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Seniors Ignite: Creating an Online Education Site

My latest project, Seniors Ignite took me a little of the beaten path from one of my typical custom WordPress sites. There are so many different things you can do with WordPress, and this project let me try new some new things.

The site has been a work in progress over the past few a months and I’m really happy with the final results for both site visitors and from a site management perspective.

Seniors Ignite is a online education site for photographers who specialize in high school senior photography. There are multiple photographers that contribute articles, tutorials, images and videos to the site.

Nick Sharples wire-framed the initial site design and layout and I developed the site from that. Nick, Jen Basford and I planned the content, the user experience and the key features that we wanted on the site. Of all the things that went into making the site, the content is by far is the biggest and most time consuming part.

Seniors Ignite needed a site that:

  • Showcased a group of very talented photographers and their work
  • Displays Images and Video
  • A store for downloadable products and workshops
  • Was easy to manage, track contributors, marketing and sales
  • Most importantly – be visitor friendly and easy to navigate
  • Accommodate multiple contributing photographers and authors
  • Integrate with an upcoming Spring Event in San Diego
  • Most importantly – be visitor friendly and easy to navigate

The site was built using WordPress, the Woo Framework and the Woo Commerce plugin so most of the functionality was there. Like any WordPress site, it still needed a few tweaks and customizations.

On the home page, there is a slider, with the latest featured photographer and products. Right below that are the latest videos from the Seniors Ignite YouTube and Vimeo pages. On the right side of the page there is an email signup form at the top and bottom of the page, along with social links and the latest blog articles and tutorials. A camera grip pattern was used for the background

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When developing the site, I wanted to make that the site was not dependent solely on me to update. It had to be easy for others to use as well, so it needed to have features on the administrative side that made that possible.

Custom Post Types
The site uses a number of Custom Post Types for organizing and adding specific content to the site. Custom post types are setup for a specific type of content or data. Rather than using a regular WordPress blog post, Custom Post Types are set up to add and display specific types of content.

With Seniors Ignite there are a number of custom post types that we made use of.

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First was a custom post type for videos. This post type makes adding videos easy, and videos can easily be displayed in multiple places on the site. Videos, both free and paid are a big part of the content created for the site, so this was important.

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The Gallery Custom Post Type was set up to showcase the work of all of the photographers who contribute to Seniors Ignite, and also to showcase images created at the photography event.

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The Slider Post types are for featured slides on the home, like mentioned above.

The Members Custom Post Type is used to add photographer and studio profiles with more information and links to their work. There is a page with listings for all profiles.

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There is also an Event Post Type, for event listings and registration.

Shopping Cart
For managing the products, the follow up, customers and their accounts is something Woo Commerce does very well. We added a number of extensions and functionality for sales, marketing and delivery. All invoices and follow through are customized to match Seniors Ignite branding.

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For Visitors
The shopping experience is very easy for visitors. The store catalog features all downloadable products and workshops. We wanted to make that as easy as possible for customers, and to provide immediate access to purchases. Customers receive an email with a download link, and can also access any of their past purchases from their account. The system is completely automated. Below is the account page:

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The Checkout Page

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Social Media Features
Integrating with the event and Seniors Ignite Social Media was another feature that was important. In addition to social links, we are able to bring in Instagram feeds from all of the photographers, and the Social Comments curates all mentions of blog posts in one place. There is also an Instagram feature where visitors and people attending the event can easily follow all Seniors Ignite Photographers, just by scanning a QR code with an iPhone.

Responsive design. No matter what type of browser you are in, the site displays beautifully. The videos, the images and even the shopping cart, all carry over nicely to mobile devices.

Web Hosting
Switching the site hosting to ZippyKid made a tremendous difference in terms of site speed and user experience. This is a very media heavy site with lots of videos and images, and having a site that would be able to deliver a fast and seamless experience for visitors was very important.


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