More than anything, maintaining a website is about keeping its content relevant and up-to-date.
Thousands of tools—from all-inclusive content management systems to sidebar widgets—can help online editors manage the task.
“Oh man, there are so many out there,” says Fred Jandt, senior manager of Digital Operations at Cygnus Business Media. “If you’re trying to decide between them, make a list of what you want or need for your site and see which one offers the most. And test out the user interface.”
Technical capability should be considered, Jandt says, but not at the expense of utility.
Here are some of the most popular (and functional) online edit tools available:
Content Management Systems
The Tool: Drupal is the most comprehensive end-to-end content management system [CMS] out there. The open source model is maintained by a community of over 630,000 users and is available for free on the organization’s website.
The Use: “[It] provide[s] easy content management for our digital editorial staff while allowing extensive customization and dynamic front-ends that enable our brands to express themselves individually,” says Sherilyn Keaton, senior vice president of digital products and service for Bonnier. “We are relaunching many of our sites now on the new Drupal 7 platform.”
The Tool: For ease and simplicity, WordPress is the way to go. The user-friendly platform features an intuitive dashboard that manages content for more than 5 million sites worldwide—the most of any CMS. WordPress is also a free, open source platform.
The Use: “Yes, it’s a blog site,” Jandt says. “But it’s also very versatile with lots of options and an easy to use back end interface. WordPress also provides an iPad formatted version built in, which is awesome.”
The Tool: Everyone knows about Twitter, but not everyone knows how to use it correctly or how to maximize its utility—those questions are still being answered. While it likely will never be the main focus of a site, Twitter can be a valuable, easy way to provide fresh content.
The Use: “I think possibly understated is the versatility of Twitter,” Jandt says. “Twitter can be a viable newsfeed option with a wealth of information at your fingertips, allowing you to post updates at a moment’s notice from virtually anywhere. … [T]here is a real understated strength to how it can be used in conjunction with a site.”
The Tool: Storify is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to curate social content from places like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and publish it onto a site. Editors can balance original content and customized feeds that can bring writer and audience together in one place with a professional look.
The Use: “Storify is used on several [Bonnier] web sites to help showcase the social media contributions of our readers,” says David Butler, digital director of Bonnier’s Active Interest Network. “Following a recent Twitter chat with the editors of Scuba Diving and Islands, we used Storify to curate and share a list of our readers’ favorite places to dive and snorkel, and their most notable underwater discoveries.”
The Tool: The live-event publishing tool has only been around since 2007, but it’s now used by several of the world’s leading media brands. While, as a live tool, it has found a natural home in sporting events, the platform has the potential to augment coverage of any real-time occasion. Recently, CoveritLive was used by 2.5 million readers to follow the iPhone 5 announcement on Sept. 12.
The Use: “CoveritLive is a popular application that allows brands to extend their live-event coverage,” Butler says. “It allows for multiple contributors and the inclusion of stats, polls and photos among other offerings. And it works across mobile, tablet and Facebook, as well.”