Earlier this summer, Student Life, the independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis, relaunched its Web site using WordPress µ. The new site is the culmination of several months of conversations within Student Life’s Web team and a summer of intense design and programming. More importantly, the July launch was the first time that Student Life’s Web site was completely student-run since joining College Publisher in 2001 (long before it became the College Media Network).
Our decision to leave CMN and College Publisher 5.0 stemmed from a desire to gain finer control over users’ experience in interacting with our Web site and to open to door for future Web development projects. We had been having discussions for several years about the possibility of building our own site, but the final decision to leave CMN was made last spring after a rocky experience with CP5 and the growth of our Web staff to a size that we thought could sustain the design and development of a new site into the future.
As we started to look for a content management system to power our new site, we evaluated three basic options: using WordPress (WordPress µ), Drupal or building our own content management system in Django. At the end of the day, we chose to go with the WP option because several members of our interactive staff had worked with it in the past and because the system offered an easy way of running our main site and all of our blogs within one installation. Although Drupal is also extremely powerful, we found that WordPress’s interface was better suited to a workflow that would begin to allow non-technical reporters and editors to work within our CMS. We haven’t dropped the long-term plan of moving to a Django-powered system, but the development cycle for creating a system that would completely suit our needs would have taken far longer than the time we allotted for our Web transition.