How I've Built the Platform

I've built SMW Insider on our company's existing Wordpress Multisite architecture - the global platform. I begin every platform build this way, as it enables me to pull / push conference-related data between projects. Our editorial and content team interfaces with a CMS and publishes content to SMW Insider by leveraging data from our global platform. OnDemand videos are stored and delivered to us by JWPlayer and live content by Livestream.

Access to the platform resides behind a paywall which is powered by a variety of complex Woo-commerce subscription services. A User's access to the platform is monitored and metered by active and continual subscriptions, which users purchase and auto-pay in order to gain and maintain access.

The platform provides these active subscribers the ability of watching live sessions from our flagship conferences. Additionally, subscribers can access a growing library of OnDemand content composed of over 1000 sessions, interviews, and panels from prior conferences.

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My Approach to its Interface

I make sure that everything I design and develop is responsive. My approach is driven by the device the end-user is using to access the platform - from the the position and availability of content, menus and CTAs, the way in which I encourage them to interact with the content is unique and carefully considered. In that sense, SMW Insider has a unique look for every type of device out there.

Content that is carefully tagged and categorized in the CMS is then made filterable and searchable in real-time by a variety of criteria. I was heavily inspired by creating an interface that revealed all content that is available on the platform to the subscriber. My goal was to put the subscriber in control; enabling them to see everything and then have them be able to live-sort the content based on a what they're interested in viewing.

In addition, I've launched features such as playlists, which our team carefully curates and makes available to all subscribers throughout the year. I've also developed a way for subscribers to bookmark and save their favorite content. Content saved on one device can then be watched on another that the subscriber logs in with.


The Utility of the Platform

SMW Insider began as a standalone platform. Its primary objective was to grow our subscriber base. Today, while subscribers can still pay for access, the platform has become a complimentary pass add-for our paying conference attendees. Those that purchases passes to SMW conferences, receive complimentary access. This enables our attendees to catch up with sessions and events that they've might have missed during the week.

In addition, the platform has become a useful live-casting solution which we offer at our conference venues. Our team projects the platform on large digital displays enabling attendees to watch sessions as they happen whenever sessions stages become full or multiple sessions are occurring at once.

Partnerships with Universities

We've recently entered into a partnership with The University of Michigan's Ross School. Students at the university's business program, under the guidance of Marcus Collins, have specialized access to the platform. I've build out custom subscription access packages for Ross School's students enabling them to access curated video content crafted by our and the University's teams.

As soon as they signup, SMW Insider provides them with their own unique landing page providing them with curated playlist content. Both our and the Ross school's team continue to curate additional playlists catered to the students' curriculum.

With nearly 3 years of content, 1000+ videos, 400 hours of content, and growing, there are plenty of opportunities for me to adapt the platform to future partnerships with other schools. It's exciting to watch the platform grow.

Under the Hood

There's quite a bit of technology, open-source platforms, and tools that aided me in launching the platform. Each of them serves a specific purpose in keeping the platform stable, healthy, and functional to the subscriber.

  • Wordpress
  • JWPlayer
  • Livestream
  • Woocommerce
  • Bootstrap
  • MMenu
  • Mixitup
  • FontAwesome
  • PHP
  • JQuery
  • CSS
  • Photoshop

What's Next?

I've recently started unlocking various portions of Insider to visitors. Specific areas of the site were no longer hidden behind the paywall. In 2019, I'll continue to do this in order to focus on visitors exploring the platform on their own, rather than our content and editorial teams telling them what's inside.

However, watching the actual footage will still require an active subscription and I've already begun developing various prompts and notifications that guide visitors through the journey of becoming a member and subscribing.

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