Hacking a better event creation interface on NationBuilder
While designing and building custom websites on NationBuilder may appear to be a daunting task, what’s much more difficult is building a NationBuilder theme for a group of people to use. We often work with alumni groups and distributed networks who are looking for a theme for all of their clubs and local organizations to use. This presents a lot of challenges. The theme needs to maintain all the functionality of an official NationBuilder theme. If we remove any functionality, no matter how small, the parent organization become inundated with support requests from their clubs who, seeing a feature on NationBuilder.com, are unable to generate the same behaviour on their sites. If we add too many custom features, our documentation becomes unruly, and clubs need too much training to make their sites work.
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Fortunately, maintaining that balance is what we do!
Which brings us to the events feature. The most common thing distributed groups and regional clubs do with NationBuilder is create events, and the number one issue they bring up is the cumbersome interface on the back end. This is understandable, since most of these groups are volunteer led, they don’t have the capacity to train on a new platform, and the majority of them are used to single-purpose services like EventBrite to run their events.
We came up with a simple solution to this challenge using user submitted events. The typical user submitted event creation page is a long form:
Compare this to a service such as EventBrite, that guides users through a process of creating events. It’s easy to see how folks may find EventBrite more intuitive.
We replicated this interface for one alumni organization using 3 customizations:
- When user submitted events are turned on, the calendar landing page shows a “Create new event” button only to site administrators. This way, admins can post from the front end but site visitors cannot. This obviously only works if the club does not use user submitted events in any other way.
- The landing page is redesigned to mirror the EventBrite interface as closely as possible. There are notably many features of events that can’t be created from the front end: adding images to a post, creating tickets, etc.)
- The resultant event page contains a dashboard at the top, visible to logged in admins only with short links to the back end. This fills in the gaps between the front end and back end features of the platform.
We would love to hear what you think! Comment below with questions and comments!