City Coupons

City Coupons, a very recent project, in essence is a full content management for coupons. Using the system you are able to add printable, SMS and viewable coupons to your website. In addition to this, the system has a range of other features to offer. Started at the beginning of November ’09 and completed with version 1.0.2 in February ’10 its certainly been a large but exciting project.

Startup

In November I was asked to create a piece of coupon management software that would:

  • Allow businesses to sign up and pay automatically.
  • Enable businesses to manage their business profiles on the site, including locations, media, descriptions and above all coupons & offers.
  • Give the site administrator full control over the site in the simplest way possible.
  • To incorporate some sort of events calendar into the site that would gather all invidual business events.

We started with a basic design which was heavily edited to fit with the feel of the site. I then started work on coding the back-end into classes (object orientated) to make upgrading and modifying the site a lot more modular.

Payment System

The site is integrated with the PayPal IPN payment processing which will, after a business has gone through checkout, notify the site and will automatically activate their account. In addition to this it also has an automated billing program that will periodically check to ensure that all businesses are up to date on their payments. If not it will send the business an invoice with three days grace period. After that their account will be suspended until they activate their account. Of course this can always be overridden in the site admin panel.

Business Page & Coupons

An important aspect of the site was enabling businesses to have their own “online presence”, this was achieved by giving each business their own profile page in addition to their various offers appearing site-wide. On this page businesses can display all of their locations alongside Google Maps, uploaded media, events and other exciting items.

Having a list of offers on the website may not be much use to a lot of people, City Coupons enables users to print and send the offer to their cell phone. The printing system used is major improvement over the type used on similar coupon websites. It enables you to specify the quantity of the coupon you wish to print and even place different coupons on the same page if you bookmark them. The SMS service has no operating costs and uses data processing techniques specific to each major carrier in the US.

Administering the Site

In the Vendor Admin Panel (for businesses) you are able to easily modify any aspect of your profile through the various tabs on the page conveniently titled, Offers, Locations, Events, Media, Profile etc. Likewise the Site Admin Panel is arranged similarly but with a wide range of options from full user management to bulk newsletter services and footer modifications.

To make the system even more interactive; it is integrated with the WordPress blog system to provide the blogging and article aspects of the site. WordPress is one of the best systems in the world for this and it would be senseless to reinvent the wheel. It however does include several City Coupons themes and plugins for full integration with the member system and site design.

The default site design is easily customizable and is available in a variety of colours, some different colours used by current owners of the system are shown in the thumbnails below.

Conclusion

Overall the City Coupons project was great fun and as always I developed my programming skills. My knowledge of WordPress has been greatly improved, my coding standards have risen significantly and I now know how to generate PDF’s from pure PHP! The client had a firm vision of what the site should be like and it certainly helped me to create exactly what he envisioned.

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