In 2008, The CMS Connection was launched not as a blog or news site, but as a quarterly live Meetup event, downtown Chicago, Illinois. The 3 hour meetup was free, and it included lunch. It was created for web designers and developers, software vendors and consultants to share information, tips and success stories of how they used their CMS to solve real-ife business problems.
The CMS Connection events were created and hosted by John and Linda Coonen, partners in a digital marketing agency, called The Coffee Group. A free lunch was offered (thanks to sponsors Arc Technology Group and Aluent Group), and the space was generously provided by DePaul University's Chicago technology center, in the Loop. The event attracted about 100 people quarterly to meet over the lunch hour, for several hours in learning and business sessions. They were designed NOT as pitch sessions (like so many "free lunch" meetings), but as hands-on problem solving meetings for people who needed real-world assistance.
The quarterly CMS Connection event brought in people to share what was new and changing, compare notes, especially between the "big three" open source CMSs: WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. While the platforms were (and are) different, the business challenges were the same.
Attendees at The CMS Connection meetings learned a lot about how to solve business problems, using the right tools for the job. They also learned that while on the surface, each CMS seemed to share the same attributes, in reality, each technology truly had its own vastly different DNA, and its own specific strengths and shortcomings. The CMS Connection was the perfect place to drop the cheerleader/evangelist act, and quickly focus on how to best solve immediate challenges facing members of the group.
Folks who also attended CMS-specific user groups all met at the CMS Connection to compare notes, share business cards and make sure we were all on top of what was coming next in the CMS tech-business realm. We also planned each year, one of The CMS Connection's quarterly meetings would be held at the CMS Expo Learning and Business Conference, a 3-day annual gathering for CMS pros, held since 2008 in nearby Evanston, Illinois.
In 2010, The Coffee Group moved The CMS Connection Online, specifically to provide attendees of CMS Expo a place to connect before, during and after the event. Over 1,300 members of The CMS Connection originally became part of the CMS Connection due to their attendance at The CMS Expo Learning and Business Conference.
In 2011, the site added blog content, and expanded its online grouping and forum capabilities, as well as a professional directory.
In 2012, the CMS Connection moved off the CMS Expo site to its own domain. The professional directory was expanded, to help people compare and choose CMSs that are best suited for their particular applications. Over 300 blogposts were created to cover various CMSs.
In 2013, we re-designed The CMS Connection to make the site easier to navigate, and less cluttered. We also streamlined its focus, zeroing in on CMS-related news and views. While the "community" aspects were an interesting experiment, it wasn't heavily used, as users had more than enough connectivity via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. So, that social networking function of the service was postponed, opting to focus all attention on providing quality, focused CMS content. In 2013, The CMS Connection grew to over 1,600 articles, on 28 different CMSs.
In 2014, The CMS Connection added 8 new contributors, including the addition of Bryan Ruby as the CMS Connection's Managing Editor. Bryan is well-known in the CMS Community as the founder of the very popular CMS Report. John Coonen remained as Publisher and editor, helping to curate articles from various CMSs and technology resources. Over 4,000 CMS-related posts were added to the CMS Connection.
In 2015, the site architecture and hosting environment went through a major upgrade, which effectively improved performance of the site by over 300%. More changes are underway to further improve performance and SEO optimization, making The CMS Connection an even more relevant resource for technologists and business pros. Over 3,000 articles were added to the CMS Connection in 2015.
Managing Editor Bryan Ruby stepped down to focus on his full-time position at the National Weather Service, as well as his own successful blog, the CMS Report. The CMS Connection continues to stream CMS Report articles.
At the end of 2015, the site went dark for just over 30 days as John Coonen, the site's owner, took a break. The obsession with CMS returned, and John ramped the site back up; but this time, with fewer brands, and sharper focus.
2016 and Beyond: The Future of The CMS Connection
The site will continue to offer curated and original content about the CMS Community's leading brands. Your suggestions are welcome. Please send your thoughts to John Coonen, The CMS Connection, john at cms connection dot com. Thank you!