mainlogo
Systematic
Marketing

Working with CMS: Content Management System

In today’s web world any kind of design, which is going to be continually updated with content, needs a CMS. This database stores your site content and allows the site admin to work with an interface which means you can then add, modify and remove content at your will.

Although a CMS can be designed and programmed specifically for a site it is necessary for you to first consider the type of CMS you are looking to work with. Free website platforms such and Drupal, Joomla and WordPress are available. Although a cheaper option maybe attractive you must match the best CMS available according your requirements – just because it looks cheaper in the short run doesn’t mean it will be over time.

The Relationship Between CMS and Design Brief

A problem we often come across when designing and working with clients is the relationship between the CMS and your design brief. I have begun to think why you shouldn’t specify your CMS as part of your design brief. With some potential clients we can sometimes find the first problem we come across is that the amalgamation of the brief for the technical side (content management system [CMS] and the customer relationship management [CRM]) with the design itself. To solve this problem you should assess these as two separate items and each should be approached separately.

A good CMS will support just about any design that it is thrown into the mix and any designer should conversely also be able to work with most CMS. In regards to implementation, we would always carry out all of the associated work anyway and it should be our main job to make sure the CMS templates correctly implement the design.

Of course it is also possible that over time we can see multiple designers working on a project, even on different parts of a sites design. So by having the technical infrastructure independent to the design company itself can give you much more flexibility. If you are attempting a much larger revamp of the site, why switch your CMS?

Keep the CMS at the Top of the Design Process

We should always put the CMS at the top of the design process; it is imperative that this is done first, before any of the design work. Lay the groundwork of the project with your CMS from this the rest of the design should flow. This is so that the CMS forms the foundation of any website allowing the website process to be much more productive.

Birmingham Royal Ballet have an exciting project on at the moment. Later this year you will have a chance to see David Bintley’s new production of Cinderella at the Birmingham Hippodrome. This promises to be an exciting new interpretaion of Prokofiev’s ballet with John Macfarlane’s designs providing a very dramatic backdrop.

One of the things I love about this new production is that you can follow the developments on the Creating Cinderella blog. Everything from the creation of prosthetic heads to the thinking behind the designs. What is revealing is David Bintley’s video diary so you can follow the development from his first intentions back at the start of 2010.

Video footage of the rehearsals and choreography make this a remarkable record of a highly creative process. So take a look at the blog and go and see the show. It’s on between November 24th and December 12th, so click here to book now.

Social media is finding it’s feet. As I have mentioned in previous blogs it takes a long time, years, for something to establish its own identity and not just be a fancier (and maybe more useful) copy of something that has gone before. Social media is perhaps the start of the web moving into it’s own personality.

The growth of social media has been as unexpected as it has been fast. Each day the scope changes as more and  more people move the platform into areas others haven’t even considered.

From a marketeer’s point view this is both exciting and frightening – more opportunities, but a very different way of approaching the concept of marketing.

From the consumers’ perspective (or those on line at least) all this interactivity has become a new adjunct to, if not a new way, of life. It is now so much easier to keep in contact with friends and family, share news, photos and film. To keep up to date with what is going on in areas of interest – as it happens, no longer waiting for the newsletter or even email newsletter – is that a change or what? The email newsletter was a step forward but it is already looking antiquated.

And all this for free? Surely not.

A new, free, exhibition opens on April 30th at The British Library called Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art, running until September 19th, it brings together some of the most impressive wall maps ever created – some of which have never been exhibited before.

Why are maps so fascinating? I just find myself being able to look at them for ages. Maps are about far more that geography.
Remember looking at maps in old school atlases and being amazed at the vast areas coloured the pink of the British Empire/Commonwealth? or is that me just giving my age away?
Or looking at very old maps and being struck at how much or little of the World they knew, or just how accurate it was, even though created without satellites? Or now, with satellites, the view we get in Google Earth, is just mind-blowing.
But maps can show us much more than where places are or who thinks they own them. The method of projection (needed because the Earth is a globe and maps are flat) and viewpoint can raise or lower the apparent importance of a country; or be used to illustrate other things: how about an Upside Down Map – no longer is World Euro centric, and who said North was up anyway?
But what do other things look like? The Opte Project has attempted to map the Internet. Fascinating.
Have a look at Strange Maps for some unusual ones.

The British Library has unveiled an archive of UK websites (full story) to prevent a black hole. The project has been running since 2004 and aims to avoid “a digital black hole in UK web history”. One of the problems they face is copyright. They hope that Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 will be extended to authorise the Library to gather UK websites for the national heritage without requiring website owners’ permissions. Until then they can only archive a site once they have the owners permission.

The sites archived have to meet certain criteria but you can suggest a site if you like.

2004 is quite late to be looking at UK web history since development started to take off in 1995. Of course The Internet Archive aka The Way Back Machine goes back to about 1996.
I just had a look on there for some of the sites we set up back in 1995. They used to be on there from the start (wasn’t a huge amount to archive back then) with all their pages. UK Index is on there as at 1996, but only has one page indexed. A pity since that site used to host the very first National Trust website. Our earliest site Emoticon‘s earliest entry is now 2000,the earlier versions used to be there for all to see, but no longer.
Of course it is difficult to archive websites. They are continually changing (as an aside Sightsavers International have just unveiled their new design to celebrate their 60th Anniversary, take a look – very nice) especially with social interaction we see to day.
So, read about the British Library Web Collections and take a look (http://www.webarchive.org.uk/ukwa/) . As by next year they hope to have have archived just 6,000 of an estimated 8m sites, or 1% of the total if you want to ensure that your site (or its versions) is stored for posterity then it’s probably up to you to do it yourself.
Out of interest, which UK sites would you like to see archived?

Birmingham Royal Ballet published their planned productions for the Birmingham Hippodrome today and you can find the listing here.

What is great, for us, about this is that it shows some of the new features in Masque Repertoire (our content management system for the performing arts), allowing all the information about a production to appear on one page together with links to the booking pages on the theatres web site. Take a look at the Romeo and Juliet page to get the idea.
This is just the first phase in our redevelopment with lots more features being added. We have worked closely with BRB for several years to develop a system that is easy to use and quick to update when you have more information to impart.
From a technical point it has been a fascinating challenge to get the underlying database structure correct and then to build the web program to bring this all together into the web pages – depending on what’s coming up performance wise this might generate 1,500 pages or more – and is handling about 5,000 page views a day.

>
Birmingham Royal Ballet has one an award for Director David Bintley and his ballet E=mc² at ITV’s The South Bank Show Awards.

“Based on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, E=mc², choreographed by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Director David Bintley, enjoyed its world premiere at Birmingham Hippodrome in September 2009 as part of the triple bill Quantum Leaps and delighted audiences during the Company’s autumn 2009 tour.”

“E=mc² is set to a specially commissioned score by Australian composer Matthew Hindson with costumes by Kate Ford and lighting by Peter Mumford and was inspired by the book E=mc²: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation from author David Bodanis.”

read the full story here

If you get a chance to see this show – don’t miss it.

Segmentation is based on a principle: everyone is different; and a hope: but in certain aspects they are not that different – people can be grouped together based on some similarities and grouped in large enough bundles to make marketing cost effective. “Segmentation is a compromise between the homogenous mass and the single individual”1

Segmentation is at the heart of effective marketing. It is about understanding your customers. The goal has always been one-to-one marketing where each person is a segment and we talk to them as an individual. While technology has moved us in this direction, even printed material can now be customised based on the attributes of each recipient, it is still not cost effective to market on this basis wholesale and so breaking our audience down into manageable chunks makes sense.
Of course segmentation can be used in two ways: marketing more effectively to our existing customers and supporters – which involves profiling and analysing our existing customer database (“if you have one”, Katy Raines, p6 JAM issue 37 – if not contact me//shameless plug); or looking for new audiences – which really involves looking for a general profiling tool that can be used to identify those similar to existing audiences or represents the type of new audience you would like to attract.

The latest edition of JAM (Jan 2010) from the AMA looks at segmentation which was the subject of the very first JAM back in 2001. A long time between discussions and so a welcome addition to the JAM series. Interestingly we have contributions in both editions from Heather Maitland and Andrew McIntyre, so gives almost a history of the development in arts market segmentation over the last decade.
What is clearly illustrated is that although the marketing environment has changed dramatically, with the development of the Internet and computing power in particular, the concepts behind segmentation remain the same: as Maitland prefaced her original article “Marketing is a planned process that involves talking to the right people, about the right things, in the right way, and at the right time, to achieve your objectives”. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
1. Andrew McIntyre JAM March 2001

Interesting time over the weekend. The back button on my browser stopped working! You really don’t realise how much you use it until it’s not there and it really makes you appreciate good navigation on websites. How easy is it to get to what you are looking for? How simple to get back to the home page? Can you see where you are on the site?

This last one is becoming ever more important when the search box is just sitting there on the top right of your browser. A considerable number of your visitors will arrive on your site as the result of a Google, Bing or other search and you have little control over where they land. As such, every page becomes a home page. And, when your visitor can’t see what you are looking for it is as easy for them just to enter a new search or click the back button to the search results than trawl around your site.
One of the things that I did find frustrating was when I landed on a site which didn’t have crumblines (you know the series of links that show where you are on the site) that really made me miss the back button.

I always believed that navigation and site layout has always been a major feature for good website design and this experience has just strengthened my belief that navigation is the main feature on stick ability.
Actually, I might not even fix the back button.

I think of technology as anything that is developed to make our lives easier and more productive (although not necessarily better). However, not all technology developments are successful. Some fail to be adopted and vanish into the blue yonder, possibly even some good ones. Some get remembered as a quirky or amusing anecdote, most disappear without a trace.

Technology becomes successful when we no longer perceive it to be technology, in fact when we cease to see it at all. When we stop wondering about how it works; when we use it without worrying about whether it will or not; and just use it without really thinking about it – that’s when technology can be thought of as truly successful.

In the early years of any technology several things stop it moving into the realms of general usage and it is addressing these that moves it in the right direction:

  • Cost – new technology costs an arm and a leg;
  • Reliability – it usually breaks down and breaks down often;
  • Usability – it is new and no one really knows how to use it and if you do you really need to know the nuts and bolts;

Part of the usability problem is that the new technology often tries to emulate existing technology – the first motor cars really were horseless carriages; television was radio with pictures; the website was a brochure on a computer screen.

This is a two edged sword: emulating existing technologies is probably essential to give users a frame of reference without which it maybe very difficult to get the technology adopted. Replicating the interface to the technology may make it easier for new users to get the hang of it, but it stifles the potential of the technology.

Technologies take time to grow into themselves – it took many years for the car to move away from looking like a carriage; television took decades to develop dedicated formats; mobile phones have only recently started developing functionality that the connection method enabled; the web is only now starting to develop into its own persona.

A technology takes time to develop into a unique application – and only become successful when we don’t realise that they are there.