New Zealand Kindergartens

New Zealand Kindergartens

Website: nzkindergarten.org.nz

Size: 30 page WordPress website (originally over 200 pages with member and board sections)

My professional status: web consultant with The Hive Creative

Website client: New Zealand Kindergartens

Dates: June 2017 – March 2018

Categories: Front-end developer, Writing for the web, Content-loader, Responsive web design/dev, CSS-based layout, CSS3, HTML5, WordPress, Medium sites

Brief: New Zealand Kindergartens is a not-for-profit Incorporated Society and registered charity, governed by a board made up of elected and appointed members. NZK currently represents 14 local Kindergarten Associations, each of which is also a not-for-profit Incorporated Society and registered charity governed by a board made up of elected and appointed members. Collectively their members educate and care for more than 7,000 children who participate at 161 kindergartens and six centres, supported by 169 head teachers, 22 senior teachers, and more than 835 class teachers.

In 2017 Hive Creative (formerly Insight Consultants Ltd) designed a beautiful Annual Report for New Zealand Kindergartens. They decided it was time for a new website, and asked that it be designed along the same lines as the Annual Report. Hive asked me to join the project as their web consultant.

I was responsible for the selection and re-styling of the WordPress theme and associated plugins, CSS3, some PHP wrangling, building the site, site hosting management, browser and device testing, member and board member login system, content-loading, QA, proof-reading and client support, and CMS training. Initially the website was designed and built with a two-tiered member login system, allowing access to the members-only section for members, and also to the board members' section for board members.

Achievements:

  • Going far above and beyond in order to get the website working as well as it possibly could, and in order to give the client what they wanted
  • Putting together an interlinked series of plugins to create a two-tiered member login system - where members had access to their own section of the website, and board members also had access to a board members' section
  • Putting together a really complex set of additional WordPress plugins and extensions in order to really push the capabilities of the CMS and provide the client with everything they had asked for.

My responsibilities included:

  • Researching a range of potential WordPress themes to find ones that suited the functional requirements of the website, and selecting the best of these
  • Researching a range of WordPress plugins to find one that would enable us to create a two-tiered membership management and login system for the website (members-only and board members sections)
  • Installing and setting up the WordPress instance on my managed webhost account, and managing hosting from then on
  • Reskinning the look and feel of the website theme and updating the CSS to match the design provided by the Hive Creative designer
  • Tweaking various PHP files to extend plugin capabilities and get stuff displaying how I wanted it
  • Building the website using our reskinned WordPress theme, populating it with content provided by the client
  • Formatting some quite complex pages of content which included responsive tables, pullquotes, multi-column layouts and other highlighted blocks of special content - and creating new CSS styles to use with these as required
  • Working to get the membership registration and login system set up and sorted - using the NZK member list as our starting-point - running off a collection of interlocking membership and user plugins - and testing this system super-thoroughly before launch
  • Setting up a sophisticated document download system using the Download Monitor plugin - which enables the web editor to assign a range of user-based download permissions to individual documents on the website
  • Improving accessibility and WCAG 2.0 compliance of the original WordPress theme
  • Improving the responsive behaviour and functionality of the original WordPress theme
  • Providing a print stylesheet for the website
  • Carrying out very thorough cross-browser and mobile device testing (for screen and print) using a combination of real devices and BrowserStack virtual ones
  • Training Jo Newth at NZK how to use the WordPress CMS and then working with her to content-load the website
  • Proof-reading the website in its entirety before launch
  • Ongoing website support and updates as required.

NZ Kindergartens responsive screens in various devices

New Zealand Kindergartens got a great deal with this website. We went far beyond what we had originally pitched and quoted for, as the scope increased and it became clear how complex the membership login system was going to be.

I'm always somewhat surprised that WordPress still doesn't include member login as standard, and also always slightly surprised to be reminded how complex it can be to set up and get working properly. And the testing! Crikey! A serious amount of pre-launch testing to make sure every member could access the site first go on launch day, with no hiccups or surprises.

It was a real joy to work alongside Jo Newth, the NZK's office manager and knowledgeable in all things computer-related (she was a programmer in a past life). We got on like a house on fire, and together we made the NZK website just about as awesome as it could be, with a vast range of plugins under the hood to expand the functionality of the site.

A change in management after a couple of years led to the members-only and board members' sections of the site being taken off-line and mothballed - which is a shame, considering how much time and effort went into the member/board member login system. The site now consists of a public section only, rather than public, members-only and board members' sections, which is how it was originally designed and built.