Founded in 1945, Guideposts is a spiritual non-profit organization based in Danbury, Connecticut. Originally starting as a publisher of the Guideposts magazine in New York City for 10,000 households, over the decades, the organization grew into one of the leaders in the realm of Christian-based inspirational content.
Currently, the organization still publishes the Guideposts magazine with more than 2,000,000 subscribers but also releases books about faith, fiction novels, collections of devotionals, or prayer content. At the same time, the organization maintains a robust digital presence through its website, e-commerce store, and social media.
Guideposts’ former website had been running on Drupal for several years with the latest version being Drupal 7, which – as a framework – was introduced over a decade ago in 2011. Although Drupal 7’s End of Life has been extended all the way to 2023, new development and maintenance of the platform has become increasingly challenging, especially with a focus on long-term vision and efficiency in mind.
Being a content-driven company, Guideposts has produced and published a lot of content over the years to inspire millions of people around the world. Some of this content, based on Drupal’s database has been created all the way in 2007. As you can imagine, as more content got produced and published, new categories, custom fields and taxonomies started to emerge to expand the Drupal platform and to accommodate for Guideposts’ digital growth.
This project was far from a simple, typical redesign with a new CMS and refresh in mind. Overall, the WordPress development has been only a small portion of a more complex digital transformation project, which included several different areas such as a complex SEO audit, content and taxonomy restructuring, database cleanup, and introduction of new processes and tools for increased efficiency and general future-proofing.
A complex data structure spanning 15 years has been an essential starting point of the project resulting in an essential mapping audit covering an in-depth breakdown of Drupal’s source database and how this would translate into the WordPress project. You name it – custom fields, post types, taxonomies, data model changes, user permissions remapping all the way to a list of plugins, and database routine import steps to ensure that every piece of content is successfully migrated from Drupal to WordPress.
In the meantime, individual design blocks have been designed as one of the key project outcomes was an overall modernization of the website’s user interface and user experience. Starting with the core user flows, such as daily devotionals, all the way to a redesigned newsletter preference center, a number of designs have been researched, discussed, user-tested, and eventually approved. Of course, many elements have been designed with reusability in mind to allow further performance boosts.
Both the analytical and design parts of the project got tied in together during the development phase, where the individual design blocks were matched to the mapped post types and custom fields to ensure not just their consistency throughout the whole website but also to confirm functionalities for each block that might not have been visible from the Drupal’s code and database audit alone.
Due to the nature and size of this project, apart from our standard, complex QA process, the new WordPress site has undergone a thorough SEO technical audit to ensure all redirects, as well as taxonomical and navigational changes, are reflected.
Although the re-launch of Guideposts’ website on WordPress in September 2022 has been an important milestone in the company’s digital presence, its digital roadmap is far from finished.
As this digital transformation project allowed Guideposts not just to introduce a new, modern look and feel for its website but also to restructure its content structure, introduce new functionalities, and optimized the UI for its mobile users, plenty of digital opportunities surfaced.
Phase 2 of the development project has primarily focused on the website’s overall optimization and speed to ensure an optimal experience for all its visitors across all native and custom post and content types on the WordPress site. In addition, this phase allowed a more granular analysis and development of the organization’s core pages such as the About Us page or the donations user flow with an introduction of further UX analysis and A/B tests.
Lastly, the e-commerce project has been initiated to eventually decommission Guideposts’ current e-commerce experience on Magento in favor of WooCommerce to provide customers with a more unified shopping experience from start to finish.
Although one might think that due to its 77 years of history, Guideposts as an organization could be resistant to modern digital trends, that could not be further from the truth. Throughout this digital transformation project, Guideposts, as a partner, provided meaningful insights and fundamental development input during the duration of the project to ensure its new digital presence will push the organization into the modern digital realm thanks to improved user experience as well as the technological shift.
Furthermore, thanks to the new WordPress development, the planned e-commerce project on WooCommerce, and also the additional functionalities in the roadmap, Guideposts further establishes its role as a leading Christian spiritual organization both online and offline.
Based on our initial mapping audit, it has become clear that due to the amount of custom fields, post types and taxonomies, a high-performing infrastructure would be crucial to deliver the best possible user experience. Starting at the hosting provider itself, available caching solutions all the way to plugins that would be orchestrated in a careful balance.
Due to its performance, footprint and customizability, Astra has been chosen as the theme of choice for the project. It has been combined with Elementor as a preferred page builder due to its maturity as well as custom code options that allowed us to improve its performance, reduce the DOM size and reduce the necessary CPU load.
- Notable Integrations
- WP Rocket
- Yoast SEO