Monday, June 24, 2013

Web Must-Have: 3 Ways To Master Any CMS

Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Hey Edsters!

I'm super excited to have finally gotten then hang of things at my internship. It's always such a relief to get past the yes-I'm-totally-new-here phase out of the way! This week I wanted to share a few tips on writing for the web with you.

A large portion of my day at Women’s Lifestyle Mag is spent using a a content management system (CMS). I also spend time prepping articles with HTML for a third-party lifestyle website. Women’s Lifestyle Mag has a partnership with an high-traffic website that posts a lot of blogs covering a lot of the same topics that Women's Lifestyle Mag covers.

 In order to increase traffic on Women's Lifestyle Mag's website, they post a few of their articles on the third-party site every day. Until this internship, I had never used Women's Lifestyle Mag's CMS or the third-party website's CMS. I’m used to other CMSs, like WordPress, Drupal, SliverStripe, etc. so I wasn’t completely dumfounded. But, every CMS has its own quirks, so it has taken a few posts for me to really get the hang of it.

It’s become pretty clear to me that in the world of web, it’s important to be able to adapt. Different publications use different CMSs, and the systems are updated all of the time. If you can adjust to new technology, you’ll definitely stand out! Here’s what I’ve learned about getting the hang of a new CMS so far.

1. Clone articles when you can

I love this tip. The previous web intern and my supervisor both let me in on this little secret and it has truly been a godsend! Some CMSs have a cool feature that allows you to copy preexisting content. So, if you’re writing a daily blog, you can copy a previous blog post, update the content, and you’re good to go! The only downside here is that you need to be extra careful to make sure that you updated everything. The content tags might stay the same if your writing a recurring blog (i.e. “celebrity news” or “fashion”), but you need to be sure that the dates, descriptions, etc. have all been updated.

2. When you can’t clone, be a copy cat (sort of)

The third-party website's CMS doesn’t have a clone option, but I’ll still open a new tab and look at a similar post for reference. I’ve actually found it helpful to open two extra browser tabs: one that has the article in preview and another tab that shows the HTML side of things. By doing this I can easily visualize where each HTML field shows up on the front end, which is helpful.

3. Know your HTML

I think it’s becoming more and more likely that writers will need to know their way around a CMS. One of the editors I sit by told me that even the print interns are responsible for doing a blog post when they are in the office! When you’re helping out with a blog post, knowing HTML is pretty crucial. If I ever get stuck, I visit This website is amazing! I use it on the daily for random tags that I can’t remember. I had to throw in the trademark symbol into a post the other day—instead of asking my supervisor I just hopped on over to w3schools and voilĂ : question answered. It’s really nice to be able to figure out little questions like this on my own. I think it also makes it easier on my supervisor, who’s busy doing a thousand and one other things. While she’s always there to answer my questions, I’m sure she’d rather have me figure out the little things on my own!

Overall, things have been going great over in the web department of Women’s Lifestyle Mag. I love being there so much; I hardly ever want to leave! I’m hoping that my supervisor and the other editors can see this. I think they might, because I was just asked to read a new book and a post on it! More on that next week!

Until then, do you have any tips on how to master a new CMS? How do you tackle the nuances of blogging and HTML? Sound off in the comments below!

Women’s Lifestyle Intern

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