Last week, I shared the general sense of shock around the blogs at news about Birmingham council’s new website: 3.5 years late, and costing £2.8 million. But last night, to my great surprise, I came across BirminghamNewsroom.com – a WordPress-powered website for the council’s press office, launched a couple of months back.
It’s based on iCompany – a ‘premium’ theme costing $80, with only minimal customisation; and by sheer virtue of choosing WordPress, it comes with a remarkably rich feature set, not least its offering of RSS feeds (and email alerting via S2). And that’s before we get on to its integration of Twitter, Flickr, YouTube/Vodpod, etc etc.
The domain was registered in March this year, and the site is hosted by justhost.com – who appear to charge a jawdropping £2.95/month for unlimited disk space / bandwidth / MySQL / domains, cPanel based, plus a free domain name. In other words, the perfect antidote to an over-running, over-spending web project. And with no immediate evidence of Big Consultancy involvement.
There are a few odd things in the build; I’ve written previously about why I don’t like using off-the-shelf themes; and if I wanted to be exceptionally cynical, I’d be concerned that the Press Office had felt the need to go out and build this site: what, the £2.8m site can’t match WordPress? But instead, I’m going to say ‘well done Birmingham press office’. I’ve always said WordPress would make the ideal platform for a press office, and this kinda proves it.