Digital Products & Services
From Whiteboard to Web, a Bento 3.0 Success Story
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In preparation for the launch of Bento 3.0, PBS Digital began a beta group consisting of stations not previously using Bento to build a site from scratch with the goal of launching that site. The group consisted of thirteen stations. Ray Walters, Television Operations Support Engineer from KMOS participated and was the first station to launch on Bento 3.0. In the coming weeks we will have more information about Bento migration and upcoming training opportunities. 

Ray Walters | Television Operations Support Engineer | KMOS-TV

Stop me if any of this sounds familiar to you when it comes to your station’s website:

  1. You need an easy way to rapidly create content pages that actually look good;
  2. You need a way to decentralize content creation to the rest of your staff so that the responsibility doesn’t rest with one person, thus one point of failure;
  3. You need an easy way to tap into PBS Digital's product and service offerings like COVE, Merlin and Passport;
  4. You need a way to allow users to easily donate and become members; 
  5. You need a fresh start to your site, giving you the ability to implement lessons you’ve learned when it comes to bringing content to the web; and 
  6. You need it all now.

It certainly sounded familiar to the staff here at KMOS, because these were all issues that we had identified during our journey of learning about creating an excellent web presence for our station. 

The good news for us here at KMOS and you and the staff at your station is that because of the hard work of the people at PBS Digital, we have a solution that provides for all of the items above in the form of Bento 3.0. While still a work in progress, the new 3.0 release of the Bento platform provides a powerful web publishing tool for PBS stations. 

Our journey with the KMOS website has been a bit of a long one. From a small standalone server running a static set of information pages to a Bento 2.0 site that we created in an over-complicated fashion, we had learned a tremendous amount of information from our experiences, and really needed to do a whole-site refresh to re-align our web presence towards our station’s digital goals. So when the opportunity arose to be a part of the beta pilot group for Bento 3.0, KMOS jumped at the chance as it would provide a platform to start from scratch and do things right. 

Our development process for the Bento 3.0 site centered around the singular idea that our GM put forth to us, to make an online “marketplace” for all things KMOS. Unpacking that a bit, we came up with the following things that we needed to be successful in meeting this goal:

  1. All content should be no more than one click away. 
  2. PBS KIDS content should be front and center rather than buried behind a menu system. 
  3. Users should be able to easily donate and become members. 
  4. Navigation should be clear and not convoluted. 
  5. Users should be provided a “one-stop” shop for our original content offerings. 
  6. Users should be able to leverage content from Passport, Cove and Merlin seamlessly. 
  7. Site content updates need to be decentralized so there is not one point of failure on updates. 
  8. The site needed to be able to leverage Google Analytics. 
  9. The site needed to be able to leverage underwriting opportunities with Google DFP 
  10. The site needed to be dynamic with front page content being kept relevant and fresh. 
  11. The site needed to look clean and professional. 
  12. The site needed to be responsive for mobile users, since our analytics have shown that most visitors are using mobile devices to access 

With these key indicators of a successful site in place we began our work not on a computer, but on a whiteboard with various staff members. We sat down and sketched out our entire site using a couple of dry erase markers, a camera and about 4 hours of meeting time. You might be asking yourself “How in the world were they able to plan out an entire site in just 4 hours?” It’s a valid question with a very simple answer. We had access to the Bento 3.0 framework and it’s powerful page layout editor. 

The new editor in Bento 3.0 gives you a specific set of features, layout guides and components, making it incredibly easy to plan pages while at the same time providing balance and flexibility in design choice. Because of this we were able to go to our staff and provide them a list of design options that gave them choice while still maintaining a linear workflow for those of us whose job it was to transfer the whiteboard plan to the actual Web. This allowed us to rapidly design the new KMOS web presence in a way that satisfied all of our milestone goals listed above as well as gave us design choices to avoid a cookie-cutter look and feel. With the planning and sketching done, we were able to switch quickly to getting the pages and full site built.

As far as the actual development work of the site and its content, this proceeded just as rapidly as the whiteboarding process, albeit in a relative fashion. Where in the past it would take us days and even weeks to develop pages and content, Bento 3.0 allowed us to create fully populated show pages complete with inline video playlists in literally minutes. The interface to work with layouts and content is intuitive and easy-to-understand. Page previews were a huge help to seeing progress and making changes on the fly.

From planning to implementation we estimated that running on Bento 3.0 took us between 35 and 40 hours to create and launch. This is an incredibly fast turnaround time that is obviously very exciting for us. PBS Digital has created a platform that is both powerful and easy-to-learn and use in Bento 3.0, a technological feat that isn’t easy on the scale that it’s working with. We’re looking forward to seeing how the platform continues to evolve with new features and formatting. Bento 3.0 FTW!