Automatically showing upcoming meetings on Business Networking website - Automation Thingies

Automatically showing upcoming meetings on Business Networking website

A simple automation that will automatically show the next networking meeting dates on the Romsey Business Group website.

Overview

This is an automation created for the Romsey Business Group website. RMBG is a relaxed and local breakfast networking group for business owners (you can also read about the profile form automation here).

This tiny automation reduces the admin work needed to add upcoming networking events to the website every month. Simply adding the dates once per year is sufficient for the automation to keep the website updated with the next upcoming breakfasts.

 

What was it like before (the automation)?

Each month, someone would need to log into the website, and update the homepage to change the countdown timer to the next meeting. Once a meeting had happened, someone would need to remember to log in to update the timer to refer to the next meeting. If it was left (by accident), it was a little embarrassing if the date was left on an old event, as the timer would be stuck showing zeros, such as below.

Old RMBG Block showing old meeting event details

Additionally, there are meeting dates in the footer, and they would need updating every month too, adding new upcoming dates whilst removing older ones.

RMBG - Showing upcoming meetings in footer

The footer area is fairly simple, but the core website is built on Divi. Divi can be fiddly and time-consuming to edit, and is certainly fiddly for anyone who’s non-technical. Therefore updating the countdown timer takes longer than it needs to.

 

How does it work now?

1) Admins add upcoming dates

Using a simple website setting, the admin adds dates for the upcoming year (and beyond if needed). These dates do not need to be perfectly in order, nor do old dates need removing. (Although an admin may choose to remove old dates in the future as a matter of housekeeping).

Adding events to website setting

 

2) The Automation Thingies team added code in the right places

Adding custom code to the homepage and the footer, the admin can leave these sections alone. There’s no need to edit or touch them to change the latest dates.

Updating Divi to show next upcoming meeting

 

3) The automation code takes over

The dates from the settings are checked and cleaned up. Old dates are discarded. Upcoming events are then sorted so that the next dates can be shown correctly.

The very next event is plucked out for the homepage, and the next 5 upcoming dates are shown in the website footer. We took the opportunity to clarify the meeting dates to include the day of the week too, to reinforce that it’s a Thursday meeting.

Showing the next new event

New Upcoming Events

 

Why didn’t we use an events WordPress plugin?

That’s an easy one. WordPress plugins that add events capability are very full-featured, which means they’re often complex and bulky. This little automation is just about showing dates for a single event.

That means having the feature for tickets, bookings, map locations and the need to add new events simply isn’t needed.

This code has been added to the core WordPress theme, which means the code is quick and lightweight. Having no noticeable effect on the website speed. (But adding a WordPress plugin for events is likely to slow the website down every-so-slightly).

 

A quick summary of the automation

  • A new website setting has been added to add all upcoming events
  • The Automation Thingies team added code to the homepage and footer to show event information
  • Code will show the next meeting (on homepage), as well as list the next 5 networking meetings (in footer) fully automatically
  • If the dates have been added out of order, the code will automatically sort them.
  • Any expired dates will automatically be hidden from view