Before writing a single line of code, I conducted interviews with the entire Events team to learn more about their unique challenges, needs and capabilities. I learned about the different stages an event goes through in its lifecycle, from its announcement, to its roster of kick-ass speakers filling in, to the opening of registration, to the schedule getting finalized, to the unique functions the website should perform during the event, to post-event activities.
The UX Week and MX Conference websites were both built in WordPress, and given the Events team’s familiarity with this tool we decided we would continue using it going forward. I dug deeply into WordPress’ Multisite Network functionality, which allows us to segment each year in its own self-contained site, while only requiring one WordPress installation, one database, one login account.
By extensive use of MySQL dumps and regular expressions, I pried MX Conference 2010 off its existing WordPress installation and onto a fresh site under a Multisite Network. Working with Amber Reed, the talented visual designer who produced the complete aesthetic for MX 2011, I built a custom WordPress theme on the Thematic framework that would house the 2011 site.
Since all the 2010 content still existed at its new site, complete with .htaccess redirects, we were free to take some design liberties with the 2011 site that would have been impossible if it had needed to still function as an archive for previous years. After conducting some lightweight training to get the Events team oriented in their new home, we imported all the site content, finalized the design, and launched it.
Based on everything we learned in building and launching the new MX Conference website, we did it all again for UX Week. In this case the database translations and redirects were a bit more hairy, as UX Week was being hosted on a Crowdvine server, not on WordPress. I resurrected a WordPress theme for 2010, imported all the existing content (including videos) from Crowdvine, created a small splash page announcing 2011, repointed the DNS, and whammo. Not much had changed from the user’s perspective, but going forward the new Multisite Network would mean a world of difference for us!
As 2011 progressed and the program for UX Week became more fleshed out, the talented Jake Ingman worked to implement a truly beautiful design for the full UX Week 2011 website. Designed by Amber and developed by Jake, the site is the most beautiful that Adaptive Path has ever allowed itself, thanks in large part to our hard work crafting a more intelligent lifecycle for our events websites. In fact, we improved our end-of-life care to such a degree that these websites will continue to purr forever!