Connect the dots: bridging silos of information

Notes from the livestream of WPCAMPUS 2019

Elaine Shannon | Session

Elaine is a web developer for St. Mary’s University who loves to look at the whole picture. She specializes in designing and building solutions that work well for both end users and the people who maintain the web.

Who in the audience is an introvert

  • Who is afraid of public speaking?
    • Encourage others to speak and share their knowledge

What we’re talking about today

Background, Examples, Tips


St Mary TX uses a WP site and focuses on prospective students other audiences such as Alumni and Students use all sorts of other services and sites to meet the needs of their communities.

Early on their website was PHP and eventually moved to WP, the functionality didn’t change much until they moved to a managed webhost.

Challenge: Silos

Faculty and Staff directories were disconnected. used JSON to export information from “Banner” system so it can be structured and parsed to another server.

How the directory works

Cron job checks for new information periodically every hour and refreshes the JSON feed to the live website.

Uses REST API to grab faculty blog posts.

Uses arrays to merge banner and faculty data that they want on the new website. They plan to strip out email addresses in the future to limit phishing attempts.

WordPress to WordPress integration

RSS integrations was used before REST API and could be customized to fetch information. RSS feeds didn’t offer the featured image so they parsed the first image in the page.

REST API offers more tools within the publishing process. Images, fallbacks, text and tweaks.

Silos of information can get ugly, the process will go through iteration. Analytics are helpful in researching change. Look for a high rate to prioritize change.

APIs helped build a logical calendar that users would be comfortable using.

Better markup SEO display events in a friendly list in Google results.

Parsing data helped organize it and pull up schedule information for visitors to the website.


  1. Focus on users, journeys and search terms to identify trouble spots.
  2. Don’t duplicate content… Seriously, don’t.
  3. Find keys to connect silos reliably.
  4. Look for APIs they tend to be well structured.
  5. Make friends, offer help, ask for help







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.