Good piece in Smashing Magazine by Lullabot’s Jeff Eaton on how to build a CMS that privileges structured content while also being useful to editors. (This is some of the same turf we covered with Karen McGrane back in January.) Among the highlights:
— Rather than building a manual layout engine, instead create cues for story priority and let the layout be determined by sorting rules.
When we started talking to the editorial team at a major news website, we learned that they wanted to control where articles appeared on the home page — and all of the website’s topical landing pages as well. When we dug deeper and presented simple prototypes, however, we discovered that they meant something different. What the editors really needed were ways to prioritize and organize content on the home page. On their old website, direct manipulation of each page’s layout was the only tool they had, and they were afraid to lose it.
— Use a mixture of in-article shortcodes and custom fields to balance out the requirement for exact asset placement vs. mere association.
— Don’t ruin your core templates to deal with a few oddball pages that don’t fit; let them live off to the side, taxonomically.
Some smart thinking in here. (Jeff Eaton is also host of the Insert Content Here content strategy podcast.)