Site of the week: MyBabyOurBaby.com
When I first saw Beau and Ray’s site, mybabyourbaby.com, I was impressed two ways: first, as a parent and second as an MU admin.
From a user perspective, it’s different from pretty much all parent/baby sites out there that I have seen, and I have four children. That’s what they did well first off: provide the user with something different AND a way to connect familes together. The site takes a blog and completely turns it on its edge, calling it a scrapbook or just book and featuring photos, videos and then posts about the baby in your life.
There’s the clean slick design on the main pages, with the bare minimum – but important – menu items in handy locations. I was impressed to see that the color scheme didn’t have a hint of pink or blue. When you get to the signup page, there’s a whole pile of information collected and you can even add additional users to the blog when you create it. Even the activation email is restyled and customized.
The backend is completely overhauled and integrated with the design of the main site. I hardly recognized a thing. It’s been stripped down and reoganized specifically for their audience. They’ve even provided their own custom themes for users. The main focus is on the sharing of pictures, with the added bonus of telling the story to go along with it. Even the baby has their own profile. I like how the page headings say “The Life of *babyname*” and make it a celebration of sharing all about the baby.
You know when I first had children, we had to write things down on paper in baby books. By the time I had baby number three, she was 6 months old before I even bought a baby book for her (on clearance too). But baby #4 was a big surpise after an eight-year gap, and by then I was blogging my own life, so hers has been documented all along. I really wish I had known about a site like this. My baby boy, kid #1, is 20 and married so maybe I can use it for future grandchildren. 😀
To get deeper into the technical aspects, I asked Beau if he wouldn’t mind answering a few questions, despite my legendary typos and his travelling. 😉 We talked about how long it took to create (about 6 months) and how much time is spent on the site on a daily basis (a couple hors a day at least), and the good stuff: custom work and challenges.
What was the biggest challenge in getting it running?
Beau: Because of the approach that we took, we had *heaps* of additional development required to replicate/create a customized “admin panel” for our users. That has taken a lot of work, and required me to really get to know WPMU on a level that has at times been painful 🙂 . Our custom posting/uploading process has also taken a lot of work, but I think it’s worth it.
Got any inside goodies or tidbits? 😉
Beau: We’re working on a couple new themes right now, and are hoping to release our first external integration for providing extra functionality to users (that’s all I’ll give you for now :P).
Now I’m intrigued. Any tips for fellow MU admins?
Beau: Don’t be afraid to use plugins. There are *thousands* of plugins out there, so go and explore and see what you can find. If there’s something that is licensed in a way that makes it OK for you to use, then go for it. If there’s no license, email the author and find out (get an email to keep on file for your record). Also don’t be afraid to get an existing plugin and hack it to pieces if it’s remotely related to what you want to do. Often just looking into plugins will help you find some additional hooks/filters that you didn’t know about that can be handy.
I’m also looking to put together a bit of a general dashboard because I know we want to see some key metrics like how many people are registering each day, the number of posts they’re posting, people per “blog”, etc etc. So if I ever get around to making that remotely “nice”, maybe that will be available as a plugin as well!
I have a feeling if I said you had custom plugins you’re planning on releasing, you’d get hassled a lot.
Beau: Feel free to mention that I’m wanting to release plugins. People bugging me will give me a bit more motivation to get it out there 🙂 And if anyone wants to sponsor the release of a specific portion of functionality as a plugin then that’s possible as well. I already have one under development/polishing in this manner. As a rough idea, here are a couple of the plugins I’m hoping to get out:
– “Slick Comments” (the completely AJAX-powered, nested comments that we use, with avatars where available)
– “WPMU Invitations” (allowing users to send out email invitations to an email address, and then when the recipient signs up, they are automatically added to the blog of the inviter, with the role they specified)
– “Avatar Manager” (simple system for uploading an image and then cropping 2 versions for use within your templates/profiles etc — this is being sponsored now)
– “Beau’s Blog Meta” (ability to store blog–user meta data in a table which is much more efficient for “global” queries
There are a couple other possibilities, but I need to see how much sense it makes to cut them out as stand-alone plugins.
Well, I for one can’t wait to see what else Beau and Ray can bring to the community. Well done guys. I bet your moms are proud. 😀