govCMS demo site

Morpht has released a govCMS demo site which demonstrates some techniques which can lead to easier more effective site builds for Government agencies.

The govCMS codebase has been recently made available on Github and Acquia Cloud for easy spin up. The team here at Morpht have been keen to see the features which made the final cut and to get our hands on the code to see what it was capable of. After reviewing how things had been put together we formed a plan of attack on how to make some relatively simple changes to the foundations of a vanilla install to achieve some improvements which could be used in future builds. The result is the govCMS Demo site.

Our aims

Our overarching aim for the project has been to provide better tools for content creators. We wanted to give content creators a great set of tools, allowing them to create compelling looking sites with the maximum of ease.

During the build of the demo site we were particularly mindful to respect the codebase. We did this by:

  • developing with a light touch to respect the code which was already in place,
  • augmenting the functionality which ships with the current distro,
  • preserving accessibility, responsive and security features whch have been carefully included,
  • avoiding the addition of specific features which solved a narrow purpose.

Given these considerations we wanted to bring the following improvements:

  • a consistent and appealing visual approach using standard "view modes",
  • flexible, responsive templates which would adapt to the content added by editors,
  • a consistent interface for editng all content on the site including landing pages,
  • the provision of some handy "paragraphs" to give content creators some expressive freedom,
  • the addition of some easily accessed styling options on "paragraphs" to give designers the ability to bring the pages to life with background imagery etc.

We were able to achieve these improvements through the use of the standard toolset which ships with the distribution. The end result is a demo site which supports the basic out of the box functionality of a standard install, with a number of extra features which give content creators, designers and editors some extra freedom to build out compelling pages.

Please take a look at a couple of demo pages to see what we mean:

  • Paragraph types: A small collection of helpful widgets for placement on the page;
  • Paragraph styles: Control the background classes, colours, images and parallax images on elements;
  • Layouts: Design pages as "normal" (with sidebars) or as "edgy" (stretch the full width of the page);
  • Highcharts: Easily add charts to your pages;
  • View modes: Stress test our view modes by resizing the page;
  • Australia: We roughly mimic the design of australia.gov.au to show what is possible with no custom theming.

Just a foundation

The govCMS demo site is just a foundation. It illustrates that by using a common language for defining the way things are presented it is possible to achieve simple but effective designs relatively easily.

It has not been designed to solve a specific problem. So, for example, it is not a blog, a ministerial site, a document repository nor a marketing site. It is none of these. However, with a little bt of extra site building it can easily be adapted to serve as the foundation for any one of them.

The future

If there is interest from Acquia or from the Department of Finance, the team at Morpht would be happy to continue to develop the govCMS demo site so that it can be further refined and extended as required. It would then be in a good position to serve as a "white label" site and to act as a starting point for any number of govCMS builds. If you are a Government agency and like the look of this approach then it can be easily adapted for your future govCMS site :)

Possible paths for development would be:

  • the further addition of view modes to aid the customisation of landing pages,
  • the extension of the WYSIWYG editor with various plugins to give editors more control,
  • the expansion of the current set of "paragraph types" to allow for a wider range of widgets.

What we have is a great starting point for building out a sophisticated set of tools for content creators. Our aim is to provide editors with a great set of tools to communicate the message they need to communicate.

If you would like to discuss this further with us, please get in touch.