If you’re a JAMS Journalism student, you’re probably familiar with the front-end of Media Milwaukee. Even though it sounds like technical jargon, “The front-end” is just a simple way of saying, “The way a website looks and behaves in a browser.”
Right now, the front-end of Media Milwaukee does everything it’s supposed to do (and it doesn’t look half bad doing it.) It also does a pretty decent job housing the award-winning work of JAMS students. So the front-end doesn’t really need any modification.
The back-end of Media Milwaukee, however, needs a complete overhaul.
To access the back-end of Media Milwaukee, site administrators use the CommonSpot Content Management System. These days, using a Content Management System (“CMS”) to do back-end website maintenance is pretty common.
If a website has a CMS, administrators don’t need to get knee-deep in HTML to make changes to the content of the site. In most cases, a CMS has some sort of login screen, a navigation panel, textbox and image areas, and some type of “Publish” or “Update” button. With the right CMS, updating a website is a lot like adding a Post to Facebook.
Over the last few of years, Media Milwaukee site administrators have dealt with some irritating issues while using the CommonSpot CMS.
In order to add one (yes, one) article to Media Milwaukee, site administrators need to click through a series of odd dialog boxes while performing counterintuitive tasks. Because adding one page to the CommonSpot CMS involves roughly 10 separate actions, ease of use is not one of its strong suits.
Worse still, CommonSpot blocks embedded Flash objects. As a result, no Soundslides project appears alongside its corresponding article (we actually have to link out to a standalone page hosted on PantherFile.)
Making simple changes to the layout of Media Milwaukee has proven difficult as well. Looking at the right side of the site, I can’t help but wonder: Why can’t that area just be a Widget sidebar?
Given the headaches we’ve endured using the CommonSpot CMS, I’m happy to report that we’ll be ditching it to run WordPress on the back-end of Media Milwaukee.
Although it’s often thought of as a blogging platform, the popularity of using WordPress as a CMS seems to be growing at an impressive rate. Locally based sites like Urban Milwaukee and Third Coast Digest use WordPress as a CMS as do large scale sites like Smashing Magazine, BBC America and MSNBC (and that’s just naming a few out of millions). UW-Milwaukee may be adopting WordPress in the near future. And, of course, this site is proudly powered by WordPress.
With WordPress running on the back-end of Media Milwaukee, we’ll have a streamlined and modern approach to getting JAMS student work online.