Inside The Relaunch Of Gamegate2k.Com
I’ve been distracted from this blog for a bit. For a reason which now you’ll see. Gamegate2k.Com had its relaunch after a significant amount of custom coding in WordPress. I started development in WordPress 2.7. 2.8 came out shortly before the release. I was able to upgrade with only a 2 hour setback worth of bugs.
The most impressive features on the new site have to do with the way the menu’s dynamically generate on each type of template page.
WordPress by nature lends itself to having expired content which is buried within its archives. Some users don’t even enable the archives in their sidebar.
I really don’t like that content model at all. So I set out to change it and I used the redesign of gamegate2k.com as a proof of concept.
By allowing sectioning and paging abilities on the combination of tag AND category pages you no longer have to rely on users finding old pages through a search engine. Something many bloggers notice after sometimes a few months of posting.
In some cases bringing in a new custom taxonomy can provide a further dimension of this. Combined with proper menu output, it is a powerful way to turn a blogging platform into a CMS with “real” website qualities.
Old vs New Design
The old design was a very simple php includes base design. The site had been around for close to 10 years without too many enhancements. There was no backend.
The new design in WordPress 2.8.
Unique features that were customized specifically for this site:
- Intersection of tags and categories – http://gamegate2k.com/game/freelancer is a category page for freelancer and http://gamegate2k.com/category/guides/ is a list of all things tagged “guide”, then the “section” on both of those would result in a list of just freelancer guides. Like so: http://gamegate2k.com/game/freelancer/section/guides/ (Note: I renamed tags to be “categories”).
- SSO Forum – Single Sign On with bbPress.org Forum. Forum was converted from a vBulletin 3 forum which used to be here: http://virtualfragment.net (I’m repuposing this domain in the next few months). There is no way to quickly convert vBulletin to bbPress. I had to literally map each sql column with my own script and automate it from there.
- Alternating background colors on content bars – Rewriting function for the class tags that get output or completly calling a custom query/output for display.
- Super Cache with dynamic integration – This was necessary to make my custom captcha on every page work and for future features that need to be more dynamic.
- Category display with tag listing of which were only used in that particular category
Custom plugin output – Usually accomplished with a custom query. Mainly done for performance improvements and modified layout from what was available out of the box.
- Jquery Sidebar Menu – Menu automatically expands the section you are in when on a single page/post.
- SEO Titles – On a per case basis the title will modify itself to include all category/tag/titles on posts or sections.
Auto SEO Meta Tags – On single pages the title is analyzed and a dynamic list of meta keywords and description is created on the fly. It does this in conjunction with category and tag assignments on a post to automatically create long tail keywords.
- Seperate caching (outside of SuperCache or in addition to) for intense queries. For performance gains. The games list output with tag relations on a per category basis is using this for example.
- Captcha – This captcha is custom and an improved version of
Enhanced Numbered Equation CAPTCHA – Killing Web Spam – Part 2 to work with (excluded from) cache properly.
- Dynamic menu generation – Based on current category, tag, or combination of the two.
- Dynamic video generation – If videos for that section exists, display the most recent, otherwise display a random selection of one of the 3 most recent videos added on the site in any category.
- Contributor setup - users can sign up and submit their own articles. They can also update their own articles. Each time they add/edit the page an admin needs to approve it for it to show up live.
- Unique Tagging – IE “video” or “sticky” tags are special in terms of what happens to posts that are tagged like that. They are excluded from output in the dynamic menu.
Plugin Based Features
These features were built on existing plugins but slightly modified in some cases:
- Post Revisions (modified for submitted content)
- Most Popular Pages
- Recent comments – Per category basis
- Ajax Login
- Thickbox for images in posts
- Custom Taxonomies
- Flash Gaming
- Comment highlighting (custom output)
- Registration enhancements
- Auto Backups
- D/L Management
- Role/admin modifications
Over the course of the next few months, I plan on taking some time to build some of the above features either as full plugins, or write a tutorial to explain how to do it. If you’re particularly interested in one of the features, comment on it here and it will increase the chances of me choosing to do that one next.
A few upcoming functions I’m working on:
- Review type posts with multi-star ratings.
- Contributor ads/links.
- Top Contributors
- Automated Wallpaper/Screenshot sectional posts from a group of images. Lightbox/Thickbox enhanced.
- Additional auto SEO system based on incoming keywords
- Hit logging/tracking
- Google Analytics API integration
- Tips in a quick list style (short posts that show up from a random selection on the page).
- Pull quotes from other articles that are part of the tips quick list.
- Expansion of download sections layout and functionalities.
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