First question here so apologies if it's not the right place to ask...
I run a very popular website, frequently attracting tens, if not hundreds of thousands of users daily. It's a game, and uptime is of critical importance to most players.
Here's the catch: it wasn't meant to be popular. It was initially a programming exercise that I just threw out there expecting it to get a few users, then die off. I was wrong...
So, in other words, my dog Patches is now almost three years old, and in thorough need of grooming... but with all the attention he's getting, how can I possibly make it work?
I'm thinking the site needs a complete rebuild from the ground up. Heck, it still uses
iframes instead of real AJAX! In this way I should be able to build the "new version" and then let users migrate seamlessly. What would be the best way to do this though? Should I have the new version use the same database as the old, or should I clone the database to another server to work on? Should I just work in a subfolder, or subdomain, or a whole new domain?
And what would the users think? I mean, the site's been more or less the same amount of butt-ugly for 32 months, would they be thrown off or even alienated by a full redesign? The last thing I want is for all my hard work to send everyone packing.
Any advice on this matter would be very much appreciated.