Website for the masses!
August 14, 2007 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Non-Profit Website: How to allow non-techies to edit!

Problem: I work for a small (150 ppl) non-profit as a netadmin and we want a webpage (zomg 2007 right?). My specific issue is I want a platform that will allow:

Adding content/deleting content/adding PDF's/adding images

Without requiring input from me. The bureaucracy of our organization means that this will make life MUCH easier for me. As a result I prototyped the site in Plone, which worked out great except Plone is a flaming turd of a product.

I really like Plone's in-template editing, drag and drop content ordering, staging (ie, bits can exist on the site ONLY when logged in). I need something that will run on Dreamhost (which is pretty much anything PHP/Perl/etc).

I have looked at: (ask://cms)

Expression Engine (I'd love to have their main site tempate)
TextPattern (Perfect Implementation)

This seems like a rather trivial adventure, except all of these products seem geared directly towards running a blog, with side static pages, as where Plone was a content manager with a blog addon.

Is CMS a synonym for Blogging these days? My users are fairly inept, and I do major styling (ie, they can handle textarea with buttons for formatting). I would love something where they can easily add sections. Let's use the Library site linked above as 'implentation' which uses features that aren't available to the public.

* Major sections, subsections shown on the right in content area
* Each major section has a 'landing page' that is styled differnetly
* User's can concievably add a new content area and it is automatically added to the navigation system.

One specific gripe with MT is that it seems to be all static pages, and I see a benefit to having dynamically built pages so I can add in php code later to do things on the fly (database lookups in page?).

I don't need any blogging functionality at all, which is the biggest stumbling block here. Everything I look at is primarily driven off this 'articles' idea, whereas I simply want 'pages'. I want to have a way to specify the display order in the navigation. All things Plone did, but I cant find something more lightweight (preferably in PHP) that can do the same.

I am on the edge of just writing my own custom app in PHP/Smarty, but it seems silly to do that when SOMETHING must automate this all for me. There are great examples of sites running off these platforms.
posted by sirliberal to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like Typo3 would be right down your alley. The only problem is Typo3 is huge - there are companies that specialize in consulting for it, and I don't imagine they do too bad. I'm not sure if its lighter weight or not than Plone.
posted by devilsbrigade at 8:09 AM on August 14, 2007

Response by poster: The biggest issue with Plone is the Zend engine it runs off. I would prefer something in PHP/Perl that can run on Dreamhost/a normal ISP. A large package like Typo3 isn't out of the question as long as it can meet the goals.
posted by sirliberal at 8:16 AM on August 14, 2007

I am using Drupal for my work's site and it's got a pretty clean interface that is easy to use. The only real problem I see is that text needs to go in unformatted and then re-formatted by hand, which is a real shit. Otherwise, it's easy to use. I think most ISPs have drupal servers these days. Here is my work's site if you want to have a look at Drupal in action. It's basic and it works.
posted by parmanparman at 8:22 AM on August 14, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks Devilsbrigade, I installed Typo3 and (crosses fingers) so far it seems amazing (though a tad slow for admin work on Dreamhost, thats fine for now.)

Please continue the suggestions though! Any sort of documented process for setting up such a site would rock too (ie,
posted by sirliberal at 8:38 AM on August 14, 2007


And parmanparman: Are you using TinyMCE? If so, see if you can enable the 'plain text paste' button
posted by unixrat at 8:41 AM on August 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

You could try building it on top of a wiki engine, like MediaWiki - see my comment on this older question.
posted by simonw at 8:44 AM on August 14, 2007

Response by poster: devilsbrigade:

Is there a way to make more sensical links in Typo3?

http://site/cms/index.php?id=3&type=1 << ucky.
posted by sirliberal at 8:52 AM on August 14, 2007

We use Joomla on Dreamhost for a few non-techie non-profits I work with. Dreamhost has a one click install and it's pretty painless to get up and running.

It takes a little bit of training, but it's been a good fit for us so far. To make it easier for the non-technical, we forbid the use of the static content manager, and we make all the categories a simple repeat of the section name. We also avoid using specialized modules whenever possible.
posted by advicepig at 9:01 AM on August 14, 2007

I've also used Drupal for a number of projects. It gives you a plain-text box for entering text, and I know there are a number of modules that let you fancy it up in various ways. You can also permit a restricted range of HTML tags (and you can vary the input modes available by user role, so if you've got some technically competent people, you can upgrade their roles).

CMS does not equal blog. A blog is more a special case of CMS, which covers a broader range.

MT is not necessarily static pages. In the early days it was, but now it supports dynamic page generation. One hitch with this is that to get that to work, all the plugins you're using need both PHP and Perl versions (or that was the case the last time I checked).

Even though it's blog-oriented, you could do all this in, say, Wordpress, which has a page hierarchy parallel to the blog hierarchy. I'm currently working on a little brochure website for my sister, and I'm doing it using a custom template and Wordpress.

In short, I think there are several ways to skin this cat. Drupal offers a lot of expandability, and if you know php, you can tweak it forever. It offers a lot of options inside the admin interface (though this can get overwhelming because of the way that different dimensions of freedom interact with each other—you can set up a new input filter, but then you need to make it available to different user roles, and different content types, etc). I always felt that it was hard to tweak at the template/code level.

Wordpress has fewer options inside the admin interface and has less flexibility in its engine. But it has a crazy number of plugins, and (IMO) is easier to tweak at the template/code level.

I'm just mentioning Wordpress and Drupal because they're what I know. I'm sure there are lots of other worthwhile options.
posted by adamrice at 9:14 AM on August 14, 2007

Seconding Drupal. It is very simple to start out with, and the default install will cover 100% of the things you outlined here, and probably most of your other concerns.

Let me know if you need any help doing anythign advanced with Drupal, I build Drupal sites for a living. It's quite a powerful system.
posted by bkudria at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2007

I'd say Textpattern. In my experience, it's easier to add things to Textpattern (the plugin api is dead-simple) than to take away tons of community-oriented, too-much-automation and mixing-of-code-and-style in Drupal. But that's only my experience, and I have more TXP skills than I do Drupal.

What Textpattern can't do (well, at least) is a freeform page hierarchy.
posted by tmcw at 10:10 AM on August 14, 2007

If your attached to Python (I see you mentioned Plone), Django has a sweet auto-generated administrative backend based on the models you define.
posted by Mach5 at 10:54 AM on August 14, 2007

There's a pretty-url extension for Typo3. There's also a caching extension that most people feel you should use. Read this page for information about performance in the CMS.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:21 AM on August 14, 2007

How about a wiki?
posted by rhizome at 12:01 PM on August 14, 2007

The biggest issue with Plone is the Zend engine it runs off.

You probably mean Zope engine; Zend is the company that publishes PHP.
posted by gsteff at 12:13 PM on August 14, 2007

Response by poster: Zope indeed -- Been playing with Drupal and making good progress!
posted by sirliberal at 1:31 PM on August 14, 2007

I second the consideration of a wiki.
I would have suggested one earlier, but everyone was all "CMS!", until rhizome.

* There are wiki engines that will allow custom CSS, so that it won't even look like a wiki.
* Lost of wiki engines have inline image support.
* Nearly all wiki engines have support for attachments (for your PDFs).
* Wikis are super simple to edit, some of them even have WYSIWYG editing capabilities. See "How can my nontechsavvy Mum maintain her own website", which was nearly best answered by the mum using a wiki. (It's obvious that the actual best answer won't fit your criteria.) Also, you might get something out of the other answers in that thread.
* Just in case there is something a particular wiki engine won't let you do directly, some of them even offer html code.
posted by philomathoholic at 2:17 PM on August 14, 2007

the advantage of writing it yourself, which I would do, is that its exactly tailored to your needs and you can make it extremely simple. If you've got specific needs from an existing site any CMS is likely to be over complicated and then there's the matter of integrating it.
posted by browolf at 11:14 AM on October 29, 2007

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