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Sitemason's New Homepage: A Case Study

We could have announced our new website with a press release and been on our way, but instead we wanted to take the opportunity to show off some of our Sitemason tools.  Specifically we'll show you how using the News Feed tool can accomplish varied website functions and features.

Rotating Slider with jQuery and the News Feed

jQuery logoSliders are becoming somewhat ubiquitous on the web these days. The rotating panels offer a great way of highlighting more than one feature with a little spiffy animation to boot. Most often this is handled by Flash. 

Flash is fine, but it usually requires a Flash designer/developer which is the antithesis of our "Take Control of Your Website" mantra.  Luckily javascript, and it's popular libraries like jQuery, are proving that you don't need Flash to get great looking animated features on your website.

Screenshot of Editing an Article in SitemasonMore importantly, because we can use javascript to do our animations, it makes it really simple to integrate the XML from a News Feed tool with our jQuery scripts to create a really great animated slider.  This means that you can add/remove/edit your animated slides just as simply as adding any article to a News Feed.

News Feed as a Blog

Web publishing has long been a staple for the Sitemason CMS, but there are a few features of the News Feed that allow it to be translated easily to a traditional blog.  Namely, the tags system and comments. 

Tags have become a boon for categorization and relational search, and have become a cornerstone of what moved the web forward to it's current "2.0" monicker. Using tags allows you to quickly and easily find similar postings across multiple categories and listings.

Recently, in addition to its own comments, Sitemason gave its customers the option of integrating third party comment systems Disqus & JS-Kit. This pretty much answers any need anyone would ever have for comments in their website, and makes blogging that much more interesting.

The Sitemason News page uses blog-like formatting in the XSL template to deliver a traditional blog to the new Sitemason web site for delivering our News, Events & Announcements for our customers.

Just a News Feed or a Development Platform?

Screenshot of Sitemason's News tool powering the Sitemason blogThe flexibility of the News Feed lends it to all sorts of uses.  So much so, that it can often be used as it's own development platform.  Our new Featured Projects section of our website is a great example of how we can use a standard News Feed tool to develop complex applications for the web. 

By combining a customized XSL template with the News Feed and it's tagging system, we've built a Featured Projects application that is just as easy to update as adding an article in Sitemason.

Using the News Feed to tag each project in a new article allows visitors to quickly navigate through our work and look up projects by what Sitemason tools they are using, what industry they're apart of, or by a Sitemason partner's work. 

We can then use those tags to parse out the projects in any number of navigational ways such as a drop down menu, alphabetically, or by category (service, industry, tools, etc).

Additional Highlights

Google logoSince Sitemason templates are XSL based, they play extremely well with standard HTML/Javascript/CSS, etc. One benefit of this is that it allows integration with third party applications to be seamless.  For example, our Sitemason site search is powered by Google Custom Search.  Google makes a slew of products that are extremely simple to drop in a standard website, and Sitemason can work with just about all of them.

Twitter logoThe ultra-popular micro-blogging tool Twitter also makes javascript embed-able tools that drop right in a Sitemason template. We've made use of one on our home page.  If you use Twitter, you should go ahead and follow us so you don't miss out on future announcements and important news... or more often random musings on the web.

 

Billy White headshot thumbnail

Billy is a web developer and Chief Product Officer (CPO) at Sitemason, and has been with the company since 2006.  Read more about Billy White.

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