Carnival of Journalism: What I Want For Christmas

My entry in theDecember’s Carnival of journalism, hosted by The Guardian Developer blog. This month’s question: If you are a journalist, what would be the best present from programmers and developers that Santa Claus could leave under your Christmas tree?

My wish for the Christmas elves? Put someone other than IT in charge of all CMS purchases. [There’s an argument to be made that IT shouldn’t be in charge of IT … but that’s another story.]

I make this wish (a not-very-veiled complaint) for the same reason that Don Norman criticized the design of stoves in The Design of Everyday Things. Landlords and housing developers are major purchasers of stoves. Thus, the person making the buying decision is focused primarily on price and reliability. Usability does not enter into the equation.

And so it goes with most software purchases in a corporate or enterprise system. I’m experiencing one of those purchase decisions in the project I’m working on right now.

It’s a content management system (CMS) called SiteCore. Here are three things that indicate how unusable the tool’s interface is:

  1. To preview a page, you click publish.
  2. To publish a page, you click preview.
  3. To edit a page, you click home.

There is no way in heaven or hell that this software could have been tested with people who create web pages … unless the tests were stictly for functionality. That is, to see if the buttons worked. Not if the interface worked.

There are under-the-hood problems, too. The kind you would think IT would be aware of and care about, if they understood web technology that is. This software is a document model system in an object model world. As a result, redesign takes far more effort than modifying CSS.

The software purchae was supposed to make it easy for non-web staff to update pages. For that purpose, a better tool would be WordPress (which is free but has upfront development costs) or even Adobe Dreamweaver (which would be more expensive because of a per-seat charge). Of the three, WordPress would be the best long-term solution because it separates content from presentation.

I wish I knew who should be in charge of purchase decisions like these. But because moving IT purchases out of IT is one of those “never gonna happen” wishes, I’ll propose a secondary wish: any IT purchases must be vetted by those who will use the software on a daily basis. And ease of use must be factored into the buying decision; it’s more important, in the long run, that the initial outlay.

However, this won’t happen so long as organizations are structured in silos, where a cost saving for one VP is a cost burden for another. And that’s how most “enterprises” are organized.

Prior Carnival of Journalism Posts

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By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

6 replies on “Carnival of Journalism: What I Want For Christmas”

Voting responsibility
We in this civilized society have responsibility to other people. We the innocent child that joins our US Military at such a young immature age learns the cruelty of growing up quickly. One of my pet peeves is a wife or anyone back here that never serves in our military talk about how they understand what it is like. NH congresswoman Shea-Porter is a person just like that. I read an article in Veterans Today about a Minnesota combat veteran that the courts are trying to siphon from his disability check for alimony to his wife. This is a common criminal manipulation of the law by the courts. If a judge does not like the law there are proper ways to change it legally. People that never have any intention of serving in our US Military believe they know what it is like. One day survival is how complacent you become with the fact this is the last day of life every second of ever day. You on a daily routine do missions or events people back here cannot even conceive as humanly possible. The short calendar is dreams of some day making it back alive from where to trust too much is a sure death. The confusion of killing with out emotion becomes the cold hard determent to any civilized society accepting us home. The law ignores the truth of what we have become to strip us of our Constitutional rights forcing homelessness or incarnation. We take an oath to this civilized society that back here in the “world” USA complications make readjustment difficult.
To get all this out of an article on divorce as my personal treatment for PTSD and TBI is volunteering to help others every day just to live. The Veterans Administration stops my medical care for combat related disabilities evading the law by using the term Safety of the Providers. The State of NH takes my freedom claiming under the Patriot Act that I am a terrorist. I lose my freedom of six months before the bogus charges are dropped. All to protect the NH Supreme Court from my using freedom of speech to show NH SC discrimination and conflict of interest in their refusal to hear a case presented to them of a brother Judge/ attorney Peter Fauver criminally using the law to enable the Madbury NH selectmen to take from local residents for the selectmen’s personal gains. I am running for elected office and the News Media believes censoring the public of my life is the proper thing to do using public safety as the catchall reason. The civilized society responsibility to other people is so well highlighted in this VT article as the silence of what happens to US Military Veterans (not all but even one) back here daily.
I take to the ORSB my life in the Vietnam Conflict, my ability to kill, my thoughts of living to come back to a land that does not want us, the constant pain from my disabilities and the disfiguring mental and physical abilities the pubic uses to alienate we the ones that full filled our responsibilities to this civilized society.. The USA has laws that are being turned around to harm the US Military Veteran as your voice tells us that you understand but the silent words you use (?)
Peter Macdonald Sgt USMC Semper Fi
465 Packers falls Rd Lee NH 03824 603-781-3839

So true. I wanted to write a post for jcarn, and it would’ve been about wanting better Content-Management-Systems – and many of the reasons CMS’ tend to suck is because they’re not build or bought by the people who eventually use them.
For example, photos are hugely important on a news site, but finding and adding those photos often is a pain in a CMS. The CMS is among the most important yet most undervalued tools of a web journalist. We have to make them better.

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