A Brief History of Mighty-Site: Orbit’s Content Management Sytstem
For ten years, Orbit Media Studios has offered a content management system (CMS) for our clients’ websites. Mighty-Site is a homegrown, feature-rich CMS that presents clients with the ability to easily edit the content of their websites.
Putting Clients in Control
A decade ago we noticed a trend that business marketers wanted the freedom to do this, but most other web design firms charged hourly for simple content changes. In 2001, there were few affordable packaged solutions we could afford to offer our clients, and open-source options were not, in our opinion, user-friendly. They were great for “webmasters,” but they were too complicated for amateur website administrators.
So, I decided to develop Orbit’s own content management system.
The system had to be easy for clients to use to minimize support calls.
- It had to be simple.
- It had to be secure.
- It had to be flexible so custom features did not require custom back-end development.
The first version of our content management system, called SiteBot, was released in 2003. We included SiteBot in all our proposals and priced our website services no higher than the average Chicago firm. This strategy provided us with a big advantage over our competitors, and business started to grow.
The Orbit Baby is Born: Mighty-Site
By 2005, WordPress, Drupal and several other open-source CMS’s had gained attention, but they were still meant for developers and webmasters – not marketers. As websites with a CMS were a standard requirement, we wanted to offer something noticeably better packaged and more powerful to make an impression on prospective clients.
Orbit released the second major version of its content management system and branded it “Mighty-Site”. Brand and usability were the primary motivators for the upgrade. This build was a team effort involving Orbit’s new design team and new PHP programmers. Inspired by a 1940’s ad, I illustrated my second daughter – who just learned to stand – swapped a rattle for a barbell, and the Mighty-Site baby was born!
By 2006 we had more opportunities to design and develop ecommerce websites and needed an out-of-the box codebase to offer. Ecommerce platforms were highly competitive and offered many features, but we believed we could design and build something better. Utilizing Mighty-Site’s flexibility, it was relatively easy to expand its capabilities for product catalogs, coupons, shipping rules, sales tax, and everything else that makes ecommerce complicated.
Usability => Money
At this point, developing the website was the greater challenge, but we focused on the aspects that made clients money – Design and Usability. Ecommerce sales conversion was a hot topic, and we believed we could deliver a more user-friendly process than off-the-shelf software. For example: to reduce confusion, website users placed items into their cart without needing to leave the product screen, and to prevent cart abandonment, we designed the one-page checkout form and never required a customer to create an account.
Most ecommerce projects needed something customized for their customers. Because the developers of our websites were also the developers of Mighty-Site, we had a cost advantage over random developers enhancing random open-source codebases. Thus, our clients were able to invest in custom built ecommerce sites without absorbing expenses for enhancements to the content management system.
Experience gained from ecommerce development created opportunities for us to offer more complicated and custom front-end website applications. New clients were taking advantage of our services to create websites highly integrated with their normal business operations:
- Membership Directories
- Event Calendars
- Ecommerce for Event Registration
- Location Searches with Google maps
- Custom products for publishers and travel agents
- Customer Relationship Management
Mighty-Site never needed customizations to handle the administration of the custom data. However, there was an unforeseen consequence to the complicated data architecture: Mighty-Site was reaching usability and technical limitations on the amount of data it could effectively serve per screen. We also needed the ability to quickly expand its feature set with custom management applications and various reports.
In 2008, Orbit went to the drawing board with a new design and development team to plan the third major release of the content management system – Mighty-Site 2.0. The motivators for improvement were Speed, Organization, Expandability and, of course, Usability. Mighty-Site 2.0 was released in 2009 and is still in use today.
We have launched at least 150 websites with this system. What is more remarkable is that many clients from the early years have upgraded their sites to the new version of Mighty-Site, usually with a website redesign. The results are even better! As time advances, so does technology, and Orbit, for the sake of our clients, is right there with it.