configuring the essential plugin suite and theme. Glenn had done a lot of research on themes before we began and had decided on one, but soon afterward he discovered the Divi theme by Elegant Themes and that’s what he went with.

Glenn asked me to do a little editing on his logo, then reinstall it in his theme, but otherwise I was simply copying his content from the old pages and pasting them in the new. Fully designing all of his pages would have been a massive project with a big bottom line. Looking forward to tinkering with the theme and content formatting tools himself, Glenn instead opted for a more budget conscious approach. We activated a maintenance mode plugin so Mountain Glen Harps would display as always to visitors while I worked on the conversion. Redirects are necessary to preserve the site’s search engine ranking from years online and to avoid inconveniences and loss of traffic due to 404 Not Found errors from people following old links. Working out the numerous redirects needed for this extensive site took some time, but they all worked as expected once they were implemented. the project was complete at the end of January.

Home Page Redesign conversion from html to wordpress - screenshot of new home page

Fast forward to August 2014, when Glenn called to tell me he had been so busy since the conversion that he hadn’t had a chance to play with his site at all. He really wanted to take advantage of the great Divi design features, and asked if I would redesign his home page to provide an example that he could learn from.

Divi provides an optional custom page builder with lots of great design options, predesigned or modular so you can build yourself. I started with one of the more awesome home page layouts and proceeded to customize it to effectively present Glenn’s content. First was the slider. Some say sliders are going out of style, but Glenn’s is so fascinating, useful and—due to the extraordinary craftsmanship in his harps—visually beautiful that we believe it transcends styling opinions. He had many images of the gorgeous original harps he has created to work with. I tidied them up, added copyright metadata, and optimized them, then started mixing and matching images. I chose two images to be used as background and featured images for each slide, adding promo text and/or navigation suggestions with linked buttons. Glenn was very pleased with the result.

Next came the intro paragraph from Glenn’s original home page with the Mountain Glen Harps logo, followed by blurb modules, each with an image, introduction and link to pages describing the different types of harps Glenn makes. Again, gorgeous due to the beauty of the harps.

A call to action before having to scroll any further was needed. Next comes a counter with his guarantee on new harps, how long he’s been making them, how many he has created and the number of his customers.

Then we needed to direct traffic to other parts of the site where people could investigate their options for new custom harps in depth with more beautiful images of his harps.

Another call to action is followed by links to price lists and ordering information, then a block with endorsements and more blurbs with image links to more information: harps in stock, Glenn’s bio, repair and maintenance info, harp care, frequently asked questions and his guarantee.

Glenn’s wife owns Markwood Heavenly Strings & Cases. She restrings harps, sells harp strings, and makes custom soft harp cases, among other harp-related professional services. Glenn also writes an external blog, so the next section of the page is devoted to introducing and linking to their other sites.

One last call to action and the footer with contact information bring the adventure that this page, created as part of the conversion, presents to an end. Doing the work was really fun, and it was beyond delightful to read Glenn’s reaction after his first look at his incredible new home page: OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It went on to receive many glowing compliments from clients on his Facebook page, and that’s when we both knew we had nailed it.

Site Migration

I wish I could say that everything went smoothly after the conversion, but soon after its completion we discovered that his web host had some extremely stringent limits on bandwidth when the traffic generated by visitors to the new WordPress site and awesome home page was repeatedly halted by them shutting it down. Not only that, but we learned their shared hosting involved coexisting with thousands of websites on each server, where most other web hosts place hundreds. No wonder we were exhausting the available bandwidth so quickly! These factors caused the site to crash frequently, which was very distressing for both of us and for visitors.

Enter Bluehost! When I realized what needed to be done, I referred Glenn to my Hosting Services page to make a selection of a new web host. His choice of Bluehost was a great one for many reasons, but what helped us immediately was their site migration service. A site that had been well established and tinkered with for years, Mountain Glen Harps had jillions of pages and subpages, hundreds of images, videos, audio files…there was quite the collection of files to move. This is a complex operation, but I have tools that make it pretty painless. Still, while I normally do this myself, I was not confident that I could do so for less than the site migration service Bluehost was offering – $99.00! I advised Glenn to take advantage of this, which he did, and we turned it all over to Bluehost. They moved the site in good time, repointed the additional domains he had hosted on his previous server,  provided support on several sticky points, and everything was working fine after the migration was complete. That was a smart move. Their price for site migration has increased some since that time, but it’s still a great deal if you have a sprawling piece of real estate on your server as Glenn did. Once they were finished I did some housekeeping to make everything tidy, and the conversion was again good to go…for a while…

Glenn contacted me recently to ask if I could help him spruce up his Laser Harps page, for which he had done a complete rewrite of the text. We’ve added a video slideshow, and will soon proceed to add a new portfolio page with individual project pages so prospective customers can learn more about the process of commissioning Glenn to create a custom harp. We will add a new project for the portfolio.