Site Development – Legal Insurrection
Legal Insurrection is a popular political blog with very active posters and a lively comment section. The site was originally set up on blogspot using a stock template and after two years of operation had about 3500 posts and 32,000 comments.
For this project, we brought in a professional designer who worked very closely with the client and Trionic Labs. The end result is a beautiful custom design with a great new look and significant improvements in both clarity and readability. A number of custom design features give this site a distinctive appearance, but we also brought over accent colors and the title typeface from the original site to provide a connection between old and new.
The migration process involved translating a large blogspot export into format suitable for import into WordPress. Care was taken to make sure that all posts, meta and comments were transferred properly and render correctly on the new site. A custom WordPress theme was developed to implement the new design. Due to the relatively high traffic on the site, care was taken to minimize queries and optimize the template code. In addition, static caching for key site elements is being used to reduce server load.
Blogs I Read
Blogs I Read is a special feature developed specifically for this site. This is a specialized limited blogroll and instead of simply displaying links to the sites on the list, the list includes the title and link to the latest post for each site and is ordered in reverse chronological order.
The initial approach was to use an existing WordPress plugin that grabs the rss feeds for sites on a blogroll. However, efficiency issues and a high failure rate caused us to abandon that approach and instead move toward a custom solution.
The new rss tracking solution is script base and runs as a scheduled job. This allows us to schedule the updates at a chosen frequency rather that be limited by the update rate of the plugin (which had a minimum update frequency of 1 hour). It also means that the rss scan and generating the feature content is outside of WordPress, and thus generated without the overhead of Apache and PHP. The end result is another relevant and fresh section in the sidebar that takes it beyond the usual dull list of archives and advertisements.
Of The Day
Another interesting feature on the sidebar is the Of The Day features. The client wanted to be able to highlight a blog post, a blog and a video in the sidebar each day. They also wanted the ability to keep track of past items and schedule future items for each category as well as the ability to post an Announcement on occasion.
The solution was to develop a custom WordPress plugin which provides an interface for site administrators and lets them add new content for any category and select a date that it should appear. This allows the editors to post content on a day to day basis or queue up a week’s worth of content at one time. Placing the highlighted content in the sidebar, the site has placed a dynamic and potentially interesting feature in a content block that is usually dull and static.