Texas Tech Today 2.0 is LIVE!

Texas Tech Today Screenshot

Whew! A few hard months of planning and preparation have come to a culmination with the launch of the new Texas Tech Today. TTT is our news and information site that holds all of our news releases, clips, stories, and videos. It all runs on WordPress with the help of some custom plugins and templates. This isn’t a typical blog site, and the extendability of WordPress allowed me to do some really cool things and use it as a CMS that will fit our needs very well. This is a credit to the developers of wp, and the fact that they have made it such a nice platform to work with.

This new version will make the posting of stories faster and more efficient. That way, our content developers can focus on producing more and more quality content that our audience will find valuable and want to share.

The old way of posting stories to our site was through dreamweaver and was completely file based, with no help from a cms of any sort. This worked ok for a while, but we realized there had to be a better way to manage our content. Since our stories are somewhat “templatable”, meaning they can have a standard sidebar and other options, I set out to find a way to make it dead easy to post a story without using dreamweaver. Enter wordpress and the ability to code plugins that do pretty much whatever you can think of, and we were set.

We used to have our stories and videos on one server and clips and news releases on another. The news releases and clips were pushed out with a custom mini-cms I built in CodeIgniter. The new way allows us to have everything in one place and the built-in rss feeds for every category make it easy to send out our feeds for each type of post.

Moving to WordPress will hopefully get us a little better search engine placement and maybe some chatter in the blogosphere. Wp-stats is amazing, but we’ve also got google analytics running so we can have a comprehensive view of our visitors and their interests in our content to serve them better.

My hope is that this can be a showcase of the power that wordpress has and that we can lead the way for other universities to use this wonderful software.

8 Comments, RSS

  1. David July 24, 2008 @ 7:02 pm

    Howdy Ryan: Didn’t see a contact place, so here it goes. I live near San Angelo out in the country. Having a hard time with some aspects of WP due to being a newbie and old- two hard things at the same time. Do you do any consulting-answer questions or such?….let me know feedburner is the current problem

  2. Tricia September 18, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

    Hey Ryan, long time no see! The new TTT is so impressive, I love it. Thank goodness you’ve made it so much easier because it was definitely a pain. Great work (and nice website) 🙂

  3. Brad Miller September 26, 2008 @ 11:54 am

    A. Have a header image map question. I’m not a programmer and want to make the Contact Us portion of the header link to: http://redhousemedia.com. Can you either:
    1. Tell me how to do it.
    2. Do it for me and I’ll compensate you.
    3. Point me to a specific fix for this type of thing.

    B. http://bniscramble.com| I’m trying to create sub nav items for the blog (seen lower right). To keep them off the main menu, I privatized them. Now one can’t see them if not logged in. What other solution is there for creating sub-nav pages that WILL show for the Non-Logged in public?

  4. Ryan September 29, 2008 @ 6:32 pm

    Hi Tricia, thanks for your comments 😉 I had been working on it for a few months and we launched this summer. It’s been so much easier for everyone to post and manage stories, plus the writers post news releases and everything is all together in one site and searchable. I’m glad we made the switch from static dreamweaver pages. There is so much more we can do and more efficiently than the old way.

    Sorry for taking so long to respond, but I’ve set up the option to where I get an email anytime someone makes a comment.
    What are you doing at Baylor?

  5. Ryan September 29, 2008 @ 6:49 pm

    Brad,

    I sent you an email regarding your questions.
    Thank you.

  6. Tricia October 27, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

    I’m a Communications Specialist for the School of Social Work, which means I manage all of their websites and a few databases. I’m interviewing right now for a Web Designer position with Electronic Communications though, wish me luck!

  7. Matt February 9, 2009 @ 10:33 am

    Hey Ryan,

    I am VERY impressed with the way you have been able to develop WP into a CMS. I would like to do many of the same things you are doing with TTT. I am just starting to learn code as I work my way along to WP mastering. Have you seen any quality CMS themes available? Be they ‘premium’ or not I could sure benefit from a boost to get things falling in place. Also, if you are so kind, what would be your short list of absolutely required plugins for a CMS site with WordPress. I will continue to check in on the TTT developments and feel free to check out my site next week about this time as I hope to have it completely renewed. Again, AWESOME job!

  8. Ryan February 10, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate that.
    A good CMS-type theme I have seen and worked with is Thesis. It’s pretty customizable and flexible.
    As far as plugins, I really kinda create my own based on my needs, but there are thousands out there that provide pretty much any thing you can think of. A useful one is “More Fields”, that makes custom fields easier to use repetitively.
    The wordpress docs and codex is really good if you want to develop plugins and themes of your own.
    Good luck.

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