Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

Thoughts

The Most Important Feature To Require In Your Next CMS

When it comes to content management systems, these two questions are the ones that I get asked the most:

  • What is the best CMS out there?
  • What features do I need to have in my CMS?

Over the years, I've tried answering that question in various forums. But inevitably my initial answers to the first question are almost always:

  • It depends on what you want to do.
  • It depend on who you're willing to work with.

This leaves us with the second question. What features do you need to have in a CMS? The honest answer is I won't know until I better understand your business goals and current workflow. But I can tell you with a straight face what is the most important feature your new CMS needs to have:

  • The ability to export your content easily out of your "new" CMS.

Too often, people worry only about importing their content into a new CMS from their old CMS. But what if in a year or two you find your new CMS fails to meet your needs? Before adopting a new CMS, you should have a clear exit stategy for the day your new CMS becomes your old CMS.

Ambulance Chasing: A Social Media Success Story

When it comes to posting online about my own personal misfortune, I have one simple rule. Don't talk about it until you can tell the story with a sense of humor. When it comes to a visible personal injury the first question you inevitably have to answer is, "What happened to you"? Three weeks ago, I was in a bicycle accident where I landed on my shoulder and broke my clavicle (collar bone). I'm better now but I'm still wearing an arm sling. My first attempt of bringing humor to the situation was on Twitter.

In the past, I've joked with my wife that every time I've had a physical injury it when I'm doing some type of physical exercise. My accident happened during a 26 mile bike ride on the bike trail when a skateboarder accidentally or on purpose (I want to believe it was the former and not the latter) put his skateboard in front of my bicycle wheel. I flipped over on the bike, landed on my shoulder, and by the next day found that I had broke my collar bone. The doctor said to expect my arm to be in a arm sling for two to six weeks. It took me almost a week to admit the specifics of my injury online. This time with a little less humor on Twitter.

Wearables: Even Apple Doesn't Get It

My number one priority for a smart watch is not to replace my car keys and wallet, although these are the type of things I do expect any wearable I purchase to be capable of doing. No, the highest priority of a smart watch should be to replace my need of carrying around my phone everywhere I go. Second highest priority needs to be the ability go and do things with your watch without having to worry if you need to the your charger along too. In other words, I'm not convinced smart watches will be for the masses (one the novelty wears off) until the wearable is independent of a second device and can go for days without charging.

Social Media Killed the Family Website

For the first time in 15 years, my family doesn't have a website to call their own. In January 2000, I registered the domain Bryansplace.com. This was the first website I ever built outside of work and it became a sandbox for me to express my interests as well as a way to seek personal growth. From handwritten HTML pages into Frontpage to a number of CMSs, the software and content at Bryansplace evolved as my life evolved.

Bryansplace.com was the website where my girlfriend and I announced our marriage to the world. As a married couple, we eventually publicly announced the birth of our son via the site. This domain was the site where I talked about camping, computers, and my latest beer recipes. It wasn't all about me either. My wife showcased her photography for the first time online via Bryansplace. This was also the website my son learned how to navigate the Drupal content management system and talk about his gaming skills. Bryansplace.com was synonymous with "family news". Despite how much I valued the domain, last week I unceremoniously killed the website.

The great ENIAC

After spending most of my years years in grade school working hard on experimental science fair projects and not receiving a ribbon, I finally gave up and wrote a "non-experimental" paper on the history of computers in the eighth grade. Despite the paper being weak even for eighth grade standards, I finally won a ribbon (third place) in the school science fair. Remember, this was the early 1980's and everyone was still fascinated with the then new concept of computers entering "everyday" life. Why am I going down memory lane? Well I came across an article on the 60th anniversary of ENIAC  [via news.com, broken link] the "first" computer built which of course was mentioned in that paper of mine some 25 years ago.

Though, only to find out after reading the article, ENIAC wasn't the first computer and it really didn't do a whole lot. They just had a good public relations department that explained well to the American audience what role the computer would play in the future. If you read the article you'll find (not included in my excerpt) that the PR people went so far to include the placing of flashing light bulbs on the computer console so that people had something to look at besides vacuum tubes and switches. Still, you have to admit it was an amazing engineering achievement despite needing a good marketing campaign to go along with it.

Is the end near for large professional organizations?

Last month, the Board of Directors for the Content Management Professionals announced the ending of CM Pros. The decision to close down the organization was evidently made by the Board in Summer 2014.

A couple years ago I joined CM Pros, paid for membership, never got billed, and never heard back from the organization. Knowing that some good people were involved in the organization told me that they were facing an uphill battle. The battle for an organization to have identity and play a role in the industry they wish to advocate.

The creation of CM Pros dated to the early 2000s. The organization was originally designed to unite professionals in all facets of the content management world.

In the years since, that world fractured and subdivided considerably, and other organizations emerged to serve the needs of the resulting sub-audiences. In particular, the emergence of the "content strategy" segment of the industry subsumed a large portion of the audience that CM Pros was originally intended to represent.

Given that the audience had become broad and fractured, the concept of a "content management professional" became too vague to effectively support. Thus, the Board determined that the organization had run its course and come to a natural end.

The LinkedIn group is still available, though it no longer represents any formal organization. It is unmoderated and open for unrestricted membership.

Although the CMS Pros didn't play a significant part in my content management endeavors, I'm nevertheless a little saddened by their departure. I understand the difficulties of advocating the technical side of content management when the more glitzy marketing side of the house is talking content strategy. But this isn't the cause of my sadness, it's my nostalgia for the days professional organizations had real value to people like you and me.

Blogging Still Matters

A few months ago, I had a problem. After eight years of non-stop writing, I found myself exhausted of all enthusiasm to blog. Let me tell you, it's a sad day in Web City when an advocate for content management systems has no real desire to author new content. I was also questioning in this age of "always on" social media whether the traditional blog had lost value not only to me but my readers. If content is no longer king, why should I spend so much effort creating new content? So as summer approached, I decided to take a break from blogging.

At the beginning of my sabbatical I made a secret promise to myself. If at the end of three months I found no value in blogging, I would call Agility to say it's time to shutdown CMS Report. I was prepared to resign myself to writing only an occasional post on Google+ (which "experts" claim no one reads) or on my personal blog (which I know nobody reads). If I did this, would I really miss CMS Report? Would the readers miss me if I was no longer blogging? On more practical terms, do I really need to blog in an era where Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter is available to me?

Honestly, three months ago I had hoped to find that blogging no longer has value. It would have been a revolutionary moment and raise the eyebrows of my peers. I was hoping to shock the world on my "discovery" that blogging didn't matter. Alas, after three months of not blogging, I've found that I will be given absolutely no opportunity to shock and awe. To my surprise, I've found that blogging still matters. Here is what I discovered...

Taking a 3 Month Blogging Sabbatical

Bryan Ruby in Sioux Falls, 2013.Last month, CMS Report celebrated eight years of providing stories to readers focused on content management systems. Over the years, I've told you how grateful and even surprised I am of the success CMS Report has seen. All true, but for fear of sounding ungrateful I've never acknowledged the negatives of blogging over such an extended period of time. Today, I'm acknowledging the costs and the need to take a break from my routine of waking up before sunrise and going to bed late to maintain the site. Starting today, I'm taking a three month sabbatical away from blogging here and at CMS Report.

CMS Report will still be publishing articles from our contributors during my sabbatical, but you likely won't be seeing any articles written by me. I still plan on continuing working as editor but my office hours for the site will be reduced. I'm doing all this simply because I have responsibilities to the "day job" and myself that are begging for higher priority. In the draft for this article, I originally provided three reasons that I'm doing this sabbatical but deleted them from the published article. My reasons for taking such a break are not important but only the outcome. The end result is CMS Report will be fine without me and will likely be a better website as a result of my sabbatical.

So I end this article by simply saying: see you on the other side!

Need Customer Experience Management? The CMS Box is Big Enough

If you're an insider of the content management industry, you're well of aware of the recent claims by some that the content management system is dead. If you're still using CMS as part of your vocabulary, you must not be keeping up with the times because it's all about customer experience management (CEM or CXM).  This is what some want you to believe. It's wishful thinking by those that want to be at the cutting edge of something new and believe you do that by diminishing the value of what we know currently works. Every few years we go through this movement and every time history has shown that the demise of the CMS is exaggerated.

I wasn't going to enter this conversation, but I've had some people already misread my need to put some distance between me and CMS Report as a signal that I see a sinking ship on the horizon. From my perspective, the opposite is actually true with what is going on in the CMS industry. In the past few years, I've been busier than ever talking and doing "content management". Everyone from writer to CEO now understands that managing content is the key to reaching out to customers. Only those that see a CMS as "web pages" and not a vital asset to a company's information system seem to not recognize the value of content management. There isn't a vendor, developer, or business owner that I've talked to that said they can do without a content management system.