When I was reading about the launch of the new Healthcare.gov site and the very GDS approach they have taken I found myself taking a closer look at the company credited with driving the development work. Development Seed are a particularly interesting company for me – not only are they deep in to data visualisation developments they also provided the front-end to the very popular statistics portion of the Worldbank website. The case study they provided about that work was a bit of an eye opener – especially as the work they did is already a couple of years old and yet feels like a decade beyond what we have at the moment.
As they talked about in relation to the Healthcare.gov launch they are also a team that has moved from being a very successful Drupal house to one that now advocates a ‘CMS-free’ approach.
Over the last couple of years I have become interested in this idea as I have become more and more frustrated with off-the-shelf CMS products – especially with their lack of attention to the user experience for authors/editors.
I remember Mike Nolan from Edge Hill University advocating his ‘anti-CMS’ approach a couple of years ago (though they have moved to a mix of that & WordPress now I think) and I believe that to all intents and purposes the GOV.UK and Inside Government publishing engines fall in to this idea of ‘CMS-free’ as well. [though I think it is freedom from a product as it seems to me what is being built is pure content management?]
It seems pretty much the approach that Hawaii.gov took as well where they coined the term stynamic (static+dynamic) for the way their system operated.
Performance is clearly a big plus of this approach as for the Healthcare.gov site they are talking about saving 10s of servers and it was clearly a major factor in the Hawaii thinking. Given the huge savings that GOV.UK is already demonstrating I have to assume that is the same there as well.
In all my years of trials and tribulations with CMS systems all I have ever really wanted was a system that was just complex enough to do what I needed it to do and just simple enough to do the same. Maybe this is a way of making that happen?