Kansas City PBS was pleased to be included as one of the participants in the Bento 3.0 beta group. The timing was right inline with our search a new platform for our station website, which is currently on WordPress.
As the online content director for the station, my team and I had a vision for the next version of kcpt.org: Seamless integration with existing PBS digital content.
Our current station website rolled out nearly four years ago, and even though we have two full-time web developers, we have several other websites to maintain. In addition to our main station site, we have a digital magazine, a Triple-A radio station website, and an education project site. A move to Bento — we’re still working towards a mid-summer launch for our main site — presents an opportunity to free up resources while getting ‘back to basics’ with a PBS program content-first focus on our main station site.
Participating in the beta group was easy to fit into our schedules, with regular group calls and progress milestones. The team kept us updated on beta releases, bugs and fixes, and gave us time to collaborate with and learn from our colleagues. Project managers Amy Lust and Katie Wilson helped us prepare for site building with strategy discussions and homework in the weeks leading up to accessing the platform. And they were always responsive to specific questions, via email or the Slack channel.
Once we started building in Bento, we were impressed with the drag and drop ease of use in the back end and the resulting clean, updated looking pages on the front end. Building with the components really couldn’t be easier, although the near limitless possibility for homepage layout designs presented a bit of a challenge for me!
It has been informative to be in the loop on the technical development of the product by participating in providing feedback, and we’re looking forward to future releases and planned features. It’s been also interesting to see the wide range of local station approaches for using the same platform and basic tools.
What I’m most looking forward to in Bento is the ability to browse Media Manager for quick homepage updates. This feature will also allow us to show more of our recent local TV content.
I’m making Bento pages for core topics — food, arts, news and education — so that we can present PBS content alongside local and other TV-related content. With so much strong content from our locally-focused digital magazine, radio station and education sites, together with programs from Democracy Now! and Create TV, we think presenting them alongside PBS national programming on these landing pages will give visitors a sense of the variety we offer on topics they’re interested in, all while being easy for us to keep fresh and localized.
Beta group participants were invited to ‘Bento and Beyond,’ a day-long event held at PBS in February. Nothing can really replace in-person meetings! The SPI team created an agenda that allowed everyone to get to know more about each other, more about the design, thinking and plans behind Bento (and beyond) and provided learning opportunities on website management and measurement.
Kris Crosby, Jen Hinders, Lars Klores and Chris Koth took time out to share their work and the larger ideas behind it. Bento 3.0’s design has been well thought out and is part of a restructuring of the entire data model that encompasses COVE Media Manager, PBS.org and future digital potential. A strategy for better serving members and viewers is at the heart of all of the developments we’re beginning to see emerge as station products.
A couple of the presentations I thought were especially valuable were Dan Haggerty’s Analytics insights (so much is possible but what are you really trying to measure?) and Toanya Kessé and Matt Vogrin’s practical how-to-use Google DFP (which I find daunting).
I also truly appreciated Taryn Stewart sharing her decision making process for curating content on PBS.org, and the dashboards she uses to inform those decisions.
We’re taking a leap with Bento, moving out of the familiar, comfortable territory with our blog-based site. But as we’re working toward that move we are seeing more of the ‘big picture,’ and this project has been, for us, a great way to rethink how our station fits in with it.
Stay tuned for migration information and sign up for our upcoming webinar this month.