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  1. #1
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    Question Need CMS Advice for Social Networking Site

    I have a potential client whom I'm meeting with tomorrow morning that would need a CMS to help run her business. She's just starting out with a sort of "biggest loser" contest that she's had really good success with in our city for four times now, so wants to go bigger and make a bit of a business out of it and make a difference.

    She would need:
    • user/team registration (teams of 4)
    • fees paid online (via PayPal)
    • news and updates along the way
    • team areas where each team member can keep in touch with other team members
    • blog-type posts by members to give their personal updates for others to read
    • ad banner sales


    I've worked with CMS Made Simple for a few years now, but this thing will need something more than that due to the social networking aspect of this job, and I'd rather have something that will basically work more "out of the box", as I'm not a programmer - I'm a designer who loves using CMS's. LOL (In other words, I know enough programming to be extremely dangerous... )

    Aaaanyway... I was looking at Joomla! last night, with something like Community Builder or jSocialSuite added to it. That seemed do-able, and it looks like the template system doc's are well laid out.

    This morning I was looking at WordPress/BuddyPress combo, which also seems fairly do-able, possibly, if the membership thing would work with it.

    Then I hopped on here and found that many folks seem to think Drupal is "da bomb", so now I'm wondering which one might be the best for the job. Any opinions??

    I'm not afraid of doing a bit of learning. In fact, with each of these three options, that would be just a given at the moment. But in light of the fact that I would then have something to build on for future clients as well, I'm good with that.

    If you prefer one over the other, it would be great to know the "why" behind it, too.

    Cheers,
    Coleen

  2. #2
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    ralph.m's Avatar
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    You could do this very easily with ExpressionEngine. You don't need any PHP knowledge, but you do have to learn how the CMS works. EE also costs a bit, but a free alternative is MODx. Both EE and MODx are easier to use and more intuitive than Drupal, Joomla etc. (from what I've read).
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  3. #3
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    OK Ralph, you got my attention. I've just had a run over to EE and had a quick look. I found the Multiple Site Manager add-on and got highly excited. Then I found this in the FAQ's:

    Can I use ExpressionEngine to create a blogging service or MySpace type site?

    The major licensing restriction in ExpressionEngine is that it cannot be used as the basis of a hosted blogging venture such as Blogger.com or MySpace.com. If you are intending to offer blogs to the general public this is not allowed under the terms of our licensing, even if you are giving away the blogs for free.

    License issues aside, ExpressionEngine does not currently have a management system in place that permits a user to sign up and receive a totally configured weblog. You’d have to manually set-up each weblog and assign it to a user. Templates have to be created, member groups have to be assigned, etc. While ExpressionEngine supports multiple weblogs, a blogging service requires a lot of extra backend functionality in order to permit easy management (or more appropriately, self management), which means ExpressionEngine is not a suitable fit for the task.
    So the "blog" thing looks like it might be out for this kind of project - however, if she were willing to go with a forum, that looks possible. And personally, that's the way I'd go, but then, I happen to like forums. However, I think it would actually end up being the more economical way for her to go in this case. I'll obviously still be getting more info tomorrow morning at our meeting, of course.

    On another note
    - the Multiple Site Manager looks really interesting. I've been thinking that whether my client wants a CMS or not (i.e., if not, and wanting me to do the updating of the site info/content), I'll be putting their site into a CMS. They don't have to know it's already in a CMS and if I'm the one updating, it will just be sooooo much easier and faster in the long run.

    So I'm thinking I could, perhaps, put my own biz site into EE, then use that installation with the MSM to create my other sites (those that wish me to host their site, that is), and manage all from one online control panel.

    Sounds like a dream. Am I barking up the wrong tree? Does this make business sense to anyone? (Kind of a side topic, eh? LOL)


    EDIT: OK, maybe I was wrong - you just have multiple bloggers, but on the same blog. I suppose you could set up categories that would pertain to each team, etc. Am I right? (It looks so exciting, this EE! )

  4. #4
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    ralph.m's Avatar
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    From what you said above, I don't think the blog situation is a problem. You can set up sections in an EE site where each user would have his/her/their own blog pages, but you as the designer or site owner would set up the site that way. For example, an organization may have lots of different departments, each with its own section of the website that different people are responsible for updating.

    If that's not what you were after, I probably misunderstood you. As the quote said, you can't build a sort of wordpress.com site with EE offering separate websites to people.

    As for the multiple site manager, it's not really designed for what you described. Firstly, I think there's a max of three sites per account, and secondly they all have to be on the same server. The point of it really is that CMS entries can be shared across the multiple sites etc, which is a bit different from managing all of your clients' sites.

    For that purpose, you might like to check out a VPS (virtual private server) where you can view all of your client sites via WHM (web host manager). It's not quite the same, but still pretty handy.
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  5. #5
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    OK, I think I gotcha. I'm still reading through the site and it's still looking good. Haven't got to the templating part yet, that's next.

    I see that additional site licences for the MSM are $50, so I guess that's how they work extra sites. I do have a reseller's account with a WHM, so that bit I'm set up for, essentially. I tend to focus on small or home-/family-based businesses who need a good site for their biz, so if they're looking for hosting, it's just so much easier to offer mine and have it "all under one roof".

    Thanks so much for your input, it's been really helpful. I'm kind of at the point in my career where I'd like to use basically one product, get really good at it, and run with it. And I don't mind buying something as long as it's worth the price. From what I'm seeing so far, EE is priced reasonably and seems to be highly thought of and well-loved and supported. I'll continue my research in this direction. Cheers for the help!

    Coleen

  6. #6
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    I could basically copy your whole answer and apply it to myself—doing mainly small sites and hosting them on my VPS, looking for one platform to use for all sites. I do think EE is a good choice.

    There are some good ebooks you can buy that take you step-by-step through it, which I've found helpful.

    I also use a little CMS called Perch, which is great if the client just needs to simple content updates without all the power that EE gives. And I sometimes use WordPress too for purely blog sites. But I've drawn the line now. Those are the tools.
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  7. #7
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    here is a free social script:http://www.jcow.net
    whats the "fees paid online", you want sell membership?

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the link, kusoli. I'll keep that one bookmarked.

    Yes, she's looking to sell memberships that would last for the duration of each contest run.


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