netFORUM Pro is a widely adopted association management system (AMS). It provides several interfaces that can be used for member interaction.
- eWeb or “external web” which is a web based interface where members can perform certain actions – like purchase renewals, buy products etc.
- xWeb is the “XML web service” interface. Mostly a programming API to interact with netFORUM Pro.
- iWeb is the “internal web” interface, which the administrative users of netFORUM Pro use to manage customer information.
For the purposes of this blog post, we will be looking at eWeb and extending eWeb functionality using WordPress to enhance end-user experience. While eWeb has a lot of inbuilt functionality like member directory, storefront etc., it offers limited workflow customization options and is not responsive. Most organizations have a public facing website that serves some of their members’ needs but will send them over to eWeb for certain activities. Because eWeb cannot exactly match the aesthetics of their general website, this can confuse members and hurt the overall feel of the website.
Instead, organizations can leverage their website to integrate with netFORUM Pro and provide their members with a better user experience. One thing to note is that for all e-commerce related activities, you will still need to continue to use eWeb. While this integration is possible with any website, one popular platform we would recommend organizations consider in WordPress Content Management System (CMS). WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS, hosting some of the internets most popular sites and is able to handle large amounts of traffic.
WordPress’s success is largely due to it being open source, leading to wide adoption and a thriving, dedicated developer community. And because it’s so popular, there are numerous extensions (or as WordPress calls them plug-ins) available, that extend the functionality of the WordPress CMS. We at fusionSpan have developed a few plug-ins for WordPress that leverage netFORUM Pro’s xWeb API. So much so that you don’t need two separate sites and can instead allow users to seamlessly move between your CMS and netFORUM Pro’s eWeb. Some of the plug-ins we have developed and are being actively used include:
- Single Sign On – Lets your members sign into your Wordpress site using their netFORUM Pro credentials so that members only need one login and password to access all your information. This also allows your site to have hyperlinks which can send users to the eWeb site without the users having to sign in again. Additionally, members who forget their login can reset their password from your site.
- Access control – Lets you control access to certain sections of your site to Active members, or to members that have certain characteristics, such as relationship type, committee membership or even state of residency.
- Member Directory – Create a list of members that is driven by the member data in netFORUM Pro. Updates automatically, so that your website stays current. What information you choose to display can be completely customized.
- Profile Sync – Lets your members manage their profile information directly from the WordPress site. For frequently changing information like addresses and phone numbers, it’s much more convenient to build an address update form in WordPress instead of having members call in or struggle with eWeb to update their information. Changes made in netFORUM Pro automatically flow to WordPress as well.
- Committee Listings – Display a list of committees and participants.
- Event Listings – Manage all your events in netForum, but list them on your WordPress website.
- Registration – Allow users to sign up right on your main website. Their registration information will automatically be added to netForum.
And this list only begins to scratch the surface of what is possible. All these features and others can be seen our WordPress demo site. The basic idea is that you can have a single Web presence for your organization, while still using netFORUM Pro as your Association Management System.