This is one of our recent websites we have built. It’s slightly unique in it’s style but serves an important function. It’s our first website based around the community!.
Content Management System
As a base of the project, we decided to use WordPress due to its flexibility to do just about anything we needed. The content management system allows us to manage our visual media, blog posts, business directory listings, and much more!. We needed something with a good User Interface and the ability for “nontechies” to navigate easily!.
We went for the popular Kadence theme and used a starter theme to build off. The kadence theme allows us to implement all the features we needed with next to no code and was also quite light on server requests. It also has been optimized for mobile viewing which we anticipated most of our audience would be viewing from. We did look at a few options with the themes but we were concerned that a number of them required quite heavy plugins with the need for site builders such as Elementor. It’s like when you go and get a new laptop and see it has several anti-virus and office already installed. We really didn’t need this so we went for a barebones theme but was powerful enough to suit our needs.
The plugin structure was pretty simple. Below is a list of features and how we used powerful but lightweight plugins.
Business Directory Listings
Perhaps the biggest challenge we faced was having a powerful but useable business directory. We needed it so people could add, edit and submit listings through the frontend of the website. Another issue we found is that loads of plugins “took over” the website by adding there own theme but we managed to use “directoise” as a system. Once setup it has worked flawlessly with Kadence inheriting styling and kept a clean modern feel to the UI. Furthermore, the code for the plugin was quite neat and allowed us to add dashboard links without any real hardship and make it feel more of a custom feel.
User Submitted Posts
This was where things got tricky. Part of the website’s core feature list was to have a section where users could add posts and notices without logging in as an Admin. We found a plugin called WordPress User Frontend OR WPUF. It seemed quite easy to set up forms, allocate them to a post type. Unfortunately, we did some into a few bugs along the way with this. We had an issue where people tried uploading pictures with their posts but then losing the ability to submit… We found this to be a roadblock but we soon overcome some trickery with the codebase.
Once this was sorted it was quite simple to implement into our already existing user interface.
Part of the website was to allow people to view live train times. This was something we were keen to add early on, however, WordPress doesn’t currently have a premade plugin for this, so we had to go native and find an API with Network Rail and call it through GET requests. We soon found out you needed to pay a fee to use the API, we felt it wasn’t worth considering we were only pulling data for one branch line station. After a bit of googling, we found a source that allowed us to Iframe the website into ours and has worked flawlessly ever since.
Those were the key features of the website but we also wanted to have it hosted somewhere where we could scale easily and not be capped by bandwidth. We already had experience with Linux servers on the team so we decided to use Cloudways with a Vultr server. We are amazed at how fast the server is and easy to setup without any large costs involved. The website you are viewing this on is using Cloudways and we are 100% satisfied with the service!.
As stated earlier, the website was a different project, something we hadn’t done before. We are pleased with the result and you can now view it here – https://braintreehub.co.uk
If you would like to have your own community website please contact us today