Most software systems these days are created for use on the Internet or using web technologies. As such, the Web Team participates and contributes to almost every technology project undertaken at Burning Man. In addition to the continued maintenance and support for www.burningman.com, this group evaluates software-as-service tools, provides user support, conducts code and architecture reviews, and much more.
This past year we continued to move the more labor-intensive and time-consuming pieces of burningman.com to Worpress as a lightweight content-management system (CMS). This enables content publishers to update and control their own limited content updates, which shortens turnaround time and allows the Web Team more time to explore new ideas and long term strategies.
We did this for the new slideshow widget on the home page, the Theme Camps pages, the Media Coverage page, the Support-A-Project page, the 2010 AfterBurn Report, and made some refinements to the Reno Preparation pages.
The homepage widget control allows the Communications team to pick and choose which blog posts to feature, as well as specifying an excerpt and featured image. One of our volunteer software developers set up the widget to be highly customizable which helps it fit into the web site design.
The Theme Camps pages were built to replace an extremely manual process that relied on text documents. Now, a direct XML export from the Theme Camp database is imported into the CMS and converted into 27 separate HTML pages. There is also an administrative interface that enables the team to make immediate changes to the content.
This same model is used for the Media Coverage page. In this case, though, the content is coming from a Meltwater feed that is reviewed before publishing. Similarly, the Support-A-Project page is edited using a WYSIWYG editor in the CMS and the content is then pulled into burningman.com using the same methods.
For the expansion of the Reno pages, a stand-alone version of the CMS is used to edit the pages but not publish to the main site. After content is reviewed, it is exported into files that become include files for the site. This is a bit slower process than the dynamic version, but it provides a much higher level of control.
Since the Reno project was so successful, we applied the same techniques to get the 2010 Afterburn pages done and online in a very short time.
There were several transitions into and out of the Web Team this year. After many years providing devoted and dynamic support, our main user interface developer and web designer moved on to adventures in graduate school abroad. In the summer of 2011, anticipating numerous additional websites and lots of time-sensitive front end development work on the horizon, a Web Producer and a LAMP stack Developer were brought in just in time to pull of a heroic effort architecting, designing and implementing the website for the emerging Burning Man Project non-profit.
The design concept was to subtly engage the user to recognize the roots of Burning Man with the San Francisco skyline while showing our broader reach by incorporating Rock City and iconic regional, art, and architectural silhouettes. The main approach to The Burning Man Project site was to create a site that is user friendly, clean, not cluttered, and built with a solid framework to be scalable and eventually migrate to a responsive mobile web version.
Michael Barbarino, Silvia Stephenson, and Heather Gallagher