WTF is a Residential Microsite?
The 5NINES residential microsite is a key component of what we offer to our residential building customers. While many buildings offer amenity based internet service, 5NINES features a building specific website that allows tenants to sign-up, upgrade and cancel service easily. Property managers can keep track of tenant orders and usage, but can remain fairly hands-off. If issues or questions regarding service arise tenants should refer to the microsite instead of building management.
A Little History
The first version of the microsite was set up for Metro Place. It proved to work seamlessly so 5NINES wanted to use it for all residential buildings going forward. The design was redone and applied to a new site Kennedy Point, which was just a site where tenants had to show interest in 5NINES service first. As 5NINES started to sell more residential internet service the members would want to show customized versions to potential clients.
Little Mistakes, Big Nightmare
At first the sites were copied element by element. This was tedious and time consuming. Not to mention a number of details would get overlooked causing broken links and incorrect information. To minimize these issues a third party plugin was used to duplicate either the Metro Place site or Kennedy Point site depending on if the building needed a full store or a form to determine. Unfortunately the same problems still arose and more sites were being added. This would become a tangled nightmare.
The Sovereign Apartments was the next site that would need a full functioning store. 5NINES used sovereign.5nines.com as the working site to figure out how to streamline the microsite process. Problems were specifically identified and solutions researched. The goal was that once sovereign.5nines.com went live every microsite to follow would take minutes instead of hours.
Solution 1: Generic AF Template
Going forward ALL sites would be duplicated from one generic template, residentialtemplate.5nines.com. This template has no reference to any specific building. All customized content of any kind was stripped. Once a new microsite has been duplicated from this template it can then be customized. However, customization is meant to be minimal.
Solution 2: Go to the Source
If a content change needed to be made on one site…it would need to be made on all the sites. One small change could take a couple of hours depending on how many sites were live. Not to mention some sites were bound to get missed. Content needed to be housed in one place and displayed across the live sites.
The custom 5NINES plugin, Site Axiom in combination with a completely separate site, residentmaster.5nines.com does exactly that. The resident master site houses all of the shared content. The custom plugin grabs that content and displays it using shortcode.
Solution 3: It's All In the Details
The big issues were finally handled, but there were details that needed attention. Customizing the sites needed to be easier. When setting up a new microsite some information needed to be changed on different pages. To prevent similar mistakes as before code was added to automate those changes. For example, the sign-up fee for the plans can vary. This code gets the sign-up fee from where it is stored and then displays it through nested shortcode.
The residential microsites are a great service tool, but were going to be a huge PIA. We came up with an easier way to create and maintain each site.
Bottom line? A microsite now takes 15-30 minutes instead of 3-4 hours.