A plea for HELP – Site Starting to Take Off!

Hey guys,

Site url: http://www.physicianassistanted.com

I need help. Here’s the deal. I’m a physician assistant who has been working in academia for the last four years. When entering the educational arena, I couldn’t believe how little collaboration there was amongst faculty members across the nation. I also couldn’t believe how there was an amazing lack of resources for prospective PA students in helping them to land a seat in PA School. A year and a half ago I knew nothing about building websites. Then I had an idea to create an amazing website for all things Physician Assistant Education. Now the site is starting to take off. I have over 500 members in my Buddypress Community, over a hundred which are paying subscribers [thanks for the Membership plugin Barry :slight_smile:], and more that are joining every day. The site is still in its infancy and I haven’t done any marketing. I anticipate these numbers will only climb dramatically as more content and user interactivity is implemented. I’m still in an early beta and yet I’m receiving over 200 visits per day and more than 100 new unique visitors per day.

This is the reason I need help. If you go to my website, you would think I know a ton about building websites. The problem? I feel that I still know only very little. It’s amazing that a guy like me can do so much without having any programming skills. Truly it’s a testament to the tools available nowadays (i.e., WordPress and Plugins), as well as a testament to being a part of the ever-so-helpful WPMU Dev community (thanks to everybody for all the help thus far!). I’ve arrived at a point where I can no longer spend so much time figuring out every bug or problem that arises. I need to dedicate my time to developing content and exploring new ideas. For example, I recently tried to upgrade my Membership plugin from 1.0.5 to 2.0.2. How? Well, because I don’t know how to set up a testing site all that well, I just did it live late at night so if anything busted I could backtrack. I tested it, it didn’t work, so I reinstalled 1.0.5. So now I need some help with setting up a testing environment. This is just one example. There are so many little things that come up all the time that I need help with.

So, as this is not really a specific job, rather a solicitation to form a working relationship, I thought I would begin here. What I need is someone who is willing to learn about my site, my goals, and my vision for the future, and then to be a regular consultant thereafter. This person needs to be good with WordPress, Buddypress, and all of the Plugins available through WPMU Dev. They should have some background knowledge of PHP and MySQL. More than anything else, I want them to recognize the amazing potential of this website so they can put their heart into it a little. So if you’re that person, or know someone who might fit the bill, please let me know and we can chat! If not, could anyone please provide me with advice on how to set up an excellent testing environment so I don’t have to try new plugins on a live site anymore :slight_smile:

I’m using Studio Theme 1.2.9.1, BP 1.2.8, and several plugins including Membership 1.0.5 and trying to upgrade to 2.0.3.

Thanks in advance for any comments!

  • Philip John
    • DEV MAN’s Apprentice

    I’m sure there are plenty of members who will be able to offer their services!

    Equally there will be plenty of views on test environments so you should get lots of responses.

    I’ve got plenty of my own test areas and I do that by having a separate server (including individual IP addresses) where I simple copy over the database and install. I then change my hosts file (pn Windows) to point to that new sever.

    I find that the best way to view the test site as it should be an exact copy, including URLs.

    Phil

  • rossagrant
    • The Incredible Code Injector

    Hey David!

    Wow, sounds like you are really onto something with your site mate! Well done!

    I too am interested in testing environments. My site launches in 3 weeks and I will need a safe way to try things out away from the live site!

    @phil

    I’ve just found a premium plugin called WP Twin.

    http://wptwin.net/

    Quite expensive but may be a way to totally clone a site easily for testing on a different server?

  • Saunt Valerian
    • The Bug Hunter

    This is a good start to a discussion that I need to be in on. My site isn’t taking off like Phil’s, but I do need to understand how to setup a test site.

    Like Phil, I know very little (but technology lets me fake it!). My setup isn’t hugely different from Phil’s except that I’m not running any membership/suppoter plugins yet. I’m also running it WPMU/BP on shared hosting at TMDHosting.

    I realize the need for a test site, but don’t understand how to do one in my situation. I don’t have dedicated server and all that. I’ve considered setting up LAMP on my home computer, but don’t know enough about it to do it and I’m always reading that “I couldn’t get this to work on my localhost/XAMP/LAMP/etc” The kind of fighting that seems to go with local (home computer) test sites seems more than I can understand.

    More details and information and a good beginner’s level discussion on test sites is something that would be great. Not to derail Phil’s plea for help, but I know that he’s done so much already on his own. When it comes to learning things like this, the biggest hurdle is getting an understanding of the process and then you get comfortable with doing it.

    Phil, if you knew how to set up a test site, and you had one to bang around on, then perhaps the troubles you are having would be mitigated. Running a program/plugin/theme on a test site would allow you to implement it on your live site much faster.

  • Ovidiu
    • Code Wrangler

    @rossagrant: don’t fall that twin nonsense. there are plenty of those around, trying to rip you off. you can do it with free tools as well and here is a really good one: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/xcloner-backup-and-restore/ has all the bells and whistles and its free but you can buy “support” if you need it, so you can try and if you need help, well, pay :slight_smile:

    as for the rest of the discussion, I also need a testbed. unfortunately, downloading the DB onto a local testbed, is a no-go as I used to live in a country with VERY slow internet connections and the DB is about 1GB uncompressed…

    Very interested in other people’s solution as far as testbeds go.

  • wpcdn
    • Syntax Hero

    Congratulations David!

    For a testbed/sandbox, we always create an installation on the same server. We feel that’s the only effective way, as there can be so many nuances on a server that you could test on a local MAMP installation and then find that things work differently on the actual server. We use a few “spare” domains for testing, and block public access with a maintenance plugin (except for brief windows when we need to test how things look to the public).

    Hope this helps…I know it’s nothing earth-shattering, but it works for us.

    Mark

  • Saunt Valerian
    • The Bug Hunter

    wpcdn, i thought of setting up a test site on the same server using a spare domain using that method there, but how do you handle database stuff? Do you setup a separate database and copy over the primary one each week, or do you link the hidden/test installation into the primary database?

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