Hop Studios has relaunched a significant site redesign for the Foursquare Church, a large, evangelical Christian organization based in Los Angeles. We’re pleased as punch with the new site, and so are they.
The new Foursquare.org (don’t get it confused with that .com site) simplifies the structure of the old site, cutting down on the multiple sub-domains, grouping content logically, and giving everything a bright, clean and approachable look.
It’s definitely not just cosmetic changes, though. We’ve added a host of new features:
- There’s a district locator that lets people put in their zip code and find out what district they’re in—this is most useful for getting relevant regional news and for church officers, volunteers and employees who want quick access to information about their district
- The church search is buffed up and easier to use, with a proximity search, integration with Google Maps, and the ability to search by type of church organization, like camps, schools and institutes.
- All the articles and resources on the site can now be commented on by site visitors
- Direct integration with Foursquare’s Vimeo video channel for display of video podcasts
- Tags and categories and resources browseable by author and artist and… well, there’s no shortage of ways to get to exactly the content you want…
- Some nice flourishes, like auto-resizing shadow-boxed images that you can click on to view at full size; and really SEO_friendly URLs compared to the last site
Attention geeks: The whole site is done in the new ExpressionEngine 2.1! And, though this will clearly not endure as a record, I believe it’s the most highly-trafficked (and perhaps the largest in terms of content) EE 2.1 site built so far. One of the most interesting challenges on this site was making do with a subset of add-ons that have been converted for EE 2, and then trouble shooting those for bugs common to newly released software. Here are the add-ons we used:
Allow EE Code 1.4,
Hop Inject 2.0.0,
Magpie RSS Parser 1.3.5,
MX Calculator 1.0.2,
NSM Transplant 1.0.0,
XML Encode 1.3 (by Rick Ellis!),
MD Color Picker 1.0.2,
NSM Better Meta 1.0.3,
NSM Add-on Updater (1.0.1),
NSM Better Meta.
Developing with EE 2 was an adventure. Almost every single one of these add-ons had multiple updates during the project, and most (including my own!) had bugs that we needed to work around in order to launch. Several add-ons had bugs that we simply couldn’t resolve, so we ended up not using Color Picker 0.9, Logiq Pagination or, sadly, Taggable—Jamie Rumbelow’s tagging module, which had a great interface and some fresh new ideas, but ultimately wasn’t robust enough to solve our client’s needs.
The ExpressionEngine software itself needed to be updated twice during the project because the number of fixes and improvements in each build was truly astounding, but the current version is definitely production-ready, and we’re looking forward to doing more projects with it.