Edgewood Sailing School

Database-driven e-commerce website with accounting and communications support

Llamagraphics has worked with the Adult Program and Community Director of the sailing school since 2009 to build a new website for the Edgewood Sailing School. The original goal was simply to make the existing Dreamweaver/Contribute site easier to update, but we soon began enhancing the site to better serve the sailing school’s students and staff.

This ambitious long term project aimed not only to improve the public-facing parts of the site, but also to provide a back office environment where instructors and staff could share responsibility for running the school. Our goals were to organize class listings and schedules, automate the registration process, maintain student account balances, accept online payments and donations, track student attendance and instructor assignments, and maintain mailing lists and newsletters. In other words, to make the web site the central hub of the administrative work flow for the sailing school.

Timeline:

2008: The Edgewood Sailing School was seeking to update its operations. Registering students was predominately a manual paper driven process.  Registrations were sent in by mail, and student records were stored in a single-user database accessible to only one staff member. The sailing school had a basic website maintained with Dreamweaver and Contribute. The web site included class listings and contact information, but the site was very difficult to edit without contacting the hosting company for assistance. 

2009: Llamagraphics recommended to the sailing school to base the new site on Drupal 6 because of its robust architecture and rich library of third-party modules. In order to smooth the transition between the existing single-user database and new website, we built a bridge so that the new web databases could be accessed and edited from the more familiar FileMaker environment. As the new website began taking on more functionality, the FileMaker database was gradually phased out.

One of the first changes was to migrate the class listings from a single web page to a database-driven format, which made the course descriptions easier to keep up to date and the class schedules more accurate. Using CSS styles allowed the presentation of the text for the class listings to be more consistently formatted. Once the course information was in the database, we were also able to make the schedules available as downloadable calendars.

The sailing school also requested that we create for them a custom Drupal module for scoring student sailboat races and sailing regattas. 

2010: Building from the course descriptions, we added online registration for classes. This was first implemented for the Adult Program, replacing the manually maintained paper system. We added email newsletters, a frequently asked questions section, discussion forums for navigation students, and an instructor assignments system to track staff hours.

2011: The online registration process was extended for use by the Youth Program. The registration system was then integrated with Drupal user accounts to maintain student account balances. This allowed us to add online payment options and donations via PayPal.

We also created a custom module for cross-posting news stories to the sailing school page on Facebook. 

2012:  We added a course capacity/waitlist system that let students know when classes were full and allowed the staff to handle waitlisted students.

2013:  Goals for this season include additional scripting to automate entry of transactions for the school’s accounting system based on student statements from the web site. 

The sailing school home page features the latest news headlines, and links to Facebook and Twitter