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Creating a Chamber of Commerce Website using Joomla

Mundaring Chamber of Commerce

Mundaring Chamber of Commerce

The latest website created by Webilicious ® is for the Mundaring Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber officially came into existence in August 2011, taking over from The Eastern Hills Business Association and aims to support and promote local businesses in the Mundaring Shire and surrounding area.

As usual, it was a case of finding out about best practice with this type of website and being inspired by existing Chamber websites.

The main challenge with this particular job was working out how to marry a subscription system and a business directory as there did not appear to be any "off-the-shelf" Joomla Chamber of Commerce or similar extension available.

The solution was to use Community Builder with CBSubs and ChronoForms. A new profile tab was created in Community Builder with custom fields created for member business details. Community Builder Field Management enables you to create text fields, drop down lists, drop down multiple select lists, text areas and even full text editor text areas. Members can update their own business directory listing by updating the relevant tab in their profile. The business directory consists of four ChronoForms with PHP code that queries and displays information from the Community Builder tables:

  1. Business Categories - displays an index of categories
  2. Business Listings - displays a list of businesses in a particular category
  3. Business Listing - displays a detailed listing of a particular business
  4. Business Search - search by business name

The PHP code includes a check of the CBSubs subscription status and also checks a "List in Business Directory" = Yes/No Community Builder field so that listings are only shown if members have an active subscription and if they enable the option in their profile.

Subscription Features

All the usual CBSubs subscription features are available. In this particular case, memberships are configured to match the financial year with the new "promotions" plug-in enabling pro-rata payments. GST is also enabled.

Business Directory Features

Members can enter all their relevant business details including the business name, category, address, logo, images, description, phone, mobile, email, website and also social networking links such as Facebook and Twitter etc. Only the fields that are completed are displayed in the business directory listings.

Members can choose multiple categories for their business.

If a subscription expires, the listing is automatically disabled in the directory until the member renews.

Other Features

Other features that make up the website include:

  • "Member Stories" blog featuring stories from Chamber members.
  • "Resources" implemented using the built-in Joomla weblinks feature.
  • Events with various categories implemented using JEvents including "Upcoming Events" module.
  • News with various categories implemented using the built-in Joomla category blog feature.
  • Contact form using ChronoForms.
  • Mailing list and newsletter features are implemented using AcyMailing including a customised template for the client.
  • Comments are enabled on some of the article categories using JComments.
  • Social networking "follow" and "share" features implemented using PGT SocialWeb and Social Media Icon Links.
  • Easy Folder Listing has been installed to make it easy for administrators to upload minutes in the Members Only section.
  • RokStories is used to rotate banner advertisements paid for by sponsors.

The excellent CBJuice was used to help import the existing member data.

Web Design

The "Momentum" template from RocketTheme has been installed and customised with an appropriate background image, transparent main and module areas. The logo is another excellent job from C6 Media Solutions.

Search Engine Optimisation

Basic on-site SEO has been implemented using sh404SEF.

ChronoForms has been configured so that the business directory listing for each business contains the business name in the url.

Feel the Quality

Checking the score in the Nibbler test tool reveals a score of 8.2 which is excellent considering that little to no social networking has yet been done.

Why Joomla

Joomla

Content Management Systems

"Why a CMS" is a better place to start than "Why Joomla".

Leading content management systems have several advantages over traditional website systems. For example:

  • WYSIWYG editing tools make it easy for non-technical users to maintain the content
  • many users can simultaneously administer the website
  • a web browser is all that is required to maintain the website
  • access control enables multiple roles such as editor, publisher and administrator
  • visual presentation is separated from the content through the use of templates which simplifies maintenance
  • features are easily added using plug-ins and modules
  • they are free and open source

These innovations make web development and maintenance more affordable and this is an important consideration for businesses.

Currently, the top 3 content management systems are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

Why Joomla

Search and you will find many articles on WordPress vs. Joomla vs. Drupal with some being more objective than others. It's a bit like the PC vs. Mac. vs. Linux debate where few reviewers are completely impartial and often tend to favour the system they are most familiar with. In fact, each system has it's own strengths and weaknesses and one will often be more suitable for a particular purpose.

A larger design firm with several staff may have experts in Joomla, Drupal, Wordpress and possibly other CMSs and can select the most suitable CMS for each job. To be a successful freelancer, the best approach for me is to be an expert in one CMS system rather than trying to keep up to date with three or more and being an expert in none.

Versatility

Joomla may not be the best CMS for a pure blog website (Wordpress is probably better) or have the best performance (Drupal is probably better), but there are nearly 10,000 extensions available to make Joomla a great platform for blogging, e-commerce, forums, galleries, social networking, directories, a combination of these, or anything else you can think of.

Rapid Development

A Drupal/Joomla/Wordpress showdown was conducted during the South by Southwest Interactive festival in 2009 where competing teams had up to 100 hours to construct a website to a specification. The Joomla team were able to achieve a better result in much less time than either of the other two teams:

  Drupal Joomla! WordPress
Total Hours 79.25 57.25 90.5
Hours spent on front end 21.75 15 36.5
HTML Validation No (8 errors) Yes No (8 errors)
CSS Validation No (7 errors) No (1 error) No (21 errors)
Page weight 180K 140K 154K
Lines of custom PHP/JS code 220 30 1,808

As you can see from the results, the Joomla website was completed fastest with the best code quality, the smallest page size and with the least lines of custom code by far.

Ultimately, the cost of ownership of a Joomla website is lower and you end up with a better quality website for the time and money spent.

Conclusion

I choose Joomla as it is the most versatile leading CMS and I can build good quality websites quicker, with more features and more affordably than with anything else. This ultimately benefits you, the consumer!

Update: Check out some Joomla statistics on the official Joomla YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qjnc0H8utks

References

http://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_management/all
http://www.cmswire.com/cms/web-cms/sxsw-web-content-management-system-showdown-update-2-004124.php
http://www.yardstickservices.com/blog/why-joomla-is-a-great-choice-for-small-business-websites

Creating a Book Promotion Website Using Joomla

Digger's Story

Digger's Story

The latest website created by Webilicious ® is to promote "Digger's Story", a book by David Barrett and Brian Robertson and published by Five Mile Press. The book is David's own true story of his experience as a young soldier and prisoner of war of the Japanese and his subsequent journey in seeking and gaining reparations for all Australian prisoners of war.

As with any type of website I haven't tackled before, I usually follow these or similar steps:

  • find out about best practice from experts in the particular field
  • find inspiring website examples of the same type
  • draw up a list of essential and desirable features
  • find suitable Joomla extensions to implement essential and desirable features
  • create the website and then evolve in consultation with the client

From research undertaken about book and author promotion websites, it appears a common complaint is a lack of contact details for the authors and/or the publisher. To address this, I have included contact details at the bottom of every page to ensure I don't make the same mistake.

From research and discussion with the client, it became clear that essential features would need to include some exclusive content to encourage visitors to subscribe to the mailing list, author biographies and photos, an events calendar, a press kit to make it easy for media folks to help with publicising the book, a way for visitors to interact, some inside information about the book, ordering information and social networking links.

Book Promotion Features

A summary of the features that were chosen to be implemented together with the corresponding solutions are as follows:

'3D' Book Cover Image:
Created '3D' book cover image using the free online tool at http://3d-pack.com
 
Author Biographies:
Joomla Article
 
Author Photos:
 
Book Signing Events:
JEvents "Events" page with "Latest Events" module in sidebar
 
Contact Information:
Author and Publisher contact details are included at the bottom of every page
 
Countdown to the Launch Date:
Sourcerer and custom code
 
Exclusive Content/Subscription:
ChronoForms Subscription Form for PDF Book Excerpt with subscriber details collected in AcyMailing Mailing List
 
Feedback:
JComments are enabled on the home page to enable feedback from visitors. Feedback is moderated so that commends are reviewed before being published.
 
Inside information about the book:
Video interviews created by the authors are displayed using a customised version of RokTabs that displays the videos in articles using the AllVideos plugin
 
Ordering Information:
Joomla article
 
Press Kit:
A "Press Kit" Joomla article is included with numerous downloads such as a book synopsis, book covers, author photos, press releases etc to make it easy for media folks to help publicise the book
 
 
Social networking:
"Share" buttons implemented with PGT SocialWeb are included on every page. "Follow" buttons for the Author's Twitter and YouTube channels implemented with Social Media Icon Links and are included on every page.
 
Twitter Feed:
 

Web Design

The "Momentum" template from RocketTheme has been installed and customised with an appropriate background image, transparent main and module areas.

Search Engine Optimisation

Basic on-site SEO has been implemented using sh404SEF and an off-site SEO campaign is planned to drive traffic to the website. This will include some or all of the following:

  • posting on forums
  • promoting via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc
  • blogging
  • seeking book reviews and publishing these on the website
  • press releases
  • niche marketing such as an advertisement in veterans affairs newsletters / magazines or similar etc
  • promotional speaking and book signings

Useful Book Promotion Websites

http://wordpreneur.com/12-great-author-websites-for-book-promotion-ideas
http://www.writers-free-reference.com/promotion.htm
http://www.ehow.com/how_4785122_write-short-author-bio.html
http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/18-top-websites-to-promote-your-book-for-free

AcyMailing Migration from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 2.5

AcyMailing Logo

This is the fourth article in a series of Joomla component migration instructions. Published so far are:

AcyMailing Migration

Before starting the migration:

  • upgrade the source website to the latest available version of the component
  • backup the source and target websites

Migrate core functions with JUpgrade or SP Upgrade or similar so that user ids are preserved.

Copy the media/com_acymailing folder from your J1.5 website to your J1.6 website.

Export the Joomla 1.5 AcyMailing tables using phpMyAdmin with the "Quick" and "SQL" options (Note: you can multiple select tables and export them as one file).

If necessary, amend table prefixes by searching and replacing all of the old prefixes e.g. jos_ to j25_ inside the file(s).

Import the Joomla 1.5 Acymailing databases into Joomla 2.5.

Install the latest version of AcyMailing on the Joomla 2.5 website.

If required, update image locations in templates from images/stories to /images

You may also need to update the "View Online" links in your templates.

Reference:http://www.acyba.com/en/forum/5-how-to/15106-migrating-to-joomla-v16.html