Upgrading to a Content Management System

The client was in a situation that many small businesses share: They were dependent on one "web guy" to make edits to the company's HTML website, but that guy was busy with other projects. Simple editorial updates to the site were taking too long, and they didn't have the budget to hire another web expert. Information was getting stale. Though they were proud of the site, managers found themselves paring down to basics rather than expanding the information that they made available to their clientele.

They were excited when I showed them how easy it is to use a Content Management System (CMS). Making changes to a web page is very much like using a word processor. Once the page looks the way you want it to, simply saving it will make it available to your next website visitor. The office manager really liked the idea that she could even log in securely from home to quickly make changes to any content page on the site.

I built a new site for them using the Drupal Content Management framework, and modeled the site structure and workflow to mimic the way that the business was already communicating with their clients. New pages or articles can be created at any time, and each article can be designated as belonging to one of several categories, such as news, events or youth activities. Once saved, the new article automatically appears in the correct section of the website. A checkbox is provided to have the article stay at the top of its section, and another checkbox will publish the article to the site's front page as well.

The company was primarily communicating event information to its clients through flyers posted on bulletin boards, so we continued that paradigm with a bulletin board area in each section of the site that presents visitors with links to any flyers that are related to that section. We then expanded on that idea by allowing the flyer itself to be created within the CMS, and then scheduled with starting and end dates and times - creating a full-featured, multi-section Event Calendar which can be viewed in calendar format by year, month, week or day, or as an Event List by month. There is a sidebar on the front page that displays upcoming events for the next two days. Not every scheduled event is displayed in the bulletin board area, but any event can be with the click of a checkbox.

A feature slideshow displaying attractions on the front page and the photo gallery showing pictures from previous events were expanded to make it easy for the Content Manager to add new photos and update descriptive text from within the CMS. They can also add as many new photo galleries as they wish.

The newsletter section was built to allow newsletters to be created from within the CMS, or to be uploaded from an external source. Both newsletters and events can be viewed in printer-friendly pages or downloaded in PDF format. Articles were upgraded to allow upload and management of files for download from within the article page, and uploaded videos are displayed in a robust media player.

Drupal's built-in free tagging and search features make it easy for site visitors to look up everything that has been published about, say, tennis or swimming.

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