Ovi's Blog on technology and the web

The Content Management System that wasn’t

As I’ve been reflecting on this past year, get ready for the new one I’ve been thinking about some of the projects I’ve worked on in the past. One of projects that came to mind was my own take on a content management system which I worked over two and a half years ago.

At the time, I had worked with many websites along with a few content management systems, enough to where I had some ideas of how I would build my own if I had the opportunity. In my pursuit of the ultimate content management system for clients, I came across an interesting one called Injader. It was a project developed by primarily one guy, Ben Barden who used it for some of his own websites. What got my attention was how lightweight it was, at least compared to the behemoth WordPress was turning into.

After setting it up and testing it out for a pet project I was working on, I decided to contact Ben about helping out with further development of the system by taking on the interface design end. Five months of working on it on the side along with our day jobs, we decided to call it quits. We both had other projects we were pursuing (it was around the time I started Indie Aisle) and this one didn’t seem to work out for us. One thing I realized is that what started out to be a simple tool quickly turned into something rather complex and may have been too ambitious in the end.

I thought I’d share a few screens and describe what the design concepts behind them were (as I remember them). Maybe it’ll provide inspiration for the content management system you may work on someday! The CSS/HTML was completely built so you can click on the screenshots to explore the mockups as they were when I sent them over to Ben.

Injader screenshot - Sitemap

Sitemap – This is how pages were organized, the unique approach was that it did three things in one: built the navigation structure for the site, gave an overview of the entire structure of the site, and defined Content Types for the kind of information on the site, either info pages, blog posts, forums, or portfolio galleries. It also shows widgets attached to each page which I’ll explain in the next screen.

Injader screenshot - Widgets

Widgets – The idea with Widgets was based on three types: Layout which required special CSS/HTML formatting, Data which incorporated database data, and Web which was essentially embed code from other sites. Each would be inserted into a page with template code snippets, in any part of the site.

Injader screenshot - Tools

Tools – Similar to WordPress’s plugins, but mainly focused on behind-the-scenes management which is why it was separate from the content side along with the Themes editor, Settings and user Access options.

Injader screenshot - Access

Access – A complete user system with custom roles options.

So as always, a failure is also a good learning experience. I got a chance to experiment with some new interface techniques and improve my CSS skills. And the overall experience gave me a different perspective on how I built websites with a content management system.

Originally published January 13th, 2012