With my own personal website toddling along quite nicely, we’ve been looking recently at the Mountain Rescue team’s website (www.cbmrt.org.uk). It’s been several years now since we rolled out that website – technology’s moved on a bit, someone released the next version of the web (avoid 2.1, it’s very buggy) and to be honest, although that site was a huge step for us, it’s not only looking a bit dated but we’ve also outgrown it. It’s not the only bit of technology that we’re looking at changing in the team, but more on that later.

Taking everything back to first principles, we got a bunch of people together and tried to work out what we actually want from a website. It rapidly became very clear that the website was key to how we communicated not only with team members, but with external organisations. With that in mind, we decided that a complete redesign of the site was in order, with different sections of the website for different people – members, other 999 services, the press, the public, prospective members etc. That’s a whole lot of work and more importantly, is a layout that isn’t compatible with one person doing all the work. So we need a CMS of some sort.

Over the past few days I’ve been trawling through some CMS software. Specifically I’ve been looking at Open Source ones in order to provide flexibility and keep costs down. It has to be easy to use so that people can publish content. It has to be customisable and templates fairly simple to play with. I’ve looked at over 20 different CMSes and several names stick out as software that’s competent, well-written and easy to use while at the same time being flexble:

  • WordPress – technically not a CMS, it is nevertheless very popular and has an extremely simple interface. It isn’t however powerful enough for some of the things we want to do.
  • Joomla – this is currently one of my top runners. Very competent CMS from looking at it, it’s one of two going forward to the trial stage.
  • Mambo – Very close 3rd, it just lacks a few features compared to Joomla that I wanted.
  • TikiWiki CMS – This was recommended to me, but following reviews and comparisons, it’s probably bottom of the shortlist
  • Drupal – Currently the top runner. My once concern is its complexity, but if the complexity is limited to the admin side, that’s fine – I’ll be the admin so I don’t mind learning my way around.

I suppose I’m fairly lucky that in my last job I worked for a company that wrote a CMS so I’m familiar with certain concepts and principles relating to CMSes – personalisation, taxonomy, navigation, content types, etc. That will probably hold me in good stead as I set up Drupal and Joomla for trialling. Hopwefully a clear winner will emerge from the two, though at the moment, Drupal is almost a full head in front of Joomla after just reading the docs.

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4 Responses to “Pimp my website…?”

  1. Jon says:

    I suppose I’m fairly lucky that in my last job I worked for a company that wrote a CMS…

    Have you been drinking?

    • Aled says:

      Ah, yes I see your point. How’s this:

      “I suppose I’m fairly lucky that I was exposed to complex CMS concepts in my last job. It’s just a shame that experience came hand in hand with a certain cow orker.”

      I think that fits.

  2. Elaine says:

    How does one ork cows?