Auditel (UK) Limited are the leading cost management consultants operating in the UK. The business consists of a network of over 100 consultants who offer cost and purchase management consulting to the business community in their area of the UK. Each consultant in the network is actively promoting the Auditel service and the company’s head office in Winchester supports these efforts with marketing collateral and other promotional material.
Up to now, the Auditel consultants have used the Web sparingly. The Head office supplied a single page of information that could be accessed via a suitable sub-domain URL (e.g. www.auditel.co.uk/davidbell). This was never intended to be the last word on the subject and this year saw the development of a brand new publishing platform for the network to use.
Our recommendation at SUGAR was to base these “mini-sites” on a blogging model, since these platforms offer a ready-made publishing environment which include many of the features any website owner would want. At this point we carried out extensive research on which platform would be the best for the project. The decision came down to the two obvious choices, Movable Type and WordPress MU. After evaluating both platforms the choice was made based on the experience we’d already gained building WordPress templates for existing sites.
Once the platform choice had been made we started work on what structure the sites would have. This was a process of consultation with the Auditel Support Team and representatives from the Consultant’s Network. Once the site structure was agreed we designed a corresponding set of visuals that provided a suitable “look and feel” for the sites. It was important to the business that the sites retain the company branding and portray the professional nature of the organisation. Using the built-in template system in WordPress makes the process of establishing a common design very simple.
A fresh install of WPMU (WordPress MU) was installed on one of our existing servers. Getting a WPMU site installed is not as simple as the single version, it does require a great deal of patience and careful planning. If an option is chosen incorrectly or something strange happens during the installation, it usually requires that the install be started again. Suffice to say that the WPMU forums have saved us on a number of occasions!
We converted the agreed design into a WordPress template on the development server. The templates make extensive use of custom fields for capturing consultant contact details. We used a number of plug-ins to add functionality including:
- Exclude Pages
(Author: Simon Wheatley)
- Get Custom Field Values
(Author: Scott Reilly)
- Unfiltered MU
(Author: Michael Adams)
- Role Manager
The template system makes it a simple matter to add additional features or functionality. Since the launch of the system there have been a number of changes and modifications. Most of these have been extremely easy to carry out and allowed us to respond quickly to the needs of the business.
Since building this site we would have no hestitation in recommending WordPress MU to any business looking for a state-of-the-art publishing platform for their business. The response we’ve had so far from the Auditel Support Team and the consultants using the system has been overwhelmingly positive. Our biggest challenge for the future is actually nothing to do with the technical side of the system. We need to provide training and support for the users so that they understand how to make best use of this fantastic platform!