Content Management Systems

Museums Wellington screenshot

Museums Wellington website - CMS integration and programming, building the skeleton site, CMS training, QA (SilverStripe CMS)

A Content Management System (CMS) enables you to update your website without having to know any HTML at all.

A CMS helps you to keep your website fresh and relevant and up-to-date. You can use it to add or remove pages, edit and update content, and link to images, videos and PDF downloads. We can build the CMS to enable you to do pretty much anything - whether that's allowing your visitors to register with your upcoming events; managing your members and giving access to parts of your website to members only; selling stuff online via credit card or PayPal; blogging or sharing news releases with your users - whatever you want your website to be able to do, we can make it happen for you via a CMS.

Hi Ali, Tom and Shelley! Rave reviews about the website - including "best museum site in NZ" ...we think it is fabulous.

Kim Young, Marketing Manager, Museums Wellington (Museums Wellington website, 2010 onwards)

We've worked on many different CMSs, including ASP or ASP.NET, Blogger, Dreamweaver templates, Drupal, ExpressionEngine, eZ Publish, Facebook, Grand Central, Lithium, Plone, Shado, Sharepoint, SilverStripe, Sitecore, Squiz/MySource Matrix, and WordPress, as well as quite a few bespoke systems. We integrate most of our WebWeaver websites into a CMS, although we also have some small non-CMS sites, where we do the updates by hand for our clients.

Ali & Tom - I was having such fun working on the website - you guys have been awesome to work with and the extra effort and passion has not gone un-noticed - we are raving fans of WebWeaver.

Gaye Forster, Finance and Administration Manager, New Zealand Artificial Limb Service (NZALS website, 2012 onwards)

Our CMS of choice for our larger, bespoke websites, is SilverStripe. For our smaller sites we tend to use WordPress.

Benefits of a CMS

  • Many tasks are totally automated within a CMS. For example, in a CMS, if you add, remove or rename a page, or move it somewhere else in the site tree, all the navigation and sub-navigation automatically updates sitewide.
  • Some page types can be set up to build themselves automatically. For example, we include a summary field in most of our CMS templates. If a group of pages are placed within the site tree as children of a section homepage template, that section homepage creates itself automatically by collecting and combining all the summaries for its child pages.
  • Ditto with the homepage - no HTML or formatting required - we simply program it to collect and display elements from various sub-pages or specific fields within the CMS - and then it builds itself. Readmore links are also added automatically, together with hidden accessible link info for screenreaders.
  • We can also set up other automatically-created template types, such as "people pages" - example here - http://nzals.govt.nz/about-us/the-board and "resource pages" - example here - http://nzals.govt.nz/resources/annual-reports . Again, these page types build themselves from individual person or resource entries added to the CMS. We can also automatically generate thumbnail images from PDFs and automatically add information such as filesize, read online and download links. Another example could be a history timeline page. Your editors would create individual date entries containing, text, images and whatever else they wanted to include, and the history timeline parent template would put it all together for you. We can create an infinite variety of automatically-built page templates for you.
  • CMSs can be set to compile other elements automatically as well. Perhaps you'd like a sidebar on some templates where you could add related links or featured blocks of info, or calls to action, or links to pages on other websites. Instead of coding this by hand on individual pages, in a CMS these various elements can each be created once, stored in the CMS and then re-used wherever they're needed.
  • CMSs are great at helping you to maintain consistency of style and page structure throughout your site. They can also be very flexible and allow for editor-controlled formatting when required. SilverStripe includes both a WYSIWYG and an HTML view of page content editing fields, which enables editors to edit - whether or not they have HTML skills. If you can write HTML, you'll be able to format and adapt templates as much as or even more than you would with, say, Dreamweaver templates, and if in the future you have staff whose HTML isn't so great, you can trust that the CMS WYSIWYG view will keep them in line and won't let them mess anything up!
  • CMSs are very good at linking up with databases and displaying information from those databases in an infinite number of ways on your web pages. We are able to include a wide range of additional database-driven functionality on CMS-based websites, including the management of memberships, events, training courses and e-commerce.
  • A CMS like SilverStripe comes with its own internal search engine, built in. Visitors will be able to reliably search your website and get high-quality, useful results - and because it's part of the CMS, you don't have to remember to re-run the search backend every time you update the site.
  • CMSs can be set up to allow a workflow process - where some people are given Editor rights and can write new content and save it to draft - but this content must then be checked and signed off by Publishers who have publishing rights as well. In this way you could obtain content from a wider range of contributors while retaining editorial control.
  • CMSs include a built-in history rollback feature. The entire writing and editing history of every page is saved within the CMS, so that if you ever want to refer back to - or roll back to - a previous version of that page - you can.
  • CMSs also include a draft/preview mode so that you can view and review all your pages within the browser before you publish them. With a CMS you can also set pages to self-publish at any time/date in the future, for example for time-sensitive pages that you might want to write in advance and then set to self-publish later.
  • CMSs can be set up to automatically create and save a range of differently-sized thumbnail versions of larger images, which can be set to automatically display wherever they are needed (eg using an automatically generated thumbnail of an illustrative section image on the homepage, for example). We can set up your CMS so that you can re-size, crop, create thumbnails, change image dimensions and ratios - or whatever else you'd like to do with your images - without you having to do this work yourself in image-editing software such as Photoshop.
  • CMSs can be set up to automatically assign categories, or tags, or keywords to pages or elements within pages. These can then be used to sort pages, or to compile lists of things belonging to the same set - for example you could use it to sort or display different product types or services, with different subsets such as case studies or testimonials within those categories.
  • CMSs can be used to add a whole range of user-interactive tasks to your website using forms - including feedback, online registration (which could also be linked up with a database of participants), information requests etc.

Why we recommend the SilverStripe CMS

  • It's an open-source CMS, which means that it's free. Proprietary CMSs can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to purchase and use.
  • As an open-source CMS, SilverStripe has many thousands of users around the world. This means that any bugs in the system are spotted by users very rapidly and are also fixed very rapidly - either by users who then share the fix with the rest of the SilverStripe community, or by the SilverStripe team themselves. There is also a ready-made pool of testers, all of whom know and use the product on a daily basis.
  • The product is constantly being developed and improved, with new elements added in response to users' requests. These new elements and upgraded functionality within SilverStripe are shared with everyone who uses the CMS.
  • The SilverStripe online community is large and very helpful. Back-end developers and web editors can get just about any question answered quickly within the SilverStripe help forums, either by other users or by members of the dev team who monitor the forums.
  • SilverStripe is a Kiwi product, with its main offices in Wellington. We know the guys who developed SilverStripe quite well, and can go directly to them for answers or solutions if we have any questions or special requests.
  • SilverStripe is written in PHP, which is a common programming language. There are many PHP developers out there, which means that any future developments or upgrades to the structure and/or functionality of the site could be handled by any one of many developers. You wouldn't be tied to WebWeaver for future work on the site if you didn't want to be.
  • SilverStripe has been developed to be as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. We find that between two and four training sessions of three hours each is ample time to provide our clients with all the skills and info they need to use the product. Unlike CMSs such as Drupal (which in our opinion is a true developer's CMS - it makes perfect sense to developers, and pretty much no sense at all to anyone else), SilverStripe is easy for even the most un-web-savvy user to use. It includes a site tree that allows users to clearly visualise the site's structure, making the addition of new pages and the editing of existing ones a breeze.
  • SilverStripe is very economical in its handling of the code required to integrate templates. If I look at one of my HTML templates after it's been integrated into SilverStripe, I can very easily identify my code, because it's not drowning in a sea of developer code - it's still pretty much intact. This means that any future upgrades and alterations to existing page templates is a relatively painless and straightforward process for both the front-end developer and the backend programmer - unlike some other CMSs such as Drupal which produce masses of bloated code during integration.
  • SilverStripe allows the integration of absolutely any design into the CMS. There is no design that can't be integrated successfully into SilverStripe. There are many CMSs that do not allow this level of flexibility - Plone, for example, is infamous for its extreme inflexibility in terms of the layout and structure of template designs; and WordPress themed sites are equally tricky to re-design.
  • SilverStripe requires no understanding of HTML in order to use it in WYSIWYG mode, but for those editors that do know some HTML, the system has an HTML mode that allows much more detailed styling and editing of pages as required.
  • SilverStripe allows a wide range of editor-controlled elements to be incorporated into the website by the web developer - so that elements such as thumbnail and text layouts, forms and Google maps, and complex pages such as the homepage can easily be updated and edited without the need for the editor to write HTML or CSS by hand. Many dynamic features such as the automatic creation and updating of the site map page and automatic compiling of section homepages from child page summaries can also be programmed into the CMS. This cuts down on the work your editors need to do, while at the same time improving the usability of the website for your visitors, and is a major benefit of SilverStripe over software programs such as Dreamweaver and Contribute.
  • We've worked with a very wide range of CMSs - as contractors with large web design companies we often don't get much of a say in which CMS is selected - and so we've learned a great deal about the ins and outs of many different CMSs. We recommend SilverStripe because in our experience - it's the best.
  • The Government appears to agree with us, as SilverStripe has been selected as the provider for the new "All of Government" Common Web Platform (CWP). In 2014 I spent 6 months working with the Department of Internal Affairs on the design and build of the new Govt.nz website using one of the first instances of the CWP. The site was launched at the end of July 2014 following a year online as a beta site, during which time our design, development and writing process was open for all to see.