Portal Theme for sub sites

I have searched and have not found a good theme to sit on top or a network with the primary function to connect users directly to the network's sites.
It should function like the original yahoo or thumb nails that link directly to the network site or blog (or both). Always directly linking to the network site unless there is more than one site on the topic then it can use a pop up selection or page with further options.

  • 3SixtyEvolve

    Hi Sean

    Greetings from the WPMU DEV Support Team!

    Thank you for your feature request post. At WPMU DEV we are constantly striving to improve our plugins and themes and we do this by listening to our Users and using their feedback and suggestions constructively.

    I will follow up with the rest of the WPMU DEV Team and the Developers for an answer on your feature request and revert back to you at the earliest with feedback and/or possible solutions.

    In the meantime, if you require any further assistance with any other topic/ plugin, please don't hesitate to be in touch.

    Gina :: Multiplicity
    Trying out as WPMU DEV Support Staff - Let me know how I go

  • Sean

    Thank you. It would be great to see a theme with this functionality.

    I personally see the so many possibilities to use Wordpress networks to function synergistically around single purposes. We see solutions that allow the aggregation of the network's sites current blog posts to the networks main site. Think news network.

    This concept can be applied to so many topics to types of data. In another post I commented on WPMU's Events and Booking plugin. I could see offering each network site the ability to manage their own events. Ideally the site could be managed from the front end so a non technical site admin could propagate there own site with their own and other user created content, including events. In this case any of the sites using the event manager feature for their own events would be feeding the DB for all events which the main network site could display. So the lecturer, band and small business are all happy that they can post events on their own site and are comfortable with the procedure of adding an events. If the site were for a city then all the events in the city could be seen for any date or dates. A user could then click on an event and have the option to visit the site's calendar that posted the event to find other dates. This basic network data aggregation principle could be used for; one site's items for sale -> into classifieds, job listings -> into a main job bank, site announcements to network announcements, company sales -> to all sales, company coupons -> to all coupons...

    Imagine a real estate network with every agent having their own site. They put listings on their own personal site. All the agents listings are then available from the main site and the agents never left their own site. Working on their own site is comfortable and rewarding for someone less technical skill. (Facebook mentality works).

    It does not matter what the niche is. Consolidating data around most any topic works. Imagine bands. Every band has a site, The data for all the sites can be searched. So someone visiting any city could search for all the rock and roll bands playing while they are there, someone else might want jazz or blues.

    Putting information into directories is nowhere as gratifying or useful as getting a page or site about you or your business that you can tell others about or promote. Even though the amount of data entry is the same a person is less willing to lose their site then directory listing. The overall sense of investment is greater. It feel lie a more tangible loss and a loss of greater value. If they promoted their site on cards and marketing material the loss would be even greater. If they have a matching forwarding email on a good domain that they have started using the incentive to continue paying to be in the directory and maintain their site is even greater still.

    Think in terms of network design the same way we now think of theme design and build network solutions for specific markets.

    I myself will most likely take a directory solution and modify it for a couple of projects I'm working on. Same concept, give a non technical users a site that they can make their own business website with using a easy to use front end, maybe by using something like gravity forms. Each business owner will builds their site on a subdomain because the domains I am using are pretty desirable. They will get a matching email address. If they want they can pay for domain mapping. Their business website will automatically be in the directory using the content they entered from their own site.

    The creation could be reversed by making the site from data entered into the directory.I will probably start this way with the data being entered into the directory and then use a static page on a subdomain with an iFrame. This is easy for the designer/developer to work out but more intimidating to the user.

    A hybrid could work too - Present an offer of a directory listing, business site, email address that forwards to their current email along with other membership perks. Charge a subscription price. Have them enter the basic information like business name email, phone, desired subdomain / matching email, etc. Then they pay and their site is automatically activated, they are redirected back to their new site so they can put any additional information they want to put about their business. The directory will immediately have the minimum basic information from the initial data they entered. The email address that matches the subdomain is created at signup and directed to the email they gave (they can change where the email is directed from their site later). They get their business identity online with a website and matching email address. Their site have lots of features like being able to post items for sale on their site which automatically goes into the classifieds, company job listings which go on their site and into the main job bank, site announcements to network announcements, company sales to all network sales page or search, company coupons to network coupons listings and events to network wide event listings. Their getting promotion from all the network directories; business directory, job listings, classifieds, events, etc. They feel like they are getting a lot of services. Most smaller businesses will have minimal traffic so the demand on the server will be low relative to the high perceived value of what the customer is getting.

    Along with domain mapping a smaller business can easily have a professional online image that is very functional and valuable in terms of all the things they are getting. A well designed and effective network should provide worthwhile results for the businesses.

    Providing all of these services without the users ever needing to access the backend is important.

  • bynon

    Sean,

    I like your ideas. I'm currently doing something similar for a market-specific network. I think it is a valuable service.

    I'm creating an additional service, as well. I have a content library that distributes high value content to Premium members. The content is written using spintax so that each member receives a different version of the same material. I create it once and sell it over and over. I'm looking at doing the same thing for paid blog posting within the network, too.

    I agree that more capabilities are needed to "dumb it down" for users. Most of my clients don't have the time to learn WordPress, let alone a dozen or more essential plugins. I'd prefer to shield most of my clients from all of these details. I do this today by offering fully managed services, but not everyone can afford it.

    David

  • Sean

    Hi David,

    You're right.

    Imagine selling computers that come with a word processor, but to write a letter the enduser needs tech support to set it up. Then they need to teach them how to use it and be available to manage and support the word processing application. That sure is a lot of wasted human energy just to allow someone to write letters.

    Years ago you needed a programer to write you a program if you wanted a word processor. You needed someone to train you to use it or you needed to be smart enough to read and understand an instruction manual, which needed to exist for that to even be an option. Then you still might not understand so you needed to have support available. This is where we are now with Wordpress.

    Providing useful services for clients, customers and members and shielding them from unnecessary confusion is very important. Much of the current Wordpress development assumes the end user is going to be a technical Wordpress user or will become one. As developers we need to evolve to the next level and realize that what we need to be developing is solutions that use Wordpress as an engine.

    You do not need to be a mechanic to drive a car or an electrician to turn on a light. We as the mechanics and the electricians need to design the machinery so our customers, clients and members can turn the keys and flip the switches themselves without us having to teach them, help them or do it for them.

    In my opinion Facebook does not have the friendliest user interface, but it is far more manageable for most people than it would be if the user needed to use Wordpress's backend to create and manage their profile.

    One of the best user interfaces I have seen on the web is okcupid.com. It is simple and powerful. If you not single and want to check it out, get a single friend to join and help them set up their profile.

    Facebook, okcupid and the like are just data management systems. What is Wordpress? It is a data management system. So don't use a Wordpress network to give a regular person a blog, give them a place and a way to EASILY manage something they care about. This is the unseen next evolutionary step for Wordpress networks. There are tons of themes and plugins, many competing to do the same things. We still need these, and more and better ones will be great, but thinking of Wordpress networks as applications and designing powerful whole network solutions is the next big thing with Wordpress.

    In simple terms it is like a specialized theme for the whole network. Buddypress is an example of this but only somewhat so because if you allow members to have a blog they are exposed to the backend. With an elegant solution users should NEVER see the backend or even know that they are using Wordpress, (they should not need to).

    Shielding users from the backend will allow us all to have more time to be creative and allow us to grow networks and our customer bases without turning ourselves into employees. You can't build the next Facebook if a human or humans constantly need to manage aspects of the process.

    For me, I do not want to create a job for myself, I want to create businesses that work without me.

    Sean

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