What is a WordPress framework? A WordPress framework is the combination of WordPress, theme, a selection of plugins and online services to create a flexible, functional platform we can use to accomplish online marketing with relative ease of use.
What I didn’t mention but I’m sure you’re aware of is that it takes work on our part to find the right combination to suit our needs. And finding the right combination can take far more time than building the framework because there can be many technical details involved in hooking things up and getting them to work together. Sometimes you have to abandon a plugin or online service because it doesn’t do what you wanted or you found something better. Change is good but too much bouncing between plugins or services can cost a lot of time and money.
I’m in the middle of building a technology framework for the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (www.lcmm.org) so this has been on my mind for the past 7 months. The funny thing about WordPress, and websites in general, is that you can build whatever you want but in order to build something useful, you have to know the rules, make wise choices, be able to judge the value of spending money and effort for the expected return, as well as have a plan and strategy.
Personally, I learn best by seeing how someone else does something then I try doing it myself. This allows me to find the hidden details and gotchas and figure them out for myself. So my idea is: perhaps you’d find value in seeing what I’m building for the museum. I’ll give you the what, why, and how I built what you see as well as the plan and strategy that makes it go.
If you’re still here, great! So let’s start at the beginning, the situation I started with. When I was hired, the museum had a static HTML website with a WordPress blog added on sometime later. You can still see the old website at retired.lcmm.org. Google analytics was in place but no key performance indicators or business goals had been established. Marketing was not planned out and ad money was being spent without a way to measure return on investment. Social media use was primarily Facebook. For several other social media platforms there were multiple accounts and the accounts were setup by someone no longer at the museum. There was no documentation of what online services were being paid for and in use.
My first step was to identify what we had and get full control of all of the assets which includes to date:
- The website via FTP and access to the WordPress blog
- Website host (Hostgator)
Domain registrar (Network Solutions)
- Email marketing (Constant Contact)
- Social media accounts (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter)
- Online shopping cart (Volusion)
- Events calendar (Eventbrite)
- Google Analytics
- and several ancillary accounts
lay down a plan. The museum was shifting focus to be more education oriented. I won’t go into a lot of details but the gist of what we’re doing is using Lake Champlain, the largest body of freshwater in the eastern United States, as a platform for teaching about the environment, history, geology, teamwork, personal growth, and maritime skills. You can see a good example on our summer camps page (https://camps.lcmm.org). My job as director of marketing is to increase the sale of our summer camps, expeditions, school programming, professional development, and our nautical archaeology field school. So here were the obvious performance indicators:
- Number of registrants for camps
- Number of applicants for expeditions
- Number of students for school programming
- Number of teachers for professional development
- Number of divers for field school
That’s enough for now. If you’re still with me, I’ll share what followed and what I learned in the next installment.