For those following our recent posts, you will have noticed a lot of chatter about the work behind new.shropshire.gov.uk. This has covered pretty much all the stages of the project, from the initial announcement of the prototype site right up to the launch, but one thing we haven’t covered is our choice of CMS – Umbraco.
Over the past few years we have been looking for a replacement for our own in-house developed CMS, hoping to find something that can be easily adapted to suit the ever-changing requirements of our customers. We’ve investigated a number of commercial systems, but have repeatedly found that they either come with restrictive development frameworks, or we have fallen foul of the limited budget we have in Local Government, having to prioritise other more urgent projects over a new CMS.
Fortunately, we’ve been using other open source products as part of our development infrastructure, which led us to wonder “can we find a suitable open source CMS?”. This is when Umbraco came to our attention.
Umbraco ticks all the boxes for us – it is open source; it has an easy-to-use back-office system; it is built using modern and well known programming languages/techniques; it has an active community using and developing diverse multi-functional websites with it; and, more importantly, it has a track record within Local Government (not to mention some fairly high-visibility commercial websites too).
With all these points in mind we decided to download a copy (then Umbraco 4.7.1) and have a play around for ourselves. Even using the basic out-of-the-box installation (with a few plugins and packages to get us started) we could see the potential of the CMS, and the benefits it would bring to both to the editors of our content and to ourselves as website designers/developers.
Our own testing was enough for us take our investigation further, leading to a trip to the offices of Liverpool Direct to speak to Kevin Jump and Conor Moody about their use of Umbraco. This was a pretty interesting experience, as not only were they able to answer the questions we had about the day-to-day and long-term running and maintenance, but also raised and explained a few points we had not considered.
Ultimately, the discussion we had that day helped us to make a decision – we would be using Umbraco for new.shropshire.gov.uk.
Coming up – our experiences with using Umbraco.