SSAI website update

Website in question: ssai.info

This is a site for the society for Scandinavian doctors in anaesthesia and intensive care, about 4000 doctors total. It oversees our international relations, it develops practice guidelines, it governs subspecialty fellowship training programmes, it runs a journal, it does a biennial scientific congress etc.

Currently

  • overall a top-down static content information site
  • hard coded theme, doesn’t play with Gutenberg
  • advanced custom fields
  • visual identity established and happy to keep this overall
  • about 70 pages, 70 posts
  • all content is maintained by the webmaster with some future help by a non-tech savvy secretary (used to wordpresss)
  • a couple of forms, a newsletter, an event calendar, all defunct
  • messy front page with the intention of a blocky responsive layout, but hard to navigate and doesn’t at all have a helpful UI / UX

Wishlist, two fold

1. Visual overhaul

  • not a de novo design language, but main page needs a lot of love
  • we have 4 main domains of activity (see top menu items: congress, journal, education, guidelines), our main DNA which we need to sell visually
  • check dropbox link at bottom of post for current theme, design presentation and design elements from the web agency who developed it
  • main page needs break up into different flow. I think we need to leave behind the blocky design and have a vertical flow of sections instead
  • calendar needs to work and be styled
  • news feed needs a more appropriate section where time line is easier to appreciate
  • we need featured images to work on different view ports and have “safe limit” photoshop dimensions (ie a template to go by so important text stays viewable no matter viewport). 16:9 might be preferable as easier if embedding video thumbnails, but happy to take advice
  • the contact form needs to be behind a FAQ, as we have way to many silly questions
  • the main page recode (and overall domain) should be rather easy to update down the line, so good practice code with good documentation will be appreciated. A front page design in elementor or similar might be worthwhile. While my css skills are OKish, my php skills aren’t yet much to brag about
  • we need to make pages/posts work with the Gutenberg editor to make it easy for the secretary to update stuff. It needs to comply with color scheme which is not handled elegantly currently. For instance, tables and buttons don’t work on conversion to Gutenberg blocks, and the manual transition is too time consuming for me. When we do new posts there’s too much work getting blocks to comply with design

2. New functionality

We wish to have member rights set up, so predefined user groups can log in and access relevant forums. This is currently primarily intended for the 6-7 groups running educational programmes, with about 30 persons in each. They renew every 2 years, so would need to be able to make new groups as needed. We would have course directors be moderators. We need for them to be able to

  • have discussion boards and forums
  • share calendar items to a shared calendar and plan meetings
  • share files in a folder like structure
  • put up timelines / calendar stuff
  • make posts with content including pictures / videos
  • teachers need to make quizzes, in particular MCQs to test attendees of meetings for retention
  • integration with zoom might be helpful

This same group functionality might also be useful for the board of SSAI which currently uses basecamp to do this.

Also, of less importance, we currently spend money on conference agencies to setup online presence (currently https://ssai2022.com) of our biennial conferences which are quite simple and would do well to be under the main domain, both to save costs but also just because it would drive traffic through the main site and from a UX perspective makes more sense to not have multiple domains.

We may want to develop e-learning modules down the line, but that is not an immediate focus and we do not currently need to set up proper e-learning courses nor any woocommerce or pay solution.

The member functionality part is no doubt the bigger backend challenge. I have tested the waters on a test copy of our site with the buddyboss platform plugin (for forums and social messaging), coupled with a user access plugin like memberpress. I have been leaning toward learndash for its easy integration with those for MCQs and potential elearning. Those are my thoughts so far.

I have consulted various Danish web developers who have very differing opinions, some suggesting a totally de novo custom site at a very significant cost.

I would hope someone has specific experience both frontend and backend with something along the lines of those plugins to help develop the functionality at less than custom site costs. This would also be preferable in as much as we can extend functionality better ourselves down the line.

However, I am not a skilled developer so I am acutely aware we need input on fundamental choices.

Stability and security is important, so might need help on those fronts too. We need GDPR compliance. Trainees also may post patient cases that cannot spill into the public eye.

Speed might be an issue for us too. We are currently on wordpress optimised shared hosting at inmotionhosting.com, but I suppose we may need more umph for a user site, even if number of logged in active users will probably be quite small at any given time.

To check visual identity and presentation thereof (we would mostly want to stick with color scheme and graphic design elements), see the dropbox folder. The key brief is a consistent minimalist Scandinavian design. I think it currently works well except for the main page.

We would hope to find someone with a track record and also looking at the long game for ongoing support down the line as needed, so preferably not a one man gig and crucially we need good practice code for later updates. It will be necessary to share the inner workings with the webmaster to make sure he can take over.

About the author(s)

Scandinavian anaesthetist. PHARM, ED, OR, ICU. Special interest in wee patients.

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