- A healthy mix between managed service and customization
- Amend CMS is easy to use built with high client staff turnover in mind
- Custom, bespoke design and live support
- Higher pricing for custom work
- Advanced Rich Text formatting issues have been a problem in the past
- Advanced layouts or advanced form editing is possible in Amend, but usually requires assistance from support
Combining years of experience in the Senate with the technological expertise of the private sector, CreativEngine offers member offices a product unlike any other.
Websites & Amend CMS
The technical team at CreativEngine works with a new client office during a typical site design process of three months. CreativEngine designs and builds the site to their client’s specifications. After site launch Amend CMS facilitates user-generated content – though clients can still engage CreativEngine to develop custom features or assist with advanced design and development tasks. Amend has elements to produce press releases, receive office requests via customized forms, host static content, and create web experiences for constituents.
As with all Senate and House approved CMS systems, Amend can transmit constituent form data to pre-existing constituent relationship management tools. Additionally, Google Analytics and Webmaster tools can be integrated with the website to track site audience metrics and SEO. Google Analytics has built-in visualizations that can be displayed upon entering the Amend CMS. Of course, using Google Analytics or any external analytics tool comes with increased privacy risk and offices have to opt for the use of external analytical tools.
Creating content & ‘Body Builder’
The Amend CMS features text editing, photo galleries, photo editing, media repositories, and integrations with most mainstream social networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Medium) for a modern web experience.
For example, creating a press release for publication is similar to creating a blog post on a WordPress site. You have a dedicated text field, rich editing features, and other open-source tools to create the post. Upon publishing, you can also edit URL slugs, toggle tags and keywords, add images and draft social media posts.
The real highlight of the Amend system is CreativEngine’s ‘Body Builder’ tool. Compare this tool to Wix, which features a drag-and-drop visual editor. With dozens of pre-formatted content blocks (images, text blocks, formats), Body Builder is the most user-friendly web editing tool on Capitol Hill.
A universal problem: advanced rich text formatting
During our demo, Holmes discussed how CreativEngine has contended with typical web formatting issues in the past. Early on, Amend would have difficulty properly registering formatting from platforms like Outlook and Microsoft Word, which are tools frequently used by offices.
This is more of a universal problem with web editors, but it can be difficult to do advanced formatting when copying and pasting from Outlook.
CreativEngine’s solution was to implement a set of custom format scrubbing and conversion tools which are automatically applied when a user pastes into a text field. This also was the reason for the development of the Body Builder. For day to day editing and content posting the rich text editor is easy to use and works well, but for more advanced layouts it makes things much easier to use the drag and drop Body Builder.
Senate websites typically range between $20,000-$30,000 depending on the project and the site features. This includes custom design mockups, revisions, consulting, data import and normalization, constituent form setup and routing, development and training. Timelines vary but can take as little as two months while some projects can take up to a year. House websites range between $10,000-$20,000.
What we think
We’re impressed with CreativEngine’s Amend CMS, their customer support, and mission. No web content management system is perfect though. There can be issues with advanced formatting in some instances or a need for customers to hire CreativEngine for more advanced edits, but the response time and adaptation to resolving these issues speak volumes.