Helping “Fug Nation” achieve independence

Well Played, Inc. the team behind enlisted the help of Webinista with a server migration. The company, around since the early 2000s, was about to return to independent publishing after more than a decade with a media company that also provided their web hosting and development spport.

The challenge

Heather & Jessica are a writing duo — they're not technologists. They needed help choosing a service that could handle their monthly traffic, manage their server security, and be proactive about identifying and mitigating threats.

Well Played also needed a developer and project lead to guide and manage the process of moving a 4.5GB MySQL database and an enterprise WordPress instance between servers — and making it work in the new environment.

How Webinista helped

Webinista helped Well Played return to independent publishing in two phases.

Phase one: Good service or good sales pitch?

In phase one, I recommended managed web hosting vendors, and worked with Well Played to gather and analyze vendor proposals. I served in an advisory role, helping Well Played figure out what services and features they would definitely need versus what would be good to have. In short, I helped them understand when a sales pitch was more sizzle than service.

Ultimately, Well Played landed with WPEngine, a leader in managed WordPress hosting. WPEngine provided the level of support they were looking for, and assisted with migrating the database to their servers.

Phase two: Making it work

Phase two was more hands-on. As mentioned above, WPEngine handled the database migration. Since WordPress itself is stable and robust, we ran into relatively few hiccups that were related to it. But we did need to iron out a few wrinkles.

  • Image storage and migration: how can you effectively move tens of thousands of image files and to where do you move them?
  • Subdomains: In order to retain the site's position in Google image search, we wanted to ensure that we retained existing sub-domains and redirects.
  • HTTPS: We wanted to ensure that administrative or reader logins were not sent to the server as clear text. We also wanted to protect readers from things like network-level code injections.

Amazon Web Services Simple Storage Service for images

GoFugYourself is an image-heavy site. Their publishing system automatically generates images for thumbnails, slide shows, and articles. As a result, they had tens of thousands of images to store and move.

Luckily, their previous publisher was using Amazon Simple Storage Service (aka S3) to store and serve images. This made migration a breeze. We just needed to set up an S3 bucket and user credentials to allow their publisher to copy those assets to the GoFugYourself account.

Subdomains and Route53 for DNS management

Since S3 required having an Amazon Web Services account, we decided to also use Route53 to manage their DNS records. This let us retain their mail, mobile, and static asset server sub-domains. And when coupled with S3, we could also use Route53 to manage redirects. Using Route53 saved the client from having to use an additional service such as CloudFlare.

HTTPS is included with WPEngine

Finally, WPEngine also makes it easy to add HTTPS support. They use Let's Encrypt as a provider. Adding an SSL/TLS certificate is as easy as making a request.

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