No one’s second WordPress project should be this complicated, Part 1

So I’ve been working on the intranet at my company since the home page was just a bulleted list.  I marked up the first graphical version of the home page.  Our web browser at the time was Mosaic.

I’ve watched it sprawl and sprawl.  Our search index is something like 1 million documents and that’s with aggressive pruning.  Most of the intranet has never been governed. In conjunction with a colleague in Internal Communications, I’ve been keeping a reasonably well-edited list of deep links into those million-plus documents that has swelled over the years to about 500 links. Everyone loves the links list, because it’s the only reasonable way to navigate that big pile of stuff.

Something happened last year that made someone at a high enough level take notice of the intranet. I am not sure what, but I started hearing – second and third hand – questions from executives about why the intranet wasn’t going to use the same very pricey Java-based web CMS that was being implemented with great success for our external web presences.  This made me nervous, I was sure that wasn’t the right CMS for the intranet.

I was in my yearly review with my manager and we were talking about the future. Without any forethought I suggested that we pitch WordPress as a CMS for the intranet. We already had a multisite install with a few hundred internal blogs that we were running. Users were asking us for WordPress installs constantly so they could stand up new intranet sites. What the hell? It was worth a shot.

The pitch was successful beyond my wildest imaginings. When we got word that our highest level and toughest exec to convince was not only on board but insisting that the entire intranet be put into WordPress…  my first thought was YAYYYYYY and then immediately following upon that was OHSHIT.

I am tech lead on the project and my big task has been to design and implement an enterprise-grade WordPress infrastructure that will allow for safe development and easy deployment for the dev team, and all the right publishing and review processes for our content providers – who will be largely non-technical staff spread across all departments at the company.

I’ve been researching WordPress deployment and infrastructure in general off and on for the last several months (we have to keep the lights on for our existing intranet in the mean time, which can be very time consuming) and now the project is really rolling and I have to have the infrastructure complete by the end of March.

I find I have an interest in writing about the project, WordPress technical concerns and WordPress in general, and this seems like a reasonable place to do it.

Any opinions I state here are, of course, my own, and not representative of my employer.

If you are curious about the day to day of this project, then please follow my work-related Twitter account, @LisaLinnAllen.