I’m pleased to note that the first job I did under the Puffbox banner will shortly be going live to the world. All you’ll see is a website; but, ah, if only you knew what lay beneath…
The client is a well-established editorial business, writing articles for others to publish. But they realised the web had changed the rules of their business, and they wanted to become an end-to-end online publishing operation. I helped them develop the idea of a publishing platform, integrating with their existing XML production routines, which could power multiple websites from a single content bank.
If you’ve ever worked in content management, it’s relatively easy to imagine how the various front ends could look very different, with different CSS and different HTML. The clever bit was the simplicity of the back end, allowing my client to build very different site architectures from the same content, using familiar Explorer-style techniques – creating new folders and dragging documents into them.
The first people to use the new platform will be the marketing operation of a major High Street bank. I saw the new site for the first time today, and it’s really nice – a huge improvement on what’s gone before. But the real beauty lies beneath, and will reveal itself when the second, third and fourth sites are launched. It’s taken a good few months to build the platform: but subsequent sites should only take a couple of weeks, maybe even less. It adds a whole new dimension to my client’s pitch, and gives them a significant competitive advantage.
Purist that I am, it isn’t quite the CSS Zen Garden that I initially imagined – but it was never going to be. In practice, the clients will always want certain things to be a certain way, and it’s much more sensible to hand-code custom HTML templates in such circumstances. There’s also the unavoidable issue of ‘tweaked’ versions of the centralised articles: to promote a relevant product, or remove a reference to your competitor. But full credit to the developers, the Bristol-based Nameless, who have made it all work beautifully.