Case Studies

News Sites Launched This Weekend for DAWC and Blaine Bartel


Client: Dental Assisting of West County
Design: Kerry Layton
Platform: Expression Engine
Notes: used the Freeform module from Solspace to handle info request, registration, and contact forms


Client: Blaine Bartel, Pastor of Northstar Church
Design: C1Design
Platform: Expression Engine
Notes: used Better Meta and Social Bookmarks from Leevi Graham, Tags from Solspace, and the Twitter plugin.

Categories: Case StudiesExpression EngineGeneralPermalink

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


Categories: Case StudiesExpression EnginePermalink

Case Study: Advent Conspiracy

Client: Boxing Clever (agency) and Advent Conspiracy


Design: Boxing Clever


Advent Conspiracy is an organization that promotes a spirit of giving during the holiday season; specifically giving to Living Water International, a group that digs water wells in impoverished nations providing fresh, clean water where dirty, diseased water is the norm.

The core call of the site is the "Enter the Story". The site promotes stories from contributors who are directly involved with this effort around the world. Theses people, whether individuals, churches, or organizations register on the site and submit their story with accompanying photos. Those stories are then plotted on a world map for everyone to share and from which to gain inspiration.

Here's a quick rundown of the functionality:

- Content Management (CMS)

- News blurbs on home page

- Video feature on home page and Videos section

- Membership with special registration

- Story display via world map

- Story management form

- Blog w/ RSS & ATOM

- Opt-in subscription

There are also some workflow issues pertaining to the user registration and story submissions that are handled by the site administrators.

The Tools

We chose to leverage the flexibility and extensibility of Expression Engine for the site, and I'm very pleased with how this turned out. EE, along with very cool modules, extensions and plugins that were employed to make this site work, powers the site itself, the news, the blog, the video section (which is Flash FLVs and/or YouTube), the story data, the registration and membership, and the CMS needs.

For the map and story syndication we ended up going with a Trippermap + Flickr mashup. We researched a variety of mapping solutions and considered Google maps as well as building something ourselves. While the developer in me would have loved to tackle a Google mashup or developed a solution more from the ground up, we just didn't have the time and resources in this project to tackle that. Adding a Flickr account and admin to the mix is an added level of management, but it works well with the necessary workflow at the client to approve and manage the story entries and photos.

So, that's the high level pass at this site. Check it out. [AC] has some great content, especially the videos and brochures in the resources section.

In upcoming posts I'll dig deeper into how these features were implemented.


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