Using blogs for content management

I’ve deployed blogging technology for a variety of web content management tasks. Blogging is really just a somewhat limited Content Management System (CMS). The major difference is that blogging only allows you to organize content in a linear chronological manner, while a full-fledged CMS is set up for elaborate hiearchical organization and navigation structures. Nevertheless, I’ve adapted blogs in some highly productive ways. For example:

gamalI set up this blog for a colleague on my PTA executive board. He is in the habit of forwarding on relevant items via email, and he was fairly regular at it. I set it up so that he could just email his news items to a special address, and they’d show up as posts. He asked about editing, so I gave him access and he took to it quite easily. He continues to maintain it. This is on blogspot and reflects fairly standard blogging.

 

 

occptaThe front page of the OCCPTA website is actually a blogspot blog. In the template, I stripped out most of the navigation and organizing elements, and set it to only display two news items at a time. It makes it very easy to rotate news items on the front page and keep it fresh. Old news items can be found in the archive links at the bottom.

 

 

trusteeI embedded a blogspot blog in the website of the Florida Unitarian District to manage the publishing and archival navigation to the trustee reports. It seems to be working fine.

 

 

marcusThen there’s the blog I set up for my father’s discussion group for residents and ex-pats of his hometown of Marcus Iowa. The emphasis here is on the reader comments, organized into monthly threads.

 

 

afgI first used a WordPress blog for publishing, organizing and archiving the proceedings of UCF’s Academic Focus Group, which responsibilities I took on last summer. Comments are NOT enabled; I don’t need to provide a forum for this contentious group.

 

 

efacultyWe’ve just begun using a modified WordPress theme to manage web publication of our eFaculty Newsletter, a virtual newsletter we started last year, and are reviving this summer. Again, comments are not planned to be enabled.

 

 

mollynewI’ve been helping our church’s youth choir director in posting rehearsal sound files on her website. Just recently I extracted the content from her wizard-built primitive site, reloaded the content into a blog, and replaced her site with this spiffy look. She loves it, and its easy for users to find things.

Flickr

OK, I dropped the nickel and got a paid Flickr account. I’ve been trying to keep my digital photo files organized on my hard drive, but its getting a little haphazard, and easy to lose track of them. After giving it some thought I realized how vastly superior it is to organize the files with tags instead of by a hiearchical file structure. Flickr enables the tag method, plus it facilitates sharing photos at varying resolution levels. altogether a far superior system.

So in the longer term, my family photo records are split between

  1. 1980’s through 2002 photo albums
  2. 1997 – 2002 photo CD’s
  3. 1997- 2006 hand crafted website
  4. 2001 – present hard drive storage
  5. 2005 Snapfish (requires registration)
  6. 2005 – present Flickr

New platform

YESS. I’ve migrated to a wordpress blog platform hosted on my family server. I’m still tweaking the layout and the style, and all my old photo references have lost their sizing restrictions, so some of the posts will have pictures that spill over. Eventually, when blogger realizes I’m not keeping the old blog active, the several dozen photos featured here that were — and are — hosted by blogger.com’s handy dandy photo upload function, will whither and die.

I’m still tweaking and seeking a good template, so look for some changes in appearance here.

2D is Better Than 3D

Usability expert Jakob Nielsen wrote 8 years ago about the uselessness of 3D effects in web design, and I think its still true today:

“Note that 3D works for games because the user does not want to accomplish any goals beyond being entertained. It would be trivial to design a better interface than DOOM if the goal was to kill the bad guys as quickly as possible: give me a 2D map of the area with icons for enemy troops and let me drop bombs on them by clicking the icons. Presto: game over in a few seconds and the good guys win every time. That’s the design you want if you are the Pentagon, but it makes for a boring game.”

2D is Better Than 3D (Alertbox Nov. 1998)