Embedding a forum into a website
I am a php developer who is relatively new to Vanilla Forums. I have a client with two members-only fee-based forums (their members must pay an annual fee, and most categories are hidden from non-members). The themes were developed by my predecessors (two different people). I have made just a few minor changes (in other words, I do not yet have the experience of building or fully modifying a theme under my belt).
Currently, although one of the themes uses the Embed-Vanilla plug-in, the forum = the website. My client is using a few categories that are available to the general public for ‘advertising’ type content and using Vanilla’s apply for membership process.
My client would like to add some checkboxes and fields that are relevant to their forums to the sign-up process for their industry (input for various license #s, etc.). They would still need to approve members manually, but they might also want to accept payments via PayPal. And they would like to expand the look and feel of their advertising content without it cluttering up the forum itself.
It seems to me that my best solution is to build a ‘wrapper’ website around the forum and use the Embed-Vanilla plug-in. I could build a customized membership application that asks for all of the important information (manual approval would still be required, so no need for me to create Vanilla members programmatically), keep whatever advertising content the client wants separate from the forum itself, and implement payment through PayPal when the client is ready to do that.
So with that background info, I have a few questions for the Vanilla Veterans out there.
Is there anything flawed in my plan to build a ‘wrapper’ site and embed the forum inside it? Any ‘gotchas’ I’m not aware of but ought to consider?
Should I rebuild the existing themes using the embed-friendly theme as a base? Or, are there properties of the embed-friendly theme that I should make sure are present in the existing themes?
I have not decided yet, but it may make the most sense to use WordPress to build the ‘wrapper’ site (to allow the client a friendlier way to create their own advertising content). I admit I haven’t searched very extensively yet, just enough to know that it’s possible (including shared sign-ins, although I don’t know if that would be needed), but is the WordPress/Vanilla combination well-documented somewhere, and I assume I need a plug-in for one or the other to make that work. Any tips?
Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide to help give me a jump start. I’m asking these questions before proposing the solution to my client, so alternative ideas are also very welcome.