Earlier this week I wrote about the launch of the new Navigators.org website. It was a project months in the making. Everyone involved is extremely proud of the final product. For those of you who are interested in how websites are made I thought I’d share with you some of what’s being used behind the scenes.
Built by Masterworks
While I usually find myself in the position of designing and developing Navigator website when they’re needed, on a project of this profile and scope the organization hired a large firm called Masterworks to handle it all. And I’m glad they did—the level of technical expertise needed to achieve the different database integrations is well above my skill level.
Built on WordPress
I am absolutely thrilled that we used self-hosted WordPress as the CMS for the new website. The site is being hosted on WP Engine servers, one of the better hosting options out there for WordPress websites.
The site uses a custom theme built on the _s starter theme. This goes against my personal preference of using a parent/child theme setup. Throughout this project I did my best not to tell the developers how to build the website, rather I shared only what we needed the website to do. It wasn’t always easy for me to bite my tongue, especially on this point, but I trust their team to make good decisions for us.
Numerous plugins are used on the new website. Here are some of the key plugins we’re using.
- Yoast SEO Premium — I’ve actually never used the premium version of Yoast SEO before, but with all the URL redirects we will need it only made sense to upgrade to this version.
- Meta Box — When I build websites and need to add meta boxes and custom fields to the post editor I code them by hand. It’s a bit of a pain; Masterworks thinks so too. So instead they make use of this Meta Box plugin. It’s a simple drag-and-drop solution for meta boxes and custom fields, something the site makes extensive use of.
- PublishPress — I’m acting as the managing editor for the blog. In that capacity I’ll be overseeing a lot of authors, some in the communications department and others who serve as field staff around the country. I need a solid editorial workflow solution to manage it all, and PublishPress is one of the best such tools out there.
- Gravity Forms — All the contact forms on the website make use of Gravity Forms, which for my money is the very best form creator for WordPress. I use it on nearly every website I build.
- WP Store Locator — The Navigators serve in a lot of locations. That data is all stored in our HR system, but we needed a way to present that information visually on the website once it was imported. We’re using a plugin ostensibly designed for showing franchise locations to achieve that end.
- WP 101 — Since not all of my contributing authors have used WordPress before, and because I didn’t want for our team to have to answer lots of basic WordPress questions from these authors, I added this plugin to help guide these new users.
Always a Work in Progress
On the previous version of our website it was very difficult to add new features when we needed them. That’s not the case now. When we see a need for something new we’ll be in a position to add it much more easily. In fact, I already have a desire to add a timeline showing the history of The Navigators (something like what we built here on Jim Downing’s website).
I hope you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes of our new website. If you have questions or thoughts to share leave me a comment below.