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Case Study: JemCon.org
In its infancy as an annual convention organiser in the US, JemCon was looking to develop a website that would attract more visitors (both from within the US and on a more global scale) and provide a platform to encourage growth and comradery in their doll collectors' community.
The convention provides a fun-filled weekend for all ages, in a warm and friendly environment. Many events and activities take place, including special guest panels and performances, fan discussion panels and tutorial workshops. They also provide dealer stalls and displays, along with games and quizzes, fancy dress ball, buffet and disco.
Key Features and Requirements
- An event registration system offering multiple package deals to the annual convention
- A community messageboard for members to gather and discuss topics of interest
- A fun and appealing website design in keeping with their existing branding
- A publicity channel to filter the latest news and updates via online mediums
- An historical archive for past convention resources and information including;
- Video vault, containing public and member-only videos
- Image galleries
- Web content editing and backup facilities to enable in-house administration
Event Registration System
JemCon event registration is open for the majority of the year and offers a tiered pricing system based on the number of days visiting and how early in the year the package is purchased.
Early-bird incentives are offered that include discounts and a variety of free gifts, so the registration and payment system has been programmed using PHP and MySQL databases to automatically increase pricing, and reduce incentives, over the course of the year. Payments are made via PayPal.
The messageboard at JemCon is powered by open source forum software phpBB3.
The forum software has been fully integrated with the website, adopting the header and footer design templates, and boasting a full custom design icon set, and several PHP coding modifications, to enhance the user experience.
Additionally, the messageboard login system had been rolled out across the entire website, allowing user-specific and 'special' content to be delivered to members.
JemCon had already established a pink and yellow branding theme on an earlier incarnation of their website, on their logo and on merchandise, so the 2008 redevelopment project called for a similar colour palette to aviod causing confusion with existing members.
The banner design, when not logged-in, displays character silhouettes and a login box, but the design drastically changes once a member has made their presence know. Full custom character artwork replaces the silhouettes and the number of characters on display changes according to how wide the browser viewport is - the wider the screen, the more character visuals on show!
News and Updates
To help filter information outwards to their targetted audience, JemCon news and updates are posted to the home page news scroller via an XML RSS feed, and they then filter automatically to Facebook and then to Twitter. The platform that powers this is my own Fast Feed software.
This automatic trickle of news is a convenient way to reach the increasing crowd of JemCon followers, via various online mediums, while preserving consistency and accuracy of information.
As an annual event, JemCon wanted to log their activities to attract more visitors in coming years.
Resources grow each year and to encourage a 2-way information exchange, a "Live Uploads" area allows for members and staff to upload photos and videos from the convention, which can later be moved to a dedicated video vault and image gallery for each convention year.
Tied to the site-wide login system, the website instantly recognised logged-in members and grants suitable permissions to allow them to upload images and video. The gallery and video playlist are both automatically generated and update immediately to show any new resources.
A similar member recognition system is used on the archive video vaults, serving members with richer playlists (containing special guest footage) than casual browsers who can only watch more generic video footage of the convention weekend.
With many monthly updates and an ever-growing flow of new member contributions, convention developments and event news, JemCon have been provided with a comprehensive back-end administration system to allow convenient and regular internal administration.
As well as being able to moderate the messageboard, main administrators have back-end access to the website via a web-based FTP client, and less-technical content editors are also able to post news articles and make simple web page updates via a WYSIWYG web page editor.
Databases and web pages can be backed-up and restored when necesessary.
Additionally, JemCon administrators are also able to manage registration data and other online form submissions via Form Tools, an open source PHP/MySQL form manager.
Read the case studies
For a more in-depth look as some of the website projects I've worked on, please take a look at these case studies;
- DHFS (Digital Signage) case study
- DHFS (Mobile News Portal) case study
- HMS Garden Design case study
- JemCon.org case study
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