Evaluating CMS’s

I really liked the Kucsma, Reiss, and Sidman article regarding the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) and their choosing a digital library directory.  Below are several items they identified as important including my own additions.

  • Theme: customizable (and attractive)
  • Installation: ease, few staff needed, short timespan
  • Metadata: allow for user-created and industry-standard metadata to be created; be able to search metadata
  • Information Architecture:  easily changed based on new needs
  • Interoperability: able to work with different systems
  • Access Control: different levels of access (public vs. staff vs. administrators – those able to manipulate data); and different view of the interface based on access control

I personally don’t have much outside with other CMS software.  Last semester I worked with WordPress for the first time to help create an updated website for an organization with poor information architecture.  It ended being a (relatively) painless process.  There were some features I really liked: the ease of uploading information, creation of pages and categories, tagging features.  On the other hand WordPress does not have a well-developed mechanism for supporting library/archive specific collection building.  It appears that Omeka is a step in the right direction (although I’m sure that there will be a new technology coming out that is superior to Omeka.  Something I thought was interesting from the Witten and Bainbridge article was the quote, As the development of Greenstone matured, our research group became concerned that while its growing adoption in developing countries provided strong motivation and a great deal of personal satisfaction, it was beginning to stymie innovation within the software. There is a disincentive to introduce new research-led concepts into a maturing code base because they are less reliable, difficult to test on multiple platforms, and often entail substantial upheavals of the code.”  I believe that it’s true: once a technology (CMS) has widespread implementation, it is difficult to do an overhaul to create a better product.  I wonder if this means there will be a whole new wave of open source content management sites in the future that will replace the Greenstone, WordPress, and Omeka sites?

 

Also, as a sidenote: This week’s readings on evaluating, selecting, and implementing a suitable content management system were very interesting.  Right now where I work there is an increasing focus on saving our digital resources in a way that staff and members of the foundation boards would be able to easily find and access.  I’m excited to do more exploring with Omeka for the first assignment since it appears like this will be a viable option for us (at my work)!   

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3 responses to “Evaluating CMS’s

  1. That comment about Greenstone resonated with me, too. I have worked with six content management systems; at my last employer, we went through three of them in eight years. Every time, the CMS we adopted seemed revolutionary, and every time, cracks and limitations started to show almost immediately (and the final time was with Drupal, which is open-source and largely great, but also has some serious drawbacks).

    What I learned in that experience is that there’s no such thing as the perfect content management system. There is always something new coming down the pike that is going to make something in the code obsolete or creaky, and the innovation required to fix it is going to create some difficulty for those who operate the backend. But it’s better than the alternative (anarchy & FTP) for sure.

  2. I can imagine Stevie’s frustration. Most free open-source software “products” have similar problems. Our discussion leaders also liked us to discuss our concern over open source CMS. Eight years ago, I donated two projects to the open source communities. Right I still can receive requests from users for adding or modifying features; however, I really do not have time or resource. Similar limitations also apply to larger collaborative open sources, unless they become so widely popular that they reach some quasi-commercial status.

  3. I also have a previous life as working as a “knowledge manager” in a corporate environment. For that job, I evaluated numerous CMS platforms and ultimately went with Drupal for reasons that will be familiar to you based on the readings: power and customizability of the platform, large install base and user community able and willing to help. But with great power came a great deal of challenges, and much of my work time was consecrated to wrangling with the platform rather than populating it with information! This is the place where balance ultimately must be struck to make the investment in people-hours and resources pay off!

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