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I maintain a site for an annual event: http://abetterworldbydesign.com . Every year after the event, we struggle with the question of how to change the site to reflect an archive of the past year's event and focus on the content for the upcoming future event.

The site runs WordPress Multisite, which makes it easy to create a new sub-site every year. We have gone back and forth between:

A. Creating a new site for next year's event and moving the past event to a sub-site (e.g. http://abetterworldbydesign.com/2010 ) and providing an index of all past year's sites ( http://www.abetterworldbydesign.com/about-us/past-conferences/ ).

B. Updating the current site to reflect the upcoming year and capturing archive info from the past year on a single page ( http://www.abetterworldbydesign.com/2009/2008.php ). Here, the old site essentially disappears.

We have been re designing the site every year but don't want to have to do that going forward if we can avoid it, just for the sake of not reinventing the wheel.

If we continue to go with option A, how would we clearly distinguish the 2011 site from the 2012 site if they essentially use the same or a slightly modified WordPress theme?

More broadly, what is the recommended approach for this situation?

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3 Answers 3

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I prefer option A, but do make the index easy to find on the current year's site, AND a link to the current year from all previous year sites. That second one is important as search traffic can land in those older years more than you'd think, and giving people a way to clearly jump to the current year will avoid a lot of frustration.

As for differentiating the year, build some large display into the theme header that shows the year prominently. Each year will have its own unique label even though a common look ties them all together.

Broadly put, keep the content stable and provide clear identification and navigation between current vs. archive. This should serve the needs of people who show up with one of two things in mind: the event coming up or events in the past. You'll make them both happy this way.

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You can create the sites in advance in the /year template, and have the main URL redirect to the latest site. This way you never move the site and mess up your direct links.

As to distinguishing previous sites from the current one - an approach I would really love to try is having the old sites in black and white, placing the colorful button leading to the current site in a prominent location, probably in the header.

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This helps in the W3C that "cool URIs don't change": w3.org/Provider/Style/URI –  Pau Giner Dec 4 '11 at 20:08
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Make a bold statement about the year. And a section for the archive. A floating bar on the top with each year would be good for getting visits on previous events.

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