For nearly a decade, the Greater Good Science Center and its magazine have been at the cutting edge of the science of compassion, happiness, and altruism—the science of a meaningful life. But last year, the Greater Good decided that their website was not at the cutting edge—or even in the productive center. It was lagging, which was a double shame because it had both a heck of a lot of excellent content as well as a mission to share that information with a world wide audience.
The site’s editors has a clear vision of what they wanted in a new site, and reached out to us to make that vision real. Hop Studios came in and assessed what had grown organically (that means: not particularly efficiently or logically, and often with workarounds needed to deal with the entrenched publishing tools). We retooled everything (using ExpressionEngine, natch) and shaped it all into a flowing, organized, and well-designed site for the next who-knows-how-many years. (We keep on top of the latest design and technology trends, but try to avoid creating sites that will seem “so 2009” in two years. Let us now how we did, 24 months from now.)
As always, we faced a lot of challenges in a site of this size, but perhaps the biggest challenge was that we kept stopping to read all the great articles. Many revealed that the secret of a meaningful life was to simplify and focus on what was important: good advice in life, and good advice in a website overhaul. Some of the highlights of this new site include:
- The entire Greater Good archive—hundreds of articles that appeared in the print magazine—is available online, categorized and tagged, for the first time ever.
- Complete integration of original flat-file articles, PDFs, and two award-winning blogs with all their comments, simplifying the editorial process and making it easy to jump from one story to related blog posts, videos, events and more
- An extensive new video section cross-referenced by speaker and series, with multiple podcasts to launch soon as well
- Complete forum customization
- Paid subscriber and free member registration co-existing, with a member import process, so that subscribers to the previously paid magazine get access to custom member-only information and downloads
- Complete preservation and forwarding of the previous site URLs. Don’t you hate it when old links turn up dead? We do, too, so we made sure it wouldn’t happen.
- Integration with Disqus, Sharethis, Google Analytics, Constant Contact, 3rd party ad services, Twitter… you name it, we integrated it.
I’m particularly proud of the article handling; it’s the first EE site we’ve built that lets editors embed an arbitrary number of pull-quotes or automatically resized photos into an article body without knowing any HTML or using the dreaded “File Upload” link in EE 1.6.8. The site has quite a few jQuery and CSS flourishes that add ease of use but work without it, too. This site was so reliant on third-party add-ons, we have to give a special thank-you to DC Template Manager, Freeform, LinkLocker, Low NoSpam, Playa, FF Matrix, Tag, Tracker, User, Image Sizer, Fasta, Gypsy, LG Add Sitename, nGen File Field, Simple Math, Hop Inject and Edit This (that’s us ), Nice Date, Splitter, Ajax Detect, Video Player, Reeposition, TruncHTML and of course Fieldframe.
We look forward to building our next site this size in EE 2.0!