Engage East England, CMS Made Simple

A recent project required us to create a website for Rochford District Council, Uttlesford District Council and Essex County Council where users would be able to access information relating to public consultations and best practice. Nothing particularly remarkable in that – this is the sort of project that we enjoy doing as it is for a very good purpose and allows a degree of creativity in the design and approach to creating the site.

What is of interest is that we needed to provide a complete CMS system that would allow the lead members to update the information as and when needed and use some simple tools to aid them in the process. This could actually have been quite a tricky task given the scope of CMS tools available and the ease in which the systems can be managed.

It was whilst searching through the various tools available that we decided on using ‘CMS Made Simple’, which as the name suggests is a simple, but powerful CMS system.

Running on PHP and MySQL, the system is open source and works right out of the box. The simplicity of it is in the way that page templates can be created for a number of different styles. The plug in architecture aids the creation of new modules, but the system comes complete with quite a package – certainly enough to create a reasonably sophisticated web site.

User management tools are good, with different levels able to be set up and each given different privileges to allow for editing and authoring and so on. The one area which seems harder than it ought to be is the menu creation aspect – this is a tad convoluted but appropriately enough the extra steps needed to create a menu allow for some useful features to be included. For example, you can create a menu which acts as a ‘nugget’ and can be incorporated into other menus you make. This nesting ability allows the author to create a flexible and yet dynamic menu system with relative ease.

The system is relatively new to the market and consequently isn’t well documented, but there is enough there to get you going and to answer most general queries. Over time I expect this tool will mature into quite a useful but simple system, and I hope that above all else the developers keep a tight grip on the need for simplicity.

More information, updates and so on are available on the CMS Made Simple web site.