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WebMotif Clients: The CoffeeGeek Project

The Project

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The Client

Industry: News, Media
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

The Challenge

The CoffeeGeek site represented one of the most unique challenges we've had as a company. The website's vision was to be three-fold: a dynamically updating community-oriented website; a site that allowed authors from around the world to contribute content and product reviews without any help from the site owners; and the site needed a self-managed advertising system that was flexible and powerful, with full ecommerce options built in.

The Solution

We mapped out the structure and intent of the CoffeeGeek website. We identified five main areas of importance:

  • the website would have a news and opinion focus, which would be updated by a variety of authors around the world.
  • the website would have a database of over 1,000 consumer-submitted product reviews that would be migrated from an older website.
  • the site would feature a wide variety of community features including feedback options, commentary on articles and other submitted content, and a complete forums system
  • a site-wide advertising system with complete tracking and reporting options needed to be built.
  • usability for the entire site was a high priority.

Additionally, we needed to design a website that could pull all these elements together into an easy-to-use, professional site that could handle a wide variety of users and expectations. We projected that within six months, the website might have to deal with 60,000 monthly visitors or more. This was a a major factor in our design path.

WebMotif put our WIPS content management system to the task, and we ended up rewriting the software to handle the needs of the CoffeeGeek website. New WIPS components designed from scratch included the advertisement display module, the forums module, and the comments and feedback modules.

Our design followed the principal of the three click rule: no matter where you were on the website, any other page on the website should be accessible within 3 clicks. The only exception to this rule was the forums section, which would contain many threads and sub threads.

We also focused on usability by putting the search options, log in, and user profile sections front and center on every page on the website.

We stuck to most conventions, including a clickable logo on the top of the page that would bring you back to the home page, the use of "breadcrumbs" to chart your depth into the site's multiple levels, and an easily accessible main menu on every page.

For the advertising system, we came up with a time-saving system that made most of the website's income generation self-supporting and managed. We devised a "partners" special log in that allowed our advertisers to place their own ads on the website, chart the ads' success rates, and easily pay for and renew the advertisements.

The community features include a completely customized forums section that features a lot of specialized features to give site visitors a more personal experience, including a wide array of personalized settings they could change, options for how you want to maneover through the forums, and much more.

Site traffic problems were overcome by intelligent use of caching and timed updates on the server. Without this kind of optimization, the site would become unusable if more than ten or twenty people were visiting at one time.

The website also got our multi-tiered authoring and control system, with author, editor, administrator, and owner levels set up. Authors could easily add new content to the site, edit their articles, and create new articles for future publication, all without any need for html knowledge. Those with higher level access could edit any content on the website, view statistics, or create entirely new sections to the website, again without any html experience required.

The Aftermath

The CoffeeGeek website has proved a major success. The design and usability of the site (along with the massive amount of content) have all contributed to it being the leading media source for coffee and espresso information, opinions, and reviews available today.

The foresight of WebMotif to design the underlayer of CoffeeGeek to handle large traffic has also paid off. The site's traffic exceeded our most optimistic predictions, reaching as much as 150,000 visitors and over 1.2 milliion page views in one month.

The automated, self-managed advertising system we built for the site has paid dividends as well, generating a healthy monthly income, all without any interaction between the site owners and the advertisers.

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