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Which to choose – software analysis

July 26, 2016

We are, have been considering software upgrades for our main CMS – content management system.  This kind of software is full featured, complex.  The software we have been using for about 10 years – yes, that is a long time, SchoolWorld, is getting shut down, end of life order.  I get it, the same thing happened with our product, that I was a developer on, DataMentor.

We are looking at two platforms.  A small of team of us evaluated options and recommended two.  SchoolWires and Finalsite.   Two similar products that serve similar audiences.  One may favor k-12, the other community colleges.

Each platform has its strengths.  Each includes little apps or programs that allow you to build a web site how you want.  Common apps include, content, forums, blogs, director listing, media rotators, file cabinets etc.

Each platform has the concept of a shared space.  Where only some people can access it.  In the shared space is a sense of collaboration, or so people hope.  You try to build software so its useable, friendly.  In the context of a web site and people using or owning parts of its content – would be content managers.  They are the real rock stars of a web site.  Not the technology, but the person, people who contribute to it.

My customer has a sense of a shared space.  Where groups like school principles or the PTA, or Gifted students or Budget Counsil.  I guess practically any group you can think of.  To be fair, there are many other types of software that want to do the same thing.  That do a good job of doing that.  think social media.  But, my customers, they want to keep the information behind a password or a log in.

Picture this then;

people are in a group – a group has a space – a space behind a password or login.

I then try to help people see how that space and how it could look (prototype – proof of concept).  I did this on one of the platforms.  I modeled a space, behind a login, and added things like, forums, content, images, blogs, file resources, agendas, discussions (forums), a survey, a podcast, a media rotator and a  email link, that allows a user in the group to initiate a group wide email (push).  We have to think social media too.  Our space may also have a social media integration, or presence.  Think “follow us on Twitter“.  Or “Like our Facebook page

There is the concept of pushing a communication to the group – via email.  For that, I built a link with simple instructions to use the web email and use the group name there.  The group name would contain the email of the participants.  This is not real technological, but it works, its understandable.   On this group wide communication, think – “when I update information in the group – the group needs to get an email sent to them”.  I believe that is what they (group admin) wants.

Information in a group changes – initiate group wide communication (email push).

I need to think about my customers, what do they want?  How can I help them see what they want?  They see it more clearly when I model something.  It sparks the creative bone in them.  Show them!  Which is what I am doing.  Model for them a concept of what they asked for.  I did.  Wait on them to look at, play with it a little, give a little feedback.  I will make a couple more changes, until the idea is clear in their head.  That is how it should/could work.  Remember when you were a developer, much of your success came from this type of modeling of concept for the customer!

CMS’s like BB SchoolWires and FinalSite academy have lots of little apps.  that can be used on pages that can be built.  pages can be organized in many ways on the site.  Sites can have themes, they can render according to the device that you are holding – think laptop, notebook, phone.  Pages can belong to groups.  Groups can contain people, accounts.  Some accounts in the groups could have more permissions than others.  The little apps that you could use on your pages in your space ‘;) are

Content, media, video, blogs, gallarys, file cabinets, directory listing, chat, (think commercial web sites or banks – love those live chat options, podcasts, media rotators.

 

 

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