CMS Made Simple... I hope
September 9, 2010 8:23 PM   Subscribe

Due to a fiasco involving a failed service provider, I have to put together a small (5-10 pages) website in the next 72 hours. Since the domain name is still under the contractor's control and resides on her server, I must use CMS Made Simple (which is fine, given the need to update the site regularly). Otherwise it's a completely blank slate... and so am I.

My experience with HTML is minimal, but I'm good with software and graphic design plus I already have the content. Can you please steer me to any sites you think might be useful, especially if they include good tutorials and templates I can modify with organization-specific banners and other graphics. It would be great if it included a blog module. And I need to enable visitors to download pdfs if possible and, ideally, to add events to a common calendar.

Simpler is better; in this case the biggest criteria is to get it done. What do I need to know? No hint is too basic for this n00b. Thanks, everyone!
posted by carmicha to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
 
Hm, what kind of computer are you using? If Mac, the simplest solution might be iWeb?
posted by brorfred at 8:39 PM on September 9, 2010


PC. The CMS Made Simple is the only way, unfortunately, because that's how the access is structured by the failed contractor.
posted by carmicha at 9:12 PM on September 9, 2010


Since the domain name is still under the contractor's control and resides on her server, I must use CMS Made Simple

. . .

CMS Made Simple is the only way, unfortunately, because that's how the access is structured by the failed contractor.

I don't think there's anyone here who knows what they're talking about who will disagree with the observation that the primary problem you face is that your website is being hosted by someone you have apparently fired.

Either wrest control of the website from the "failed contractor," or explain why the relationship with the failed contractor is nevertheless stable and ongoing and facilitates you developing another website under her conditions, including this CMS Made Simple stricture.
posted by gum at 9:56 PM on September 9, 2010


Just how much content do you have to input? Mark that up first (break down into paragraphs, headlines, etc. in HTML). After that, start messing about with the CSS. Look at CSS Zen Garden to see how the same content can be formatted in drastically different ways via formatting. If need be, just start googling and stealing (not that I advocate this; it's just that this seems like an emergency).
To be honest, it sounds like you're kinda in the weeds, but I do think you can probably knock out something passable in the time frame you have.
Best of luck.
posted by Gilbert at 11:19 PM on September 9, 2010


Oh, and this:
http://www.w3schools.com/html/
posted by Gilbert at 11:22 PM on September 9, 2010


Oh, man! Condolences.

> I don't think there's anyone here who knows what they're talking about who will disagree with the observation that the primary problem you face is that your website is being hosted by someone you have apparently fired.

Agreed!

Hire someone you like, and have the site properly moved. Right now it's under the control of someone not in your employ, which is, as I'm sure you're aware, a bad deal, because she can take it down or edit it at will.

Spend the next 72 hours getting a real host and regaining control over your site, then slap up a placeholder until it goes live. You said you already have the content, so build it where you intend to leave it rather than having to move it later and creating more work.

> Since the domain name is still under the contractor's control and resides on her server, I must use CMS Made Simple

That sentence doesn't parse. If the box your domain is hosted on is a web server, it'll be capable of running more than one CMS. (Not everything runs on every box, obvs, but in a decade of doing tech support I've never heard of a web server that can run only one CMS. That's just crazy talk.) You don't have to leave the site on her box but even if you do, you don't have to use whatever wacko CMS she likes.
posted by goblinbox at 12:11 AM on September 10, 2010


While getting control of your domain and hosting you can access is the ideal, I get that sometimes the world you land in on these sorts of things is not one you can bend to your will.

In that case, I would start with a CMS Made Simple theme where they LAYOUT will work for your project, maybe something like BizBuzz or TypeFolio. CMS Made Simple does not have a mature commercial marketplace like WordPress, so as far as I know, those themes are your only options - but that's OK, you only need one!

You then hoover in the content so you can see what you are working with, and spend the next 48 hours customising the theme through the fairly simple though precise process of swapping out graphics and doing basic colour replacement edits to the CSS.

So for example, the layout for BizBuzz is a standard, fairly useful wide-div over three columns but the colours are dire and probably not in line with the company colors anyway. So download it, open the /images folder, and replace the background, logo and nav bar elements with substitutes from a comp you've done with the same layout. In the CSS you make MINIMAL changes - probably link colors only - if CSS is not your thing. You detail the whole design this way, replacing all the images and a lot of the CSS colors.

This is an extemely efficient system that works great - in a clusterfrack crunch situation like this, sometimes you just have to roll with what's efficient and possible and will get the job done.

CMS Made Simple has modules you can add on to extend functionality. I have no idea if you have the access to install them, but there is one for a blog, and one for events. They should pick up the now-edited design for the theme and integrate easily and seamlessly if your CMS doesn't suck.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:33 AM on September 10, 2010


Since the domain name is still under the contractor's control and resides on her server, I must use CMS Made Simple

Right now the only control, access or ability I have to do anything to the site is via the CMS Made Simple Admin interface that the contractor uses. When you go to the domain name that's what pops up but there's literally nothing else. However, she gave me the user name and the password (after I bullied her about non-performance) so I can get in it. She's not yet fired because I have to wrestle control of the domain back, which means getting into the contract minutia, etc. There's no time for that yet.

If I thought I could do up the site in WordPress (which I used to create my blog), I would just to get something reasonable looking done. That comes back to the server issue, though, because I don't see a way to have the domain address point to it correctly without involving the contractor, who won't play. I could, however, go that route with domain.info or .net and then try to work it out later, which might be easier.

I've been assuming I would do something along the lines of what DarlingBri suggests, because it is, as DB noted, a clusterfrack crunch situation. Thanks for your help so far!
posted by carmicha at 4:07 AM on September 10, 2010


I should add that the contractor is hoping to salvage the relationship and so I have a small amount of leverage; nothing compared to controlling the domain name, though. The site is for a volunteer organization with low expectations, fortunately for me ;)
posted by carmicha at 4:12 AM on September 10, 2010


Note that if that is the only access you have, installing modules for events and blog may not be possible - with WP you can now install modules just from the admin panel, but that is not a feature of many other CMSs, most of which require manual installation of modules via FTP.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:29 AM on September 10, 2010


You may be able to get the site up elsewhere using wordpress or whatever else you prefer, and then get the CMS Made Simple site to redirect to there. This page suggests {redirect_url to="www.cmsmadesimple.org"} as the syntax for redirecting.
posted by reptile at 9:00 AM on September 10, 2010


For future readers... Reptile's post steered me towards a way to redirect traffic from the captive domain to one I control using CMS Made Simple. It turned out that the syntax was slightly different, but I figured it out and made a nice 20 page web site using WordPress instead. It took about 15 hours which included photo-shopping individual banners for every page. Mission accomplished!
posted by carmicha at 3:17 PM on October 13, 2010


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