Downgrading your website. Taking a human centered approach to your infrastructure.


Micah Walter, Independent, USA

Three years ago, Cooper-Hewitt finally began publishing its website using a modern Content Management System. This CMS was designed to be sophisticated, powerful, and flexible enough to meet the demanding needs of the institution. It was designed using an open source platform Drupal, and configured internally. It sounded like an ideal solution at the time as many other institutions were using Drupal.

After nearly three years of struggling with this complex but feature rich CMS, we began to notice that things weren’t going the way we would have liked. Curators, educators and members of our marketing and communications staff simply didn’t like it. Simple tasks like publishing daily events and programs, authoring blog posts and updating our marketing web pages was still a painful task that required multiple people including myself and other digital team members. The goal of a self sufficient publishing platform had not been realized and it was time for a change.

This research chronicles the process of “downgrading” to WordPress as the institution’s main CMS. It focusses on the institution’s need to move toward a publishing platform its own staff members could all get along with, in a collaborative and fast paced environment. It will look at the obstacles, pitfalls and challenges associated with a migration of this magnitude, with a special emphasis on the content authors and their influence on the design process from start to finish.

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