Using WordPress and ACF To Modernize Spaghetti Code

Older codebases can become too complex to manage efficiently. A combination of WordPress and Advanced Custom Fields gives companies more control over their sites while lowering maintenance costs.

Successful websites all face one unavoidable hurdle: maintaining their code without losing the audience they’ve worked hard to build.

Too often companies choose to keep working with a chaotic code base rather than risk everything on a new system.

That’s a dangerous gamble. Older programs tend to heavily rely on poorly structured, hard-to-maintain spaghetti code, and adding modern features on top of it only makes things worse. It’s a house of cards that will inevitably collapse.

Instead of overspending on maintenance, consider reworking the entire system into something which is easy to run and cost-effective to maintain.

Depending on Spaghetti Code

As a company grows, they accumulate SEO-ranked content and backlinks that drive traffic to the page. This web of connections generates new leads, conversions, and advertising revenue.

Content has the added benefit of boosting a company’s reputations, positioning them as knowledge leaders in their industry.

SEO and content represent a valuable asset. Under business models that rely on income from advertising, connections are a company’s main source of revenue.

They can be worth a surprising amount - literally millions in many cases.

It takes time to build that kind of interconnectedness, though. That means these sites were often built before the modern era of website architecture.

Programming philosophies weren’t designed with scaling in mind, so as websites grow their code base becomes impossibly complicated. New features are added using jury-rigged solutions that impact performance.

Even routine updates involve a delicate balancing act. Developers call this tangled web of logic “spaghetti code”.

Eventually the codebase becomes so convoluted and arcane that making changes is a high-stress event. There’s a constant risk of damaging the site or losing content (and SEO rankings) during an update.

IT teams are frustrated, the company spends increasingly large amounts for maintenance, and the problem keeps getting worse.

Time for A Change

Despite fears about losing content and damaging SEO, there comes a point when companies can’t keep using their old spaghetti code and still meet business goals.

Companies reach their limit for a lot of reasons, including:

The site isn’t mobile-friendly.

Under Google’s new “mobile-first” algorithms every company that wants to rank needs to prioritize mobile platforms.

The site looks outdated

Tired sites make the company look equally tired, and that’s not a great way to win new customers.

Team members have to go to IT for updates

Tech talent is in short supply these days, and low value tasks like updating content wastes their time.

New features can’t easily be added to the spaghetti code

Never underestimate the opportunity cost of not being able to use modern tools, such as analytics.

Foundational tools are no longer supported

Most businesses switch to a modern website before this point, but even the most hesitant need to act when foundational tools are no longer supported by their creators.

Once the need for a new website is realized, some companies try to rush into the most advanced or cutting-edge solution they can find. The idea is that newer tools last longer.

However, like any tech investment it’s important to choose based on business needs. Look for tools that have a modern look, are mobile friendly, and can be updated by regular staff without a developer’s help.

Most importantly, there should be no risk of losing valuable content or SEO connections.

To WordPress or not to WordPress?

One of the best, most reliable platforms around is WordPress. It’s built on the LAMP stack, which is entirely open source, so the startup investment is very low.

Employees can learn to navigate the content management system (CMS) easily, letting them be more responsive to customers. There are thousands of themes at all price points, and custom themes are simple to build thanks to CSS frameworks.

It’s not a perfect solution for every need. Once built WordPress themes are hard to customize to a company’s exact specifications.

Most basic themes are built "burger style", with the header and footer as the “bread” and content sandwiched in between as the “burger”.

Some themes do have pages with multiple columns that are built on a “responsive” framework. However, these often don't allow a user to customize things separately for mobile and large-screen users.

Security can be a risk, too. WordPress is enormously popular, which means it’s a large target for malicious actors. Developers need to pay special attention to ensure proper maintenance and security measures are taken.

Finally, it’s a simple truth that giving users a CMS gives them license to make an ugly site. Less restrictive themes allow more freedom, but they also let team members destroy an attractive theme while trying to add new content.

ACF To the Rescue

Despite its limitations, WordPress is a good solution. It’s popular for a reason; even out of the box it outperforms competitors like Joomla and Drupal. The trick is to get around WordPress’s limitations using tools that add functionality.

A great option for enterprise purposes is Advanced Custom Fields (ACF). This plugin turbocharges WordPress by creating a complex user interface for customizing fields without using code.

Non-technical team members can create, edit, and arrange fields in more detail while still having style limitations that keep the site attractive and mobile friendly.

ACF reduces the downsides of WordPress while keeping the benefits. In short, it gives WordPress “superpowers”.

Making the Leap

Leaving spaghetti code behind is the only way to protect SEO connections and content in the long run. There are risks to reworking an entire website, but reliable solutions like WordPress mitigate those risks. Now is the time to consider a change- before that tangled codebase collapses in on itself.

Ready to throw your spaghetti code in the trash? Set up a free consultation to find out how Concepta can lower your IT budget and increase agility with a dynamic new WordPress site!

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