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Playing in the Sandbox for Meeting Professionals

The web is an amazing thing for meeting and event professionals, it enables us to do things efficiently and fast, especially when it comes to attendee registration.

Your conference website and registration site are your lifeline and website builders like WordPress, Joomla, Weebly and others have made it possible for those on the meeting planning team to do the heavy lifting when it comes to web design. Heck, it is so easy to build quality sites now that my 5 5-year-oldas his own blog.

This is all well and good but let me lay out a scenario for you…

Becky and Bob on your planning team have built the most amazing website in the WORLD for your client’s conference, it is running like a charm and you have integrated it seamlessly with your registration software provider…. you are halfway to attendance goals already!

Bob just learned about a new plugin that you can use to integrate social media into the mix and is excited to implement it because he has tried it on another site and it is AWESOME! He shows you and Becky the other site and you agree, it is really freaking cool and WOW, the attendees are gonna go nuts!

You give the greenlight and Bob runs to his desk to upload and activate the new plugin, all goes well and he hits the install button and BAM…..

The sight goes down and stays down for 72 hours because 2 plugins had a conflict.. you now have to call in a WordPress expert to get this mess straightened out, the client is pissed and the attendees have been ringing your phone for hours and to make matters worse, you had never backed up the site files so you hang your head and start packing your desk for your new job standing on the unemployment line.

This did not need to happen, you never need to fear… All you needed was sometime in the sandbox.

What you say? Am I nuts…

No, I am reasonably sane (nothing is perfect)… A sandbox is a place where you go to test out new things before you let them run loose in the real world…. a mirror website.

Domains are a dime a dozen so it pays to set up an exact copy of important sites and keep them hidden from the search engines (make sure that they are not indexed).. When you want to try a new feature or plugin, you try it here first… if it works perfect, go ahead and do it on the actual site. If it goes Kaplooey.. who cares, this was just your sandbox. You re-upload your backup file and it is back to business as usual to figure out what two items are not playing nicely together.

This is a very simple and ass-saving measure to implement….go do it.

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