Class of 1969 case study
The Class of 1969, looking forward to its 40th Reunion in May 2009, decided that it needed many more capabilities than the existing HAA web site offered. We reviewed every other class web site to create a wish-list of features we admired, such as a photo album, blog, and map. A critical feature was the ability to send e-mail messages directly to classmates.
So we purchased a domain, HR69.org. Then we engaged a web designer, who recommended the Joomla content management system (which other classes have also used) because it is inexpensive and has a number of interesting additions that are also inexpensive. Many developers around the world are writing programs to enhance Joomla and they are making these programs available either free or at low cost. Best of all, Joomla seemed to offer all the features we wanted!
It was valuable to have a web specialist set up Joomla, because it requires some technical knowledge and the documentation is not comprehensive. Nonetheless, it is fairly easy to add and set up additional features as desired.
Our site is now live and has the following features: registration subject to approval by webmaster (provided by the Community Builder add-in to Joomla); ability to send mass e-mail to some or all registered users (CBMailing); ability for one registered classmate to send a "blind" e-mail message to another registered classmate; ability to put features behind log-in and thereby restrict access to classmates only; easy-to-use photo and video albums (Expose4); Google map of where classmates live (GMapsPro); and self-moderated discussion area for classmates to post news and announcements (Nice Talk). We also have pages with classmates' creative works such as paintings, photography, songs, and video (AllVideos Reloaded); listings of classmates' publications and web pages (Thumbshots); a calendar of upcoming Class events (EventList Calendar Module); as well as abundant information about past reunions, including full survey reports from the 35th and 40th reunions.
Before the reunion, the web site had links to the secure reunion registration page (behind post.harvard login) as well as to the on-line reunion survey.
We joined the Amazon Associates program, so the Class will earn a small referral fee for purchases made after clicking from our web site. The site has links to the Coop for class insignia merchandise and to a photographer for purchasing reunion photos.
It is easy for the webmaster to create new menu items, edit pages, or add new ones.
For more information, contact the Class of 1969 webmaster at webmaster@HR69.org.
In anticipation of our 45th Reunion in September 2014, we updated the Class website. We changed host company for better tech support and slightly lower fee, and created a new site based on a free Joomla template from SiteGround. We used the Joomla content management system again because the webmaster was familiar with it and Joomla provided all the features we desired.
Community Builder now has many improved features including better email, so additional add-ins were no longer necessary. We chose Kunena Forum instead of the (rarely used) blog we had before. Maps are provided by Geommunity, which is not free (only ~ $50 altogether with an add-in so the admin can batch-process) but works beautifully. The one problem was because the SiteGround template was not flexible about placement of a global map, so we found NoNumber Modules Anywhere (free!) that allows modules to be placed anywhere, even within an article.
One big improvement is that every feature has been added via template or plugin or module without further modifications to system files. This should make future updates very easy.