Sep 27 2009

content management system (cms) editor

cushyLogoI have a few clients that want to make minor edits to the content of their websites. Usually these are just pain in the a** edits, so I gladly set them up with a WYSIWYG content management system (CMS). The best online options are 1) design the website using the WordPress engine, or 2) design from scratch and use CushyCMS as the client CMS editor.

I prefer option 2, not only because clients usually announce their intent to edit themselves after the site is designed but (especially) because most clients are digitally-challenged. WordPress can be daunting experience when the site does not incorporate the blog features. They confuse Posts with Pages and get lost in the Tags and Categories. Don’t misunderstand. I love WordPress and have used it for everything from a simple 6-page political campaign site to this blog (which isn’t all that deep, I know).

CushyCMS is easy to set up and easy to use and best of all, it’s free, unless you want to use your own branding instead of Cushy. In that case, it costs $28/month. As a Designer, you will need to register and set up the Site access (FTP) to the website(s) you want to enable for editing. Then, designate the page(s) that may be edited and the provide the email address of the Editor (your client). Your client will be sent a “Welcome to CushyCMS” message and a link to access their website and a list of pages to edit.

To enable editing, each editable element is assigned a class of “cushycms”. This can be an entire <DIV> region or by individual tags. For example:

<div id=”main content” class=”cushycms”>…</div>
<h2 class=”cushycms”>Lorem Ipsum sit Dolor</h2>
<p class=:”cushycms”>Nulla facilisi. In vel sem…</p>

…looks like this in a client edit session:


The edit session is simple and relatively rich. Just as with most other online CMS editors, neither the “Format” menu or the preview will display the styled HTML elements. The edited page must first be uploaded. Some clients find that getting used to the delayed feedback takes awhile.

Images and YouTube video can be either embedded via URL or uploaded. For more precocious clients, styles can be applied to objects. And, of course, there is an option to directly edit code.

This is a unabashed endorsement of a really nice, clean application. Now, if the folks at Cushy would just improve the (sound) quality of the video tutorial on the home page.

Aug 10 2008

new website launched

It’s been years since I’ve updated and it was frightening to see that I had not even updated the copyright notice since 2001, so I carved out a little time to do some work for myself. It’s sobering to go over the vast body of one’s work and choose the few that are portfolio material. In fact, I realized that most of it represents the design sensibilities of my clients as much as or more than my own. I tried to choose the pieces for which I placed a heavy hand on the aesthetic scale. The site itself is the one thing that comes close to demonstrating my capabilities. It ended up being mostly Flash-based, built on a CSS template and that gave the left side of my brain a bit of a workout.

Moving away from the portfolio portion of the website, I am actually more pleased with the consulting/training area (“geek translation“). CGCC students who are most likely to visit the site will appreciate that I finally removed the “2002 Class Schedule”. I also used the summer break to update course handouts and exercises. They are pretty elementary but may be of interest to someone in search of really easy Photoshop, Dreamweaver, or Flash tutorials.

My résumé is also more-or-less up to date but the basic idea hasn’t changed for 12 years. It matches an 8-page printed piece. I’m not job-searching so I’m not even sure why I keep it up, except to impress potential clients that I am skilled as a water witch (among other things).

A few loose ends remain, such as the tie to projects under construction. Some clients are not anxious to reveal work in progress but there are some recently completed projects that would work to at least ensure that my portfolio doesn’t go stale. A final loose end is the SEO work. Since most of my business is referral I am sure not aiming to be in the top 1,000 search results for “graphic designer” but it is useful to get the old site out of the Google cache and replace it with something with a more current copyright date.