How we built the new Admiral PR website

What goes into a good WordPress website? We go into a bit of detail using the Admiral PR website as an example.

We’re very proud of the Admiral PR website. It not only looks great and works brilliantly, but it makes use of some of the new WordPress 3.0 functionality to good effect, and also contains some sneaky jQuery which lifts the site in some subtle ways.

We’re going to examine why the site worked out so well, before discussing what went on under the hood.

For a start it was a pleasure working with Admiral PR on the project, and their enthusiasm for WordPress and the marketing advantages that it brings was very helpful during the early design stages. Having a client who understood the value of social marketing, and the importance of a regularly updated website, enabled us to build a site around those features.

Admiral PR map

From a designers perspective it is much easier to design a  site when there’s a strong brief and a client knows what direction they want to go in from the word go, and with the Admiral PR website we had a brief which emphasised the importance of communication, and this acted as a theme which runs through the Admiral PR website.

To add to the positives, the design also benefited from a strong brand which was recently produced by another North East based company, Stark Hartley Atkinson. The strong colours of the new logo were easy to work with online, and whilst it was important to not go overboard with the pink, it certainly makes an impact wherever it was used:

Admiral PR logos old and new

So these factors combined with our solid understanding of what Admiral PR wanted from their website really helped us nail the look and feel down.

Technically speaking

Technically the site uses WordPress. We tend to use WordPress for every site we build these days, and while that’s partly because we are familiar with it and feel it’s the best CMS on the market, it’s also because WordPress handles social media extremely well, and seems to rank naturally very well on Google.

There’s also a fair bit of jQuery built into the site, although it’s fairly subtle. The point of jQuery here was to deliver information as easily as possible to site visitors, whilst not cluttering up the website. A good example of this is the neat way in which we’ve built company address information into the footer. It would have been easy to have simply written these up one after the other, but by building them into an accordion with jQuery we’ve saved space and created a funky piece of interactivity:

Admiral PR footer

jQuery is also used to display client information from both the main Clients & Credentials section of the website, and the sidebar.

Content Management

The Admiral PR website takes advantage of a few new WordPress 3 features such as; custom post types, custom menus, and post thumbnails. By harnessing these new features we’ve made the Content Management System really easy to use.

So many clients struggle with tricky and outdated Content Management Systems. It’s always a priority for us to build sites that are not only easy to update, but also fun to use. When people see how easy it is to update their websites we find that they actually start to enjoy the process, and this in turn improves the quality and regularity of the content that goes online.

Take a look at the image on the left and you’ll see the simplicity of the main interface, and how easy it is to add a new client.

In the past we’d have to have built a system that used post categories for clients, people and the like, but this was a cumbersome and counter-intuitive method. Thanks to the new custom post types in WordPress 3 we can build a much more natural system.

Kino Creative’s Simon has written a good article on using custom post types here.

Another useful WordPress 3 feature we made use of is customisable navigation menus. In the past, you could make a navigation list of all pages or all categories but anything else would have to be hard coded. The navigation on the Admiral PR site though, can be fully customised by the client through the dashboard to show whatever links are necessary.

Finally features such as the 3D wordcloud in the News & views section, and the simple yet elegant jQuery gallery in the People section all add up, and really help to lift the Admiral PR website off the page.