The Play Press

The Play Press


Size: 25 pages

My professional status: independent web designer/developer

Website client: Jean Betts

Dates: August 2016 onwards

Categories: Scoping/pitching/quoting, Client liaison, Project manager, Website designer, Front-end developer, Content-loader, Webmaster, CSS-based layout, CSS3, HTML5, Joomla!, Small sites

Brief: The Play Press is a small independent New Zealand publisher of plays, and specialises in publishing and promoting new New Zealand plays in New Zealand and overseas; to preserve a range of quality scripts and to make texts more accessible for rehearsal and study; and to help generate productions.

The Play Press grew out of *The Women's Play Press collective, launched in 1994 by Lorae Parry, Viv Plumb, Fiona Samuel, Cathy Downes and Jean Betts. WPP was formed initially to publish their plays performed in 1993 in a festival celebrating the centenary of women's suffrage in NZ. Since then, several of these plays have had excellent sales, productions nationally and overseas, and inclusion in school and university curricula. However in 2001, at a time when no one else was publishing any plays, and feeling that there were still too many good scripts (by both men and women) languishing unpublished that needed to be made available, Jean Betts established The Play Press as well.

The Play Press website was built in Joomla! a few years ago and managed by a developer who was no longer able to continue as webmaster due to other commitments. I was asked to take over as webmaster, and to look after the site - updating website content, tweaking the website styling and doing CMS version updates as required.


  • Tracking down the access info for the webhost and contacting the original developer, as the access info I originally received didn't work, and Jean couldn't access the website to edit it either
  • Improving the website's existing styling and formatting, by tidying up a few little elements that weren't quite perfect
  • Helping Jean to update the website as required
  • Updating the website's version of Joomla!, with the help of my programmer Tom St George
  • Rescuing the website and restoring it when it was hacked.

My responsibilities included:

  • Client liaison and project management
  • Liaison with the webhosting company and previous develeoper, in order to regain access to the site's admin backend and editing screens
  • Regaining access to the webhost cPanel so that I could tweak various functional aspects of the website
  • Exploration of the existing Joomla! CMS, figuring out how it worked and how to do updates
  • Identification of a couple of little design and formatting changes that would improve the look and functionality of the website
  • Browser testing of my updates on the live site, to ensure that everything looked good and was behaving properly
  • General webmaster security tasks including the identification and removal of unauthorised users from the CMS, and restoring the website when it was hacked in February 2017
  • Reviewing Joomla! extensions installed on the website, and figuring out how best to manage the regular CMS version update notifications that Joomla! generates
  • Passing the update info onto my programmer Tom St George, so that he could do the CMS updates for us, initially in a Staging environment (a local copy of the live site) to ensure that nothing was broken by the update
  • Overseeing the web host email admin screens, notifying Jean when the email cache was full and freeing up additional storage space on the server by removing unneeded web files - and later sorting out a larger email storage facility with the web hosting company
  • Discussing the range of possibilities for updating the website, providing cost estimates for migrating the site to our preferred webhost and for Tom to do regular updates on Joomla! as we get CMS version update notifications on a weekly basis
  • Ongoing support and loading of new content onto the site, as and when required.

The Play Press website is small and perfectly-formed. I'm really pleased to be able to help Jean take care of the site and provide an extra pair of hands for the more technical aspects. I haven't worked on a Joomla! website before, so it's been an interesting exercise getting my head around how it works. CMSs all have many elements in common, and generally it's a question of identifying these and, on a basic level, figuring out how to update, change or fix the site as necessary.