Web development and site migration (Wix to WordPress)

Carleton-India Accelerate

The Accelerate program by Carleton University is a non-profit helping international female entrepreneurs excel in their business endeavours. My project with them is to help grow the program’s community and migrate their website onto WordPress.

Context and overview

This was a development project, and the objective was two-fold. The first phase of the CIAP web project was to migrate CICE’s program website from a bloated and slow moving Wix platform, and onto WordPress. All design elements and functional pieces were to be present in the new platform.

The objective for the second phase is to create a community forum for the program’s delegates.

  • Forum activity – This new community forum will be a hub for members of the CIAP community to post topics and reply to each other, and to follow each other’s activities within the forum.
  • Downloadable resources – It will house exclusive business resources for members only to download and use.
  • Matchmaker – Members can submit their business profile to CIAP through the Matchmaker form, which will send them a copy of their application as well as to CICE. These applications will be forwarded to prospective investors who may be interested in funding the members’ business endeavours.

CICE’s marketing department was facing technological challenges with Wix. The rest of Carleton University’s technology was used to working in WordPress. Having an ongoing blog proved to be difficult on Wix with an unfamiliar UI to use every day. The platform was laggy and formatting on the website is frustrating for publishers. CICE also had goals to align more closely with Carleton’s platforms and the program itself needed a platform that could scale with their growing services.

In the second phase, the new community platform is going to be created to provide a medium for which CIAP members can network and communicate with one another. The community members are delegates (participants) of the CICE program. The forum itself will serve as a communication and networking tool for new business owners. It will also aim to help new businesses get started with funding and organizing their business endeavours through the Resources section and Matchmaker program that CICE offers.

Onto better tools and a better future

The Carleton-India Centre for Excellence made a smart decision to move away from Wix and onto WordPress to house their growing platform of content. The community will run on WordPress without the same delays that come with loading an information-heavy Wix website.

Process and insight

Theming and plugin research

Because I have many years of experience in dabbling with WordPress as a hobby, theming to spec was straightforward.

After the theme was designed and implemented onto the new site, a little research needed to be done on matching up the right WordPress plugins with the functional features existing on the website.  Some included the following:

Page builder – Internal teams need to be able to create and modify existing/new pages as information changes over time. WordPress’s existing page builder is not far from a simple text editor (now with blocks via Gutenberg), which seldom matches what a published page ends up looking like . Something more visual was needed to fool-proof the platform and make sure the editor matched a lot better with the published view of a page.

[Screenshot of Beaver Builder]

Lightboxes – Pseudo pop-ups that serve as calls to action for the user to make a touch point with the business. These lightboxes need to be configured so they are not consistently popping up on all pages and not always right when the page loads, which can be irrelevant, untimely or disruptive to the user’s experience.

[Screenshot of lightbox in action]

Forms – These contact and application forms are the primary means of communication between the visitor and the business. For the first phase basic forms were sufficient where the administrator of the site can view submissions within the WordPress platform.

Video thumbnails – To provide more engaging content the user can play a video thumbnail right from a blog feed view.

Migration planning and execution

Once design and functionality were implemented fully, we planned a weekend migration from the existing website on Wix which was to happen via domain transfer onto AWS. We ran into minimal issues.

Debugging and wrap up

I ended up overseeing all of the technical work that needed to be done to get the site up and running 100%. Developer support was available to create the SSL certificate for the domain onto the new server, and that task was the main challenge before wrapping up.

Software research and implementation

It was difficult to make the decision on using bbPress and BuddyPress as my big tools to get the job done. A lot of documentation I read online about both of them seemed outdated. But they’ve been in the playing field for so long, and it’s still being updated today. The client didn’t have the budget to go with enterprise forum software, so this was the way to go.

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