The old Duane Morris Institute website suffered from speed and design issues that were limiting the performance of the site. To solve these problems, we performed a full-site redesign that retained the same layout as the previous site, but which was updated to be more modern and easier for visitors to use. Some of the new features we added are eCommerce support, a custom plugin to sync the site to an external learning platform, and single sign-on to streamline the process for users.
DMi’s old storefront relied on a third-party eCommerce site to facilitate the purchasing of course access. To streamline the buying process and keep visitors on the DMi site, we opted to integrate eCommerce support directly with WooCommerce. Now, visitors can shop and sign up for courses on the DMi site, which simplifies and streamlines the process.
This also served as an experiment in whether we could create a user-friendly education storefront with a course catalog on a platform intended for selling physical products. The storefront itself works just like any other online shop, with the courses being added to a shopping cart as products. We then relied on a custom plugin and single sign-on to reliably serve the purchased courses to the customers.
Custom Plugin Creation
DMi’s courses are served through the Thomson Reuters Learning Center, which didn’t already have a WordPress plugin we could make use of. So, we decided to develop our own that allowed WordPress and the Learning Center to synchronize so the DMi website always displays an up-to-date course listing without courses having to be manually added to and removed from both the Learning Center and the DMi site separately.
While this wasn’t our first time developing a custom plugin to meet a client’s needs, each custom plugin comes with its own set of challenges to work through and gain experience from.
SAML Integration for Single Sign-On
Continuing the trend of streamlining DMi’s site for ease-of-use, we implemented Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) as a form of single sign-on to allow users to automatically be signed into the Thomson Reuters Learning Center when they sign into the DMi site. This integration creates a seamless user experience between the DMi site where courses are purchased and the Learning Center where they’re hosted. By removing some of the hurdles that were in place with the old setup, we have allowed users to transition between purchasing and learning with ease.
Showcasing Our Capabilities
While WooCommerce (our eCommerce solution of choice) is primarily used for selling physical goods, we’ve shown that it can be just as effective when it comes to selling digital goods, such as online courses, PDFs, and subscriptions. Additionally, while most sites don’t need custom plugins, our work on the DMi site illustrates our ability to create bespoke solutions when needed. And, although this was the first time we incorporated SAML into a site, we’ve learned that it may be a good option for other, similar sites in the future.