Gizmo CMS

Custom content management system for The Business Journals

CMS story editor (late 2019)

The story editor in the CMS used by staff at The Business Journals' 43 local journals has some great opportunities for improvement. The interface is not What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG), with wide lines of tiny text. Photos and other media are displayed as gray boxes with small thumbnail images, and can not be configured to display on the website as any size other than the width of the article text, cropped using predefined aspect ratios. This makes the use of headshot photos particularly problematic.

Our product organization had long assumed that moving to a WYSIWYG editor would be too complex and take more effort than the business was ready to commit.

In only one afternoon, I built a prototype to demonstrate how we can reconfigure the existing story editor to function as a fully WYSIWYG tool, with the ability to toggle between mobile and desktop views. Article text is formatted exactly as it would be when published. Most importantly to our news rooms, vertical photos (which would include many executive headshots) can display at a smaller size, floated to the left or right. Wide, impactful photos can be displayed full-width in their original aspect ratios.

Once I demonstrated the prototype to the product owner overseeing the CMS, he was immediately converted from a WYSIWYG skeptic to a supporter. We approached the CMS' main stakeholders together and received enthusiastic buy-in, while also working with our engineering team to validate the feasibility and develop an implementation plan. The project is now on the product team's roadmap for development in Q1 2020.