IWC.com and the publishing system powering it are a new cornerstone for IWC's digital strategy. Given the goal that this system remain relevant for a minimum of 10 years (and what can happen on the internet in 10 years) technology choices were particularly important.
How do you future-proof a development like this?
For us, the logical place to start is with technologies that are familiar, flexible and open.
The standards-based front end delivers a variety of beautiful content to the widest range of site visitors. The content itself is managed by IWC's internal team, using a sophisticated and easy to use CMS built with the tremendously flexible Django framework.
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The result is a rich, engaging experience that is highly accessible and absolutely stunning on an iPad as well as in IE.
The publishing Platform
Picking the right application platform is a critical step in a project like IWC.com. In the course of our work, we've used several different CMS products and platforms. Additionally, through our partnerships with clients and development groups we've gained experience with an even wider variety of tools.
For the most part, the options lie on a continuum with packaged CMS products like Ektron and TYPO3 at one end and application frameworks such as Ruby on Rails and CodeIgniter at the other.
CMS packages are designed for publishers. They tend to have things like workflow management and other features to support large teams of non-technical contributors.
Frameworks, on the other hand, cater to developers. They are much more flexible and allow for complex business logic and custom data models to be implemented with relative ease.
The most successful CMS projects we've been involved with have been built using tools that fall closer to the middle of this continuum, offering features of tools at both ends.
For IWC, flexibility was critical. For example, we needed to be able to build a unique watch browsing experience with complex data relationships. We also had very specific ideas about how we wanted to extend the features of the thriving IWC forum. What's more, we needed the flexibility to evolve the system and accommodate a variety of features on the post-launch roadmap and others not yet imagined.
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Meanwhile, we didn't want -- nor did we have time -- to create common user and content management features from scratch.
Django offers exactly what we needed. As an application framework with its origins in the newspaper publishing industry, it offers flexibility and rapid development tightly coupled with core features needed for content management systems. Furthemore, Django's vibrant community provides applications to extend its core capabilities with projects like FeinCMS and Haystack.
For IWC, the result is an easy to use publishing system that is used to create a rich variety of experiences rather than a highly repetitive series of templates.
More to come
Over the coming months we will be writing more about how we built IWC.com. If you have any particular questions or topics you'd like to hear more about, let us know in the comments bellow.
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