@media Session 4

Content Management Without the Killing

Drew McLellan

Tools should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. Don’t overcomplicate things! CMS required if you need to repurpose content (eg for RSS) and have a lot of aggregated content. Need to take control over editing process.  You don’t always need to use a CMS all the time – to all parts of the site. No. Use it for the bits that they need now.

What type of CMS?

  • Offline – eg Dreamweaver with Contribute. Can be very good for existing large static sites, which weren’t already built with a CMS. Won’t let you publish to schedules, multiple languages etc.
  • Online – web app which runs site. Content edited with web-based forms, content stored in databases. Custom-built to off-the-shelf.
  • Off the shelf – will generally let you build anything. Methods to manage pages; custom functionality can be added with plugins. eg Blog sites. But anything out of the ordinary – often falls over.
  • Bespoke – custom-built, designed specifically for running your site.

Everyone hates their CMS! And CMSs aren’t forever!

Common Features

  • /shiny/happy/urls
    Use readable, reliable and hackable URLs
    Readable – users should have a good idea of what a page is about from looking at the URLs. Search engines will index things better.
    Reliable – should be a URL forever (or as long as possible).
    Hackable – users can intuitively change a URL to get to other content.
  • Data feeds
    Can your CMS let you publish RSS etc.
  • Data stored in an open format
    CMS isn’t forever – but if you want to change it, can you get the content out if you need to – to port it to another system. Also the need to get the data in in the first place.
  • Customisable and accessible admin interface
    Works without Javascript; can be branded
  • Search
    Difficult to get right – does search return sensible things – are they relevent to the user
  • Multi-site support
    Can it administer more than one site? Perhaps reuse some content on another site.
  • Multi-language support
    Think about it now even if it might not seem like you need it right away. Should be OK if you’re using unicode.
  • Caching
    Does it cache the results or generate it each time? Performance issues might bite you on the ass later.
  • Web 2.0 features
    Are your users going to want to tag content? Use of microformats
  • Bi-Directional Content
    Trouble really starts when users can update the system too – need user accounts, possibly moderation, business rules for deletion of data. Can of worms! Also think about future features – eg for user forum later on.

Off The Shelf
cmsmatrix.org has data on 915 CMSs!
Start at the bottom – WordPress, Moveable Type, TextPattern, Chip etc.
Beware the pimped out blog software – don’t launch a new site with a weblog cms already creaking.
If you are going to customise things – avoid getting into an unsupportable configuration at all costs.

Medium scale
see photos – beware, don’t be tempted to overdo things – do you really need all these features?

Enterprise Level
Documentum, LiveLink, Joomla etc

Build your own!
[I have!]
Libraries, Django, rails, cake, symphony.
Goal – reuse core functions as much as possible.

Planning for the future
Know your plugins, be aware of licensing issues, plan for future but don’t buy now. know your limits, know your design constraints, speak with existing customers, don’t get charged per users, know your exit route!

Drew’s presentation: slides (slideshare) | audio (mp3)

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