Big Canoe is a large gated community nestled up in the hills of North Georgia. Internally we refer to them as Big Canoe, however they are actually 2 separate website entities. One entity is the Big Canoe HOA which works with the community organizations to plan events and other activities within the Big Canoe area. The other entity is the Smoke Signals Newspaper, an online resource for news in and around Big Canoe. The newspaper is also published and distributed to the homes within the Big Canoe community. Both entities work heavily to keep the people of the community informed about upcoming events, news, and happenings within and around Big Canoe.
The original build of their Joomla websites treated the two separate entities as one including one single database even though they had two separate domains that served two different websites. For security reasons, this is not considered safe practice in our industry. The HOA site housed their membership data with over 3,000 users. At the time, the Smoke Signals site housed over 4,000 articles.
The goal of this project was to redesign both sites using the same design and to separate the content of the sites into their own individual databases. The old site was a template design that had been hacked to the point of no return, so we needed to start fresh with a custom website design. In addition they wanted to implement a private social network using the same design for all of their residents. Another big challenge was that the site needed to be upgraded from Joomla 1.5 running in legacy mode to Joomla 2.5.x which was the current version of Joomla at that time.
To add to all of this, each organization had a board of directors that we worked with to make sure all of their concerns and needs were met. This proved to be a big hurdle due to the board having differing opinions and requests. Our mediating skills came into play as we worked with the teams to agree on the changes and updates that would be made to each site.
We started this project as we do most others, by sketching out our ideas for the design. We shared our ideas and illustrations with the board of directors for each organization. Upon approval we moved on to the Photoshop phase to create the custom design from scratch. After another round of approvals, we continued the project by rendering the design into HTML, CSS and PHP. Once this process of the design was completed we converted it into a custom Joomla template. Next we took on the task of separating the content into their own Joomla installations. We exported each sites content into CSV and manually imported it into the new Joomla installations including the 4,000 articles and 3,000 users. Our final task was the installation of the component modules and plugins. The configurations of these installations were made to match the old configuration with additional modifications to make future content additions easy for the Big Canoe editors. Once we completed the testing of the new systems and database entries to make sure there were no errors, a launch date was set.
We provided Big Canoe with three separate custom websites, all using the same basic design. The content for the Smoke Signals website and the HOA website were now on separate Joomla installations which added additional security to each site. This solution gave them the ability to moderate all of the users and content on each site separately. The advertising space on the Smoke Signals site was vastly improved in order to create a larger stream of revenue. A support ticket system was created through a resident portal to provide residents with the ability to complete a request. The ticket is either routed to a member of the Ringer staff or to a member of Big Canoe staff depending on the ticket type. In addition to the resident portal, we created an instructional video for the residents on how to update their profile information for the HOA site.
After the site launched, Big Canoe received many great compliments from their residents and the local community. The support ticketing system also received great compliments due to the easy to use navigation that provided easy access to the board and Ringer. Smoke Signals has increased their stored articles to over 6,000 and continues to see an increase in advertisers. The content editors have also expressed how much easier it is to add new content. Automatic renewal emails, directory update emails and advertiser emails have all been hassle free due to the systems that were put into place.
Technology; always moving forward!
With each of our designs we utilize a custom blend of libraries, components, modules, and plugins that help us deliver groundbreaking custom designs.
- Joomla 3
- Community Builder
- CB Subs
- Front Page Slide Show
- Akeeba Backup
- Admin Tools