Now that my exams and courseworks are over, I've been spending a bit more time on other activities (as well as trying to find a job).
The first of these was to re-design the the website for the student radio station which I'm going to be station managing over the next year, Rare FM. Over the past year, it was initially run using PHP Nuke - however, this system was never really used and so it just sat there looking outdated. For our FM broadcast, we desperately needed the website to be working though. So I managed to get a student to design a simple site, and then quickly fleshed this out as some simple HTML pages, using a couple of includes for the menus.
Long term though, this was too difficult to maintain, as it meant keeping a local copy of the site and FTPing any changes. We needed a simpler system, but nothing as complicated as a bloated content management system. The solution that I saw was to use the blog technology, Moveable Type.
This has several advantages - it's a proven technology, so should be easy to hand over to someone else, and is well supported with help forums and plugins. The web interface means that you can let lots of people have the ability to post to the site, without knowing much HTML. There's also the additional features of having RSS feeds (both site-wide and specific ones) and commenting. The chronological nature of a blog also matched the kind of content we were going to have: news, gig reviews, and so on.
Implementing the technology was fairly simple. I kept it looking fairly similar to the original site so there's no obvious changes. Some of the static pages are done as single templates, which isn't ideal, but works fairly well. The main pages are blog entries, using categories to seperate them into different types.
So far it's all worked well. The site has just been indexed by Google and is attracting some traffic towards the obscurer gig reviews. People have also begun to leave comments (mostly disagreeing with our reviews, which is great).
The few drawbacks with the system that I've noticed so far are that:
- The template for the category pages don't let you distinguish between individual categories.
- There's no way of assigning permissions to let people only post in certain categories.
- Posting an entry by someone else is a bit complicated.
However, I think the benefits outweigh these minor problems, and I'd like to see this kind of approach adopted by more student stations, if not some professional radio stations too...