Case Study: Shape Shifters by Derek Vreeland

Client: Dr. Derek Vreeland, author
Design: Kerry Layton

The site promotes Derek's first book "Shape Shifters" which he is self-publishing and, of course, self marketing. The site introduces the book, provides a free chapter, showcases endorsements and speaking events, and sells. Search Engine Optimization was of primary importance, as it almost always is.

For the CMS of the site I once again used Expression Engine. This tool really is a huge time saver and has been able to handle every challenge I've thrown at it. I have to actually remind myself that I can code PHP with it if I really want to; I just haven't found many cases that warrant it.

What Expression Engine is doing:
- the home page features some news items which come from a custom weblog and is available via RSS or Atom
- the Speaking Engagements form is a Solspace Freeform form
- the Contact form is a straight forward EE email contact form
- templates are constructed in distinct template groups, and common elements are brought together via sub-templates using the {embed=template} tags

I haven't stressed too much about the templating strategy I've used so far, primarily relying on the use of the embed tag, but I still feel like I'm doing old school ASP include tags. I would much prefer a solution more akin to the master templates in ASP.NET. Like I said, this works so I haven't stressed to much about that.

Derek currently blogs via Blogger. In the future we may bring that in to Expression Engine also.

Paypal to Sell
Derek has one product. While the book is carried at Amazon, Derek stands to make a little more if he can sell the book directly. To that end we simply setup a Premier Account (which you may upgrade to from a personal account). This allows him to accept most any payment type. Within Paypal he generates a button for the book which goes on his product page. Paypal handles all the shopping cart and payment services as well as allowing Derek to easily generate shipping details for labels and tracking.

I've been doing quite a bit of e-commerce lately and I still love the simplicity of the Paypal model for this kind of thing.

Couple More Technical Bits
I took the opportunity to utilize a couple of new techniques that I have been finding to be very useful. I deal with each of those in subsequent, short postings.

Transparent PNGs
CSS Menu Image Rollover Menus
Scrolling Text Box


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