Oct 21st, 2010
Oradell Animal Hospital of Paramus, New Jersey is one of the largest and best animal and pet care centers in the world. But its website was old and the graphics designer who did their updates was closing her shop and leaving the country.
Their marketing director was looking for new ways to connect with their current clients and customer base but didn’t have to budget to do a full redesign of their web site. Recreating the current site’s structure and design in WordPress, adding social sharing and other functionality with plugins and widgets looked like the solution but there would be challenges in the project.
- There were over 300 html files on the existing site without much organization. A major overhaul of the web site had apparently been done 6 or 7 years ago but the earlier generation of files had not been deleted. Internal links and navigation menus were a mess.
- A two column front page that pulled post lists from different categories needed to be built and it had to be editable by the client. Templates for other special page types would need to be created.
- Oradell needed a way to manage their busy calendar of events which included everything from special lectures to pet bereavement group session at multiple locations.
- A large amount of content had been collected over the years that needed curating and conversion including profiles and pictures of 100 doctors and staff. I would need to duplicate their doctor-popup windows.
Lisa Davis, Oradell’s director of marketing and I worked our way through the content sorting the pages into a navigable hierarchy. We played with the front page’s features and layout over the course of the project until it finally looked and felt right. I built a special template for the Services & Staff pages that included a dynamically generated menu of all of the hospital’s departments. Each department’s page is a child page of the Services & Staff page.
I installed the WordPress events manager. This is a powerful piece of programming. It’s highly configurable and easy to use but, otoh, required a lot of configuration for Oradell’s requirements.
The most fun was writing shortcodes – one to show posts from a specific category in the content of a page and another to insert a doctor or staff profile in a post or page. The first shortcode:
[showposts category="featured" display="title"]
in the content of a page produces a listing of permalinked post titles in the “featured” category. The other choices for the display option are “excerpt” and “post”. These are used throughout the site.
The doctor shortcode was more complicated because doctor information needed to be displayed in different contexts with different requirements: in the body of a post, on the various departments pages and in the complete directory of personnel. For each doctor or staff member, the profile consisted of the person’s name, academic credentials, job title, image and bio. Since several of their doctors were interested in blogging, I decided to register all the doctors and staff as blog contributors and use the extra IM user fields to store the titles and credentials. For example, using this shortcode in a post:
[doctor name="John Dolittle" role="true" creds="true" hide="false"]
will cause Dr. Dolittle’s (not an real Oradell employee) complete profile to be inserted, including his credentials and job title following his name plus the bio with a left-aligned photograph. Setting the hide parameter to “true” will hide the bio and photo but with a jQuery toggle, Somewhat like this:
All in all, I liked working on the new Oradell website. It presented interesting challenges and the people I worked with were wonderful.