Newsroom CMS wish list

September 18, 2011 § 12 Comments

Old Typewriter

Because publishing with our current CMS sometimes feels like typewriting.

I am currently researching CMS vendors for our newspaper. Here I’ve compiled a wish list of features I would like our future CMS to have.

I’m hoping readers will add to this post via the comment section. And if my any item on my list of features needs more details or clarification, I hope that is brought to my attention too. I will update the post with suggestions, etc.

Our current CMS, which is unofficially called Depot, was built by a web developer at our sister newspaper in Yakima, WA. It is built on the Ruby on Rails open-source framework. We decided to go with them after using TownNews for about 10 years. At the time of our switch in late 2009, one of our biggest needs was a paywall. I won’t go into the decision behind the paywall but I will say that we have been able to grow our traffic despite it. I’ll leave a more in-depth analysis of our paywall including hurdles, successes and failures for a later post.

I recently sat in on a webinar with the folks at EllingtonCMS, which is based on the Django framework, and John Hill has volunteered to offer some feedback as he has had some experience with them (thanks John, going to shoot you an email on Monday.) And I will mostly likely ask for a presentation of TownNews’ Blox CMS.

In my following list I will indicate what features EllingtonCMS (E) has at least based on what I took away from the webinar they presented.

I’m hoping to use whatever comments or feedback this post generates to help me and our newspaper make an informed decision. If you’ve got any experience with any of the aforementioned CMS or frameworks, please, please share your thoughts. I also welcome any recommendation for other solutions like WordPress, Drupal and…..

In no particular order of importance:

  • mapping/geodata
  • tagging
  • robust commenting (threaded, voting, etc.) E
  • video platform E
  • blogging E
  • recommended reading lists E
  • most read/shared/emailed lists E
  • community – registration, avatars, badges, ratings E
  • story highlights
  • read later/favorite queue
  • liveblogging
  • social media API integration
  • flexible/modular templates E
  • data import/data visualization
  • email newsletters and SMS alerts E
  • mobile and tablet optimization E
  • integrated payment system for online/print subscriptions E
 Flickr image by Andrew Taylor.


Social media opportunities in local online business directories

February 11, 2009 § 3 Comments

Recently had a look at the Ellington CMS which is built on the open-source framework Django. A very slick CMS with many of the features that our news org is looking for. However it is a bit out of our price-range. Granted our price-range is pretty close to single digit. As in $0. Not really but you get the idea.

Also got a chance to see their business directory product called Marketplace. Again a very slick product. Looks to be very user friendly on the customer side and very easy on the business/vendor side. When a local business buys a listing they get a user-name and password that allows them to add as much or as little information about their business as they want. And they can update the information as often or as infrequent as they want. They can also upload photos/videos of their products or services. They can post coupons and information about ongoing sales. How about adding a customer service component?

It got me thinking about Twitter. Recently it doesn’t take much to get me to think about Twitter but this particular thought about how to integrate Twitter as social media/customer service platform into an online business directory. How about if Twitter or CoverIt Live was integrated into the business listing. Or how about a live video stream using Mogulus or Ustream. It would add a human face to the business. Maybe the business can set up a schedule when someone would be available to answer questions – “Customer service avalable Mon, Wed., Fri. 2-3 p.m. Sure individual business owners could set up their own Twitter/Mogulus accounts separate from their business directory listing. But many small businesses have a hard enough time updating an online directory listing or a website much less have the time or inclination to create yet another account on some web service they know very little about. This way it is already built in.

Would that be attractive to local businesses? Would it be added value to their basic listing? Perhaps someone is already doing this?

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