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Bento Nation: WNIN Redesigns with Bento

WNIN's new website powered by Bento
By: Jen Carter, PBS Digital

Welcome to our next installment in the Bento Nation Series. Last week we shared with you our conversation with WMHT's Mary Gribulis and Stephanie Del Belso. This week we are bringing to you our talk with Jacob Johnson, Web & New Media Producer at WNIN, a dual-licensee station in Indiana. WNIN was the first to launch a site fully-hosted on Bento (right). Since their initial launch, they have greenlighted Healthier Evansville (below), a Bento microsite geared towards showcasing resources to help make their community more active, healthy and informed.

Read on to learn more about his experiences, and be sure to visit both of WNIN's websites.

1. A few of your station's staff attended a Bento Implementation Training (B.I.T.) recently. What sparked WNIN's interest in Bento?
The TV and Radio department heads were sent to the B.I.T. training to learn how to use Bento as an re-design option. While they were looking for solutions to replace their old Joomla-powered site, which was beginning to show its age, we were actively looking for a replacement as well. Of all the options that were considered, the two that stood out the most were NPR’s Core Publisher and PBS’s Station Bento. Thanks to its open nature, Bento demonstrated the most potential for managing both television and radio content, which is an essential feature for a dual-licensee station.

WNIN's Healthier Evansville microsite
2. Your site migration and launch process was less than ideal. Could you speak to what that experience was like? 
...We received word that our host was going to be closing its doors, and that we needed to find a new place to house our site [sound familiar #localPBS?]. As a cost-saving measure, the decision was made to migrate directly to the Bento. I was able to put one week of work into our new site before our host’s servers were taken down, and we rapidly switched the WNIN.org domain to point to our fledgling Bento site. For Bento’s part, the transition went quite smoothly...

3. How did you continue building on your site after the initial launch? How have you grown your site since you’ve launched? 
I’m pretty sure that WNIN.org could win some award for being the most hacked together website on the Bento network. Since the first week that WNIN was using Bento, I have been using Smart Snippets to override the default template design and functionality. On top of that, I have been focusing on pulling in content from the NPR API. My latest project (now irrelevant thanks to Explorer) has focused on converting the basic Bento template to adapt to smartphone screen sizes.

4. As a dual-licensee, what were the challenges you faced using Bento?
...As I mentioned above, Bento comes with no official support for NPR content out-of-the-box [at this time]. Fortunately, there is the ability to extend sites using Smart Snippets, so I was able to put together code for our livestream and for a feed of NPR content relatively quickly.

5. If you could give any one piece of advice to stations thinking of a full site migration, what would it be? 
If you have the opportunity to take your time, then do so. There is no rush to get onto Bento. Slow down, audit your current site, and see if you need to adapt your online strategy for today’s market. This is your chance to make your website more incredible than ever before, so take full advantage of it.

6. If you had to describe Bento in 140 characters what would you say? 
Bento has captured the balance between power and elegance. It is easy to use, yet it can be customized and modified to an incredible extent.

Bento Nation is an on-going series that features pub media stations and the many ways they are using Bento to meet their digital needs. 

If you wish to use Bento for your site, please visit http://bento.pbs.org for more information.