Why NASA Chose WordPress for Revamping Its Flagship Website

NASA's new website (image)

NASA has removed the beta label from the new nasa.gov website, which was launched on WordPress, replacing Drupal as the CMS. After a lengthy process, which required 18 months of active web development, data migration, and content building, NASA has emerged with modernized flagship and science websites, showcasing the innovation and discoveries that have defined the agency for more than 65 years.

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By Sarah Gooding – You can read this article in its entirety HERE on WP Tavern’s website

The multi-million dollar project began a few years ago when a combination of the IDEA Act and Drupal 7 EOL provided an opportunity for NASA to reconsider the CMS they were using for nasa.gov. Lone Rock Point, a WordPress.com VIP Gold Agency Partner, led the project, which began with a year of UX design and an evaluation of various enterprise CMS’s that would ultimately end up supporting 456 CMS users, 68,698 migrated pages, and 3,023 new landing pages. As part of the project, NASA’s website infrastructure was migrated from an Amazon Web Services environment to WordPress.com VIP.

“In earlier discovery phases of the project, content authors were were vocal that they were interested in a CMS that allowed them to break free of templates that were perceived to be rigid,” Lone Rock Point President J.J. Toothman said. “The block based authoring approach of Gutenberg is delivering on that and user testing showed that WordPress could provide that. Now that the site is live, the different types of landing pages being created with block based approach further validates that.”

NASA evaluated both proprietary and open source solutions, and Toothman said they took a high level look at over a hundred CMS platforms. They narrowed it down to four CMS’s – two were commercial and two were open source (WordPress and Drupal). The team completed high level prototyping and user evaluation on all four of the finalists, and used this data in the CMS selection process.

Toothman outlined a few of the factors that set WordPress apart from the others:

  • Access to resources. Simply put, there’s a huge community around WordPress. That community is extending WordPress in innovative ways; sharing knowledge and training for WordPress; and continuously building up WordPress skills amongst the community. That makes it easier for an organization like NASA to acquire support. There’s options for that. What was found with commercial CMS solutions is that, more often than not, NASA would have to go back to the original CMS vendor to find resources. That’s limited flexibility, which is undesirable for them.
  • A plugin ecosystem that delivered real time content analysis capabilities within the WordPress admin environment in the ares of SEO and accessibility. The fact that content could be analyzed by the author before it was published was significant.
  • Ease of use of the content authoring environment

“It’s a big win for open source,” Toothman said. “There were a number of CMS capabilities that would have been more time consuming to implement without previous work by others in the WordPress community.”

He cited the integration that the NASA WordPress site has with NASA’s image library at images.nasa.gov as one example. Content authors in the CMS can search for images in the library and include them in their content via an augmentation that was made to the WordPress media library. Human Made did some previous work with commercial digital asset management solutions that NASA was able to leverage for the images.nasa.gov integration.

NASA Goes All In on WordPress’ Block Editor

The block editor’s flexibility for authoring landing pages and breaking free of a rigid templating system was one of the most important factors in NASA’s selection of WordPress as a CMS. As part of the project, Lone Rock Point…

Read on…article continues HERE on WP Tavern’s website

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