I recently launched a membership website built on WordPress for my long-time client Warehouse Club Intelligence Center (WCIC).
I had designed and developed their original website in 2005. That was a membership website, too. The members’ individual and group requirements as well as page viewing and download privileges were managed via custom PHP programs with Ajax support. The custom-written searches drew from the data that was stored in a MySQL database. Each month, the client would upload additional data to the WCIC library (database) using the custom-developed PHP programs I had written for executing mass data uploads. He also had a custom-developed Administration screen to manage the data and members after mass upload.
New membership website’s business requirements
With a new set of business requirements, the WCIC owner contacted me about a new website. He had been using the custom programs for over 15 years. During that time, his business had evolved, his focus had shifted, and he no longer needed some of the functionality that he had had built into the original website.
The good news is that the PHP and Ajax programs written in 2005, continued working perfectly until replaced at the end of 2021. That meant that we were not rushed when planning and envisioning the new website.
The new business requirements were similar but different. He wanted to:
- use the new technology,
- eliminate some data,
- eliminate reporting on some statistics,
- change the viewing media of some data,
- maintain the integrity of the data existing in the current WCIC library,
- add more download capability for PDFs and zips,
- add more public pages,
- increase the user-friendliness of requesting a trial membership, and,
- continue to be able to update all the content on his own.
YES! WordPress and the plugins are perfect for this! Much less custom programming would be required.
Developing the WordPress membership website
The new website project was kind of a conversion, moving from implementing old-technology ways of doing things to the new ways. I spent quite a bit of time mapping;
THIS is a current data point -to- THIS is what the data point will look and act like in the new website.
It took several months to scope out all the mapping, find the “right” plugins, diagram the WordPress-to-plugin interfaces, write some custom PHP programs, import and re-import existing data, test and re-test, and, finally, develop the new website.
AND, there was a delay due to a re-start with the membership management plugin. I had purchased and installed our first choice for membership management. That software would not validate the license, and, instead displayed an error.
“Purchase-then-validate-license” is standard operating procedure in my website development world.
My confidence was shaken. I took the error generated upon validation attempt as a sign of the quality of the programming code that ran the plugin.
Instead of jeopardizing my client’s future with faulty software, I reviewed my prior research and chose another membership plugin. I purchased and installed that, and the license validated automatically and as expected, and, I carried on.
Once the website was fully functional in the new technology, I migrated it from the development area to a brand new hosting environment.
The new WordPress-based membership website
The primary focus of the new website is to provide data to the WCIC subscribers. The subscribers are a very specific niche: those who sell or want to sell to “big-box” (warehouse) retailers.
That said, the new version of the WCIC website includes more information for the public. When developing the website, I had created a page template for the WCIC owner. He created most of the public pages himself, and uses these pages to attract his high-probability prospects.
The WCIC owner continues to maintain the entire website today, using a powerful combination of an upload plugin, a statistics reporting plugin, a few custom-written PHP programs, the membership management plugin, and, good ‘ol flat page maintenance using the WordPress block editor.
I invite you to take a spin and provide your feedback.
Who do you know that needs a membership website? Have them check out my website development options, then call me at 508-480-8833.