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Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

August 16th, 2010

Case Study: The Pioneer Woman Super Widgets

WordPress is great because it makes it extremely easy for people to tell their story.

A big part of what we do on the Voce Platforms Team is enable clients use WordPress to tell their stories their way.

This more often than not results in a lot of custom development, but ultimately frees our clients from having to remember that closing </h2> and what CSS class that <div> had to have to line up with the side, and a whole host of other things not related to producing meaningful content.

The Problem: The Pioneer Woman Site Didn’t Make Use of Sidebars/Widgets so all Sidebar Content Had to be Manually Edited HTML.

Managing sidebars for 6 blogs even with the convenience of widgets is a job in of itself, let alone when you are homeschooling your kids, running a ranch, writing a cookbook, and documenting it all as content for said blogs.

Before Voce’s redesign of The Pioneer Woman, she was hand-editing HTML to update her sidebar content – something both time consuming and error prone.

Solution: Widgets!

Ree seemed to keep things consistent when creating sidebar content, and a pattern emerged:

Since Ree’s content consisted mostly of an image, title, and text/links – the Image/Title/Text Promo widget was born.

Using the above settings, the widget below is produced:

Hand editing HTML problem: solved.  But we took it one step further.

Many times, Ree was simply highlighting a recent post she had made on a certain blog, or in a certain category.  What if we could automate that?

Enter “Super Widgets”

Ree’s Super Widgets come in three flavors:

  • Single Post – Select a single post to display Title, Thumbnail, and Excerpt
  • Single Taxonomy – Display the most recent post in a selected taxonomy (category, tag, etc)
  • Multi Post – Display the most recent X posts in a selected taxonomy

With the Single Post Super Widget, it’s easy for Ree to find a single post she wants to display.

The content of the above widget won’t change unless the post content does.

For automatically renewed content, Ree can choose a Single Taxonomy or Multi Post Super Widget, as seen below:

The widget below will always show the most recent 3 posts in the “Random Critters” category.

And that’s how we help The Pioneer Woman wrangle her content!

As I said before, this is all about giving the person – or team – who is responsible for the content the simplest and easiest to use tools so they can do so effectively and without any unnecessary obstacles in their way.

About the Author
Jeff Stieler is an application developer for the Platforms team. When not coding, he pretends to be a beer snob and tries to figure out what's wrong with his car. On twitter he's @jeffstieler

Filed in Voce Platform Services, WordPress

Add Your Comment3 Responses to “Case Study: The Pioneer Woman Super Widgets”

Good Naija Girl on August 26th, 2010 at 12:16 am

The site looks fantastic, and I can see how widgets and “super widgets” will make Ree’s life much easier.

Jason on August 27th, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Cool. Are you going to make this available in the WP repository? I could really use one like this, especially if it can show the most recent from a specified custom post type. This almost sounds like Drupal’s views. You should really release this!

Debbie on February 19th, 2011 at 7:37 am

The featured images will not resize properly on the home page. I am using thumbnails for the featured image in the posts.