I've recently developed a network of microsites that can be using by a large, global business development team in their meetings and conversations with potential partners.
With a remotely-located team, it can be difficult to ensure that messaging is consistent and that everybody is using the most up-to-date content in their presentations. The new microsite network is designed to tackle that problem, replacing traditional presentations with something that's more useful for the team and the partners they're meeting with.
As well as being used in the meetings themselves, the microsites become a resource for the partners where they can dive into further detail about certain aspects of the work or easily get in touch with their contacts in the business development team.
An initial prototype of the site proved really popular with the team, but it soon became clear that, with the volume of meetings taking place globally, a more flexible solution was required to enable quick creation of new sites and easy synchronisation of content across the network.
For the next iteration of the site, I completely rebuilt the architecture of the system in order to make it as quick and easy as possible to create and update sites.
The updated version uses WordPress multisite and is built around a main library site and a series of templates which can be used as the basis for each new microsite. The library contains all of the content which might feature in an individual site. From there, it is synchronised across any number of microsites with the fantastic Distributor plugin for WordPress.
Thanks to this approach, if a team member wants to update their profile picture or biography they only need to do it in one place and it'll instantly be updated across all of the sites that they feature on. When facts and figures are updated, they only need to be changed once and every site in the network will be updated.
Rapid site creation
The series of template microsites mean that it's really easy for team members to create a new site.
The template sites are pre-populated with relevant content for a particular audience - for instance there might be one for a particular country which includes profiles of all the team members in that country, or another about a particular part of our work.
A custom dashboard widget lets team members pick a template site, choose a name and URL and spin up a new site in seconds.
The permissions structure on the microsite network is designed to allow remote team members the flexibility to quickly create new sites, but ensure that the core site content remains consistent across the board.
A custom WordPress plugin manages permissions when a new site is created, automatically setting up new roles which give the site owner the ability to customise it for the specific partner that they're meeting without whilst maintaining the link to the master version of key pages in the content library.
Given the volume of sites being used, it's important that everything is as straightforward as possible for team members who might not have previous experience of working with a content management system. With the different roles available for users, I'm able to hide any unnecessary clutter from the back end of the site whilst making sure that the important tasks to customise a site for it's particular audience are only a click or two away.
A growing network
There are currently around 150 sites running on the network, supporting the business development team in their work around the world. As the relationships with the partner organisations develop over time, the microsite can grow with them offering up-to-date information about how they're performing and where they fit in with the wider range of work.