The Engine behind the Hoagie

There’s more to Wawa’s Hoagiefest than just enjoying delicious hoagies. On, June 1st, The Archer Group launched the micro-site for Wawa’s second annual Hoagiefest campaign. In the end this micro-site turned out to be not so “micro” after all. The site is designed around a contest where users can upload music and video entries for the public to view and rate. Though the plan didn’t include the full suite of Facebook-like community features, there is more to this than just a pretty upload form.

To meet the challenges of handling the media and community aspects of the site, we researched several video hosting providers and social network software packages. After much review and many test runs we picked Social Engine as the base for the contest site. Social Engine is a licensed social networking site engine built in PHP. After our review of the demonstration site and code preview we felt it would give us the best set of default functionality, plus the easiest customization. After purchasing the full product we also bought plug-ins for Music, Video and RSS feed functionality and installed several free plug-ins as well. This starting set of features let us hit the ground running with our own base community site.

Social Engine was quite easy to work with. It uses the Smarty Template system to separate programming logic on the back-end from layout and design logic on the front-end. As with all web sites, the two areas do clash occasionally, but our team worked well to iron out these trouble spots and mesh them together. A lot of the work entailed turning off or removing features that weren’t necessary for the site, like comments and personal profiles. We also added new pages like What’s New and My Entries which re-used functionality from other parts of the site, but in new ways. These features allow users to enjoy further interaction with the site. The RSS feed plug-in originally was only able to serve music information and had to be customized to serve video updates, as well as modified for use by the Flash side of the site. The rating system built into the video plug-in had to be replaced with the same one that is used by music to keep everything uniform. There were many tiny layout and design tweaks, too. But Social Engine’s template style and solid code documentation made it smooth for a developer to find what he or she is looking for and modify.

Thanks to Social Engine we created a unique site that entices viewers to interact with the Wawa brand. I would definitely recommend starting with Social Engine for the next community-driven site we build. Viewers should find visiting Hoagiefest entertaining and easy to use. What are you waiting for? Go check out our hard work!

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