Open Source CMS and Content Reuse

Introduction

It cannot be denied that our current website is merely a “brochure” that does not effectively generate revenue and promote our brand. Sitecore states that “a good web CMS can mean the difference between a static underachieving website and a dynamic and flexible one that adapts to visitor needs, converts prospects into customers, and strengthens the brand.” (Sitecore 2011) Today’s buzz word in the content management arena is “reuse.” We must reuse content to save time and money. Also, we must repurpose what already exists to become more efficient and to re-publish that across multiple channels to ensure message consistency and effectiveness. According to Robert Bredlau, there are five key factors to think about when implementing content reuse (Bredlau August 6, 2009):

  1. Single source publishing to multiple formats.
  2. Publishing to multiple locations.
  3. Linking to the same content from multiple locations.
  4. Reusing templates.
  5. Partial content reuse.

The company neither has the budget or staff available to overhaul the current CMS, so we have elected to choose to develop our new website using an open-source CMS solution that will allow the import and reuse of content from our current CMS platform. As of December 2010, the three market-leading open-source CMS solutions were WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal. (“2010 Open Source CMS Market Share Report” December 10, 2010) Each of these systems has inherent strengths and weaknesses, and are best-suited for certain types of web projects.

One of the most important features to consider when choosing a Content Management System (CMS) for our website is its ability to handle reusable text content. We are expanding and modernizing our e-commerce capabilities, and therefore product information, help documentation, FAQs, and other content must be streamlined and kept consistent across our product divisions.

Drupal

Drupal is a powerful, developer-friendly CMS tool that can build complex sites, and is the most configurable of the three popular options. Research suggests that content reuse is both possible and fully configurable; unfortunately, the descriptions of how to apply this to our website are full of jargon and scripting parameters that require an experienced web developer on staff to implement and maintain. Most important for our uses is Linodef, which is “an input filter for embedding content of your Drupal installation and into any textarea and link[ing] to it.” (Danton November 1, 2008)

Joomla!

Joomla! occupies the middle ground. It has more extensive capabilities than WordPress, and it is more user-friendly than Drupal. Natively, content reuse is much like Drupal’s; difficult to implement, and requiring the programming of complex scripting and conversion of all text to XML prior to importation. However, a free plugin called Content Templater is well-reviewed and appears to provide a user-friendly means of sharing product information and other reusable data in different parts of our site. However, Content Templater is not compatible with the current version of Joomla! This is worrying, as it is important to keep the CMS up-to-date in order to ensure stability and security.

WordPress

WordPress began as a blogging platform and is the most user-friendly of the three market leaders. It is the most straightforward to implement, and is the best choice if our website will “fit within its model of posts, pages, categories, tags, and sidebar widgets.” (Hodgdon 2010) WordPress effectively applies auto-formatting to imported text from Microsoft Word, making it easier to transfer documents created by our employees onto the new site. As well, the WordPress Reusables plugin makes it “possible to update a single piece of content that will update retroactively anywhere that the reusable is being used.” (“Wordpress Reusables” September 27, 2010) However, WordPress is only suitable for smaller websites, and as we expand our product line the limitations of this CMS might become more apparent, necessitating migration to a more robust platform.

Conclusion

It is the opinion of this committee that WordPress is our best CMS option at present, both for its ease-of-use and its well-supported, straightforward implementation of content reuse. We can implement consistent product descriptions and knowledge bases across the business, consumer, and educational divisions using the WordPress Reusables plugin, and quickly import this data from our internal CMS that largely stores text as MSWord .doc files. Drupal is clearly the most scalable option, and its content reuse capabilities are extensive, but we do not have a PHP or Drupal expert on staff, and we lack the budget to hire one in the immediate future. It is the opinion of this committee that creating an effective, easy-to-manage website now will pay dividends in the future, allowing our company to hire an independent web developer and implement a more robust solution.

Works Cited

Bredlau, Robert. CMSWire, “5 Ways to Improve Content Re-use.” Last modified August 6, 2009. Accessed October 3, 2011. http://www.cmswire.com/cms/web-cms/5-ways-to-improve-content-reuse-005189.php.

Danton, Roi. Drupal, “Inline and link Drupal objects (Linodef).” Last modified November 1, 2008. Accessed October 3, 2011. http://drupal.org/project/linodef.

Hodgdon, Jennifer. Poplar ProductivityWare, “Drupal vs. WordPress.” Last modified 2010. Accessed October 3, 2011. http://poplarware.com/articles/drupal_vs_wordpress.

Sitecore. “Choosing the Best Web Content Management Solution.” Last modified 2011. Accessed October 3, 2011. http://www.sitecore.net/Landing/GoogleAdWords/Choosing_the_Best_CMS_CA_Confirmation.aspx.

Water and Stone. “2010 Open Source CMS Market Share Report.” Last modified December 10, 2010. Accessed October 3, 2011. http://www.waterandstone.com/book/2010-open-source-cms-market-share-report.

WordPress. “WordPress Reusables.” Last modified September 27, 2010. Accessed October 3, 2011. http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/reusables/.

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About paulkhillier

I am technical writer with a wealth of experience in education and design. Currently, I am furthering my advanced knowledge by studying Technical Communication at Seneca College in Toronto. Producing effective, readable documents is my passion, and I take pride in producing quality work.

Posted on October 19, 2011, in Technical Communication. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Complete standard page layouts can be easily achieved with Joomla. I find it better than wordpress in the aspect of designing and templates.

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