WordCamp NYC 2009 – Harvard Gazette Transformation into An Online Newspaper
I am live blogging from WordCamp NYC, please excuse any typos or less polished text.
Speakers: Perry Hewitt and Lin Chen
In Harvard there are numbers of CMS in use including drupal, joomla, al fresco. The need was for something that could include multiple content types, structure content with categories and tagaing, regulate and control content using workflow and custom requirements like ability to cross between stories and quickly feature stories for homepage or features page.
Business side requirements:
Build an image rich, CMS which allows quick updating, articles can be printed and emailed, searchable, RSS for stories.
Building templates for multimedia pages, pulls Brightcove videos to reduce manual effort, adding sorting.
Adding complete publishing workflow and a dashboard that is easy to manage – see what’s on the homepage, how many stories on each category.
Initial objections included perception that it is just for blogging, that it is not secured and that there will be a lot of headaches around upgrading versions. These were mitigated by enforcing workflow, build it so the custom code is separate so it is easier to upgrade (not necessarily one click, but easy).
Key was in Plugins: Customized platform by created plugins.
Tips they learned along the way:
Use OOTB as much as possible, like publishing workflow, using categories for navigation, create few robust templates.
Choose Plugins rigorously: homepage feature, popular post and super cache (for performance)
One challenge of content migration: 14 years of archive content, not tagged, not categorized. Team had 3 months to implement. Solution was to take 2 years worth of stories, provide PDF format, use 50 stories with images for homepage.
To deal with old links, Chen mentions keeping direct access to old stories and focusing on wildcard redirect in .ahtaccess to the Homepage of new site. On key pages they set up 1-to-1 redirect.
Using ChartBeat to track granular stats that arent provided by Google Analytics.
Was interesting to hear Perry talk about the lessons learned, as some of them sound familiar from my own private world and experience, from different roles and environments I was lucky enough o be a part of. Below is directly taken from the slides:
– scope requirements tightly
– define content approval workflow early and in include all involved
– always start with a Style Guide in hand
– plan for documentation
– shoot for the stars but keep MVP in mind
– launch, learn, refine, re-launch: to refine and perfect product. can’t expect a perfect product from the initial launch.