By the end of this week you should have:
- Investigated a CMS other than WordPress (aka: drupal, joomla, or another)
- Created a ‘test’ site to prove (or disprove) the effectiveness of the tools you’re testing.
- Generated a report – or infographic – that educates a potential client on the best tool for them to use for their project.
There are loads of content management systems (CMSs) available today. Some are great, others are decidedly less great. Many, however, could simply get a bad reputation because they are typically suited for different, more specific tasks or audiences, and might be used improperly. For example, one tool might be great for a single person who only needs to update a few pages once a month, but would not be robust enough for a company that had 20+ employees and thousands of customers. In short, you can’t always blame the tool or site for not working, because often it’s just not being used appropriately for the task at hand – which, ultimately, means the developer is to blame for making the wrong choice. So our job, as both consumers and producers of web materials, is to have a better understanding of the tools available to then be sure to pick the right one for the right task.
After you have chosen your CMS (see assignment below) it is highly likely that there will be a series of screencasts on lynda.com, or even just out on the web (e.g.: on YouTube, or AdobeTV). You may also look for screencasts first, and use that as a tool to help you decide which CMS you’d like to investigate. To be sure: one of the goals of this project is to encourage you to do research and find resources about products you might want to use on your own, and then choose the tool based on what you find. With that said, if you are not able to find adequate tutorials, please do let me know sooner than later together we can search, or perhaps decide on a different CMS for you to focus on.
Congratulations! After your über successful matching game, word has gotten out that you’re an awesome web developer and new projects are starting to come your way! One project in particular has caught your eye, but to officially get the contract they’ve asked for you to write up a short report on which development tools might make the most sense for their project and group. They’ve indicated that they’d like you to compare three tools:
- Coding HTML and CSS via a tool like Dreamweaver
- Using WordPress
- Using Drupal or something similar to Drupal (but please get my approval first!)
and give them you’re thoughts on which “is the best for them.”
So they would like you to create a few ‘simple’ examples that show them the potential of each, and write up a simple 1 - 2 page comparison of the tools afterward. They’ve even indicated that you can create an infographic instead, if you’d prefer, but stress that it will need to be very informative, submitted to them in a PDF format, and include links to the three example sites you’ve created during your exploration.
So, you’ll need to come up with a simple idea for a site. It should be something with just a few pages, that you can show as an example. Perhaps you have content you’ve used for other examples (e.g.: that smiley site media) or something else you’d like to use. Once you’ve picked the content you will need to create three versions of the site (or, to be sure, I hope you might be able to repurpose versions you already have) using the various tools they’ve specified: HTML/CSS via Dreamweaver, WordPress, and Drupal (or another approved option if we discuss one).
- Decide which alternate CMS you’d like to investigate. Again: Drupal is only a suggestion, if you have another CMS tool you’d like to investigate, please let me know and if I approve you can investigate that instead. And, to be sure, it’s highly likely that your hosting services control panel has a number of CMS options you can install and investigate, so I suggest you start there when looking for options to consider.
- Using a combination of screencasts, other text based content, and exploration (which is how I usually do it!) build a site similar to the other site(s) you (hopefully) already have built. As you do, please keep in mind that you will, ultimately, be writing a report about this tool.
- Create a text file that has a link to each of the three example sites – and, yes, each site should be label in such as way as to make it easy for me to know which is which - and zip it up and upload it to the “W06-01: The Proof of Concept Comparison Sites” item in the
Assignment Dropbox in Blackboard.
- Again: you should already have the first two sites available to you (i.e.: my goal is for you to focus on the new tool for week eight) but if you don’t they should be easy enough for your to recreate at this point, so please do. I want this to be as fair a comparison as possible!
- While you will be giving me the URL to view this site, it is, ultimately, just being built so you can assess the tools, so you don’t need to worry about it being “pretty” as long as it’s similar enough to your other sites, and represents a “put-together” web site. Which is to
say, your links should function, and your graphics and media should work as well, so even if it’s simple it’s a complete site and not something you’d be embarrassed to show as an example to me, or a potential employer.
- You do NOT need to have each site looking the same (i.e.: they don’t need to use the same template) but they should have the same site map, navigation options, and content!
- You only need to watch as many screencasts as are necessary to complete the proof of concept and clarify how the tool operates… so you can judge for yourself if that’s 1 hour or 4 hours. But, to be sure, I do not anticipate you will need to watch any more than 4 hours to get to a point where you can build a basic site with any of the CMS tools you’ll be allowed to investigate.
Now, this is the somewhat tricky part. You now need to take on the role of the client as well as the developer – in this case your client is someone who doesn’t know much about web development and coding – and try to use the tools you’ve built the site with. If it helps, imagine
your boss (did I just say that?) or someone you know might be less tech-savvy than you, but who still needs to be able to access and edit content. Then, you should decide on a set of criteria and report back on those. I encourage you to look up how other people compare CMS tools. And offer this sample (i.e.: not the exact set I would like you to use) set of criteria as well:
- How easy is it to understand the overall setup of the system? The “front-end” vs. the “back-end” tools; Is getting to a place where content can be edited easy?
- Can your client easily add content once they are in the editing area?
- Can your client easily add media, and/or other pages as necessary?
- Can your client easily integrate things like social media tools, or other things they might want to use to drive users to their site?
- How “future-proof” is this tool? (I.E., will your client only be able to run their site on this platform for the next 5 months, or can they hope for 5 or more years?)
- If your client wanted to change the look and feel, is that easy, or would that require them to higher a developer again?
- Are there special system requirements that would make it better or worse for your client?
Write a 1-2 page report, or create an infographic, which can be used to educate your “client” on which of the three options you think is best of them. To be sure, since your “client” will vary (based on what each of you imagine) there is no ‘right or wrong’ answer here. Instead it is only important that you decide for yourself which tool makes the most sense and back up your decision with solid evidence and explanations. Therefore I will be looking for thoughtful comparisons and meaningful explanations that are clear evidence of tool exploration and understanding. If this is not clear, please do ask me in advance of submitting your report or infographic. If you are not familiar with creating infographics, please review some information on them, and ask me any questions you may have BEFORE you decide to create one. I expect to be able to get a clear sense from either a written report or an infographic, so the infographic must be of high quality!