I originally estimated it was going to take about 20 hours to get the site-up and initial materials moved. Well, that was a gross understatement. Here we are about 120 hours later and finally got the initial loads moved to the new site.
I am fairly happy with our new community software called Invision Power Suite. It was first released in its current form (previously called IPB) in early 2015. The documentation is weak, but the user community fairly strong. I purchased the site migration services to move the forums, users and gallery from the old software (vBulletin).
I hope you like the the menu structure we picked. We can adapt it, but I think it melds well to be a partial adjustment from the old site to the new capabilities.
As mentioned we moved users & user credentials, forum posts, and gallery images. I had to spend a fair amount of time reorganizing the galleries and make adjustments to the others. I used the new software to implement some new capabilities:
- TMGwiki - This will replace our knowledgebase over time. I was able to install the old knowledgebase software and it runs as a separate application on this new site like it ended up in the old site. The TMGwiki is built within the current IPS software and I have it set that registered users can contribute or edit materials that aren't locked (completed). We are working to move materials from the old knowledgebase, but ultimately anyone can add new materials. This should allow us to build our resources even faster.
- Files - As part of the TMGwiki we designed a system to upload and share files.
- Classifieds - I used the IPS software to design a simple Classifieds database for people to post things they want to sell (or buy). This was a popular part of the old site and I hope to make it valuable again. Currently it's free. To make this work I had to write some code to display multiple photos that are uploaded. Interestingly I posted my code on the IPS Community Forum and have already gotten feedback that others have used it. :-)
- Payments - I used the IPS Commerce package to design a store/shopping cart system for memberships, merchandise, and prepayment of event tickets. It currently accepts PayPal or sending in checks. I am waiting for "Admin" to get us permission to accept credit card payments.
- Events - The built-in calendar system lets anyone post events and it keeps track of those who might attend. Our chairman, however, wants more detailed sign-up sheets to optimize our events. So rather than using the 'hand-coded' spreadsheets on the previous site, I found a way to embed 'Google Sheets' into webpages within our site. This works fairly cleanly. I hope to do some customization in the future so anyone can insert a Google Sheet into a page within the site.
- Newsletters - I converted the built-in blog system within IPS into a newsletter system. We current support 3 newsletters (blogs). One is called Chairman's Corner, Event News, and Webmaster Updates (this one). I did spend about 10 hours bringing the older Chairman's Corner and Event News over from the old site so we will have a historical record.
My strategy is to continue upgrade the Library and work on Help Files and Tutorials so the website will get easier and easier for us to use. I have a number of backed items I need to tune, but it won't be long before we will have a new community.
Please keep suggestions coming on how we can do a better job of engaging.