I just got back from my first Northern Voice. With so many knowledgeable folks in one place, I took the opportunity to ask for ideas on how to solve a couple of problems…
Volunteer Management Systems
I just finished building a new website for the Sunshine Coast Habitat for Humanity affiliate, in which I volunteer. Our volunteer chair, Cassandra, wants a better way to manage the volunteer database. She finds the one we have currently (I think it’s in Access) cumbersome to access and manage. So I asked around yesterday – it was fun, kind of like a scavenger hunt, and a good reason to start conversations with people.
The objective was to find ideas for a system that can:
- keep track of volunteers and their info: contact, area of intrest/skills, etc.
- send e-mail messages to the volunteers
- possibly track their hours
I asked William Azaroff who suggested I ask Rob Cottingham. Rob suggested maybe CiviCRM but that Nancy White and Boris Mann would have good ideas. Boris also suggested CiviCRM and that I should blog about it and see what others have to say. (Duh. Why didn’t I think of that?) So, dear reader, do you have any experience with or suggestions for this problem?
Mixing Pages and Categories in WordPress Navigation
I also had another problem to solve related to the Habitat website which I built using WordPress. When you use WordPress as a content management system you might want to use posts for content other than blog posts. I used it for the FAQ section and for posts of volunteer opportunities in the volunteer section. So I wanted the main navigation to list pages and categories all together in a decent order. I ended up building it like so:
wp_list_pages('exclude=11,40,38&title_li=') wp_list_categories('include=4,6,3&orderby=order&title_li='); wp_list_pages('title_li=&include=11')
But, that’s not very elegant for site management by less wp-savvy users as they add pages over time.
I posed the problem to Matt Mullenweg, inventor of WordPress. (I must admit I felt a bit like a groupie going up to talk to him…) He said there’s a plugin for displaying categories in pages (which so far I can’t find), or that another solution would be to use the Blogroll for the navigation. That’s an interesting idea. I like that less technical users would be able to manage the navigation that way, though the possibilities for some bad usability like linking to completely different sites in the main navigation concerns me.
I think a cool solution would be if there were a plugin like My Page Order, which lets you order the pages in drag and drop fashion, but one that listed pages and categories together. That would be just sweet. Anyone know of such a beast or have other suggestions for this problem?
Not just a scavenger Hunt
There was much, much more to the conference than my little scavenger hunt. The open mic at the Tiki party was great (thanks Airdrie!). Made me laugh a lot and almost made me cry. I thanked Kim for reading her post about art and life and courage. Her closing words in that post, along with the post “Practicing Yes” by Ariane were a good reminder to put myself out there more, shyness be damned. Luckily, with so many open and friendly attendees, Northern Voice is a great place to do just that.