Testing out new Content Management Program – Mambo

This post was written by marc on May 3, 2005
Posted Under: Technology

I’ve been testing out a new piece of software called Mambo. it’s a very highly rated content management system allowing you to crate a whole web site from a web based user interface. I’m still learning it and it looks great but like most open source applications ikt’s far harder to learn than it needs to be. I left the following message on their support board and wanted to publish it here so it wouldn’t get lost. There are actually at least 3 official web sites for this project. One is in australia who invented it and has a commercial version, and then there’s an free open source version, and yet another site for developers.

I am a new user and I want to write this before I forget it and while I am still in the learning process.

First – at this point I can say that I am going to LOVE this product and I want you all to know that because I’m about to say some critical things for the purpose – hopefully – that those who are designing and documenting this will improve Mambo.

And – I still don’t fully understand this sotware – and what I’m about to say reflects that. Again – I have gotten to the point of loving it – but almost gave up several times before I got there.

The admin interface is very much not intuitive. What I finally figured out is that the front page middle section is what you call a “blog”, and it is a blog that is very powerful – but it starts out as 1 column and then forks into two column leaving a person totally confused as to why this is and how to control it. There needs to be some sort of explanation of this concept of blog that is really lacking in the interface.

The menu called the “Frontpage Manager” doesn’t seem to actually manage the front page. It seems that what’s in the front page is related to creating front page menus which I haven’t entirely figured out yet.

Basically – the entire admin interface should be rewritten from scratch and done in a way that is intuitive. My learning experience is like it is with most Linux applications – a very steep learning curve and much harder than it needs to be.

I will admit that my meeds are somewhat different than that standard install. If the standard install is close to what you need then it would be easier than to do what I’m trying to do – create a magazine with sections as blog volumes.

If I may make a suggestion to the powers who control this. Gather up your developers and documentation people and host an event where you call on people who would be users of this product – or maybe college students – maybe 10 or so – and wire them up with a recording device and sit then down in front of 10 computers and have them install and learn the software. Encourage them to comment and curse as they learn and pay attention to their struggle. Video taping would also be good.

Then – go back want watch it and redesign the interface to eliminate the confusion and try again.

Like I said – this is a great product and it would be much more widely accepted if you fixed what I consider to be the weakest part – the admin interface. Please take this feedback to the right folks and looking forward to this software growing and becoming better in the future.

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