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The Site of Big Shoulders Launches SOBS 5.0

Published Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Site of Big Shoulders is pleased to announce the launch of the "5.0" version of its Web site at, a major upgrade of the site's design and platform and step forward for the organization.

Since 1996, The Site of Big Shoulders has led the forefront of online arts publishing with a Web site that employed the best contemporary technologies to present Chicago arts content with high production values.  When we started, we were using plain text editors for HTML markup and a Web browser to preview the results – our average user had an 8-bit display set at a resolution of 640 by 480 pixels.  Through the late 1990s and early 2000s, we updated our design and layout to match contemporary online publishing standards, and HTML editors like Dreamweaver made updating the site easier.  However, still operated as a "static" Web site that required lots of work to update and manage.

This started to change when moved to the Joomla 1.5 platform in 2007, allowing us to use this "content management system" (or "CMS") to mange the presentation and publication of site content.  Although our underlying Web site platform was now a dynamic system, many design and static content elements remained from earlier versions of The Site of Big Shoulders, linked into our site, but remaining outside the CMS.

SOBS 5.0 brings all of our content into the CMS, making it available for searching and better online display, as well as integrating with our Web site analytics, which will allow us to track all of our site content more accurately.  To support our high standards for quality visual design and custom display of site features, SOBS 5.0 integrates new bespoke template frameworks that are especially tailored for our publishing needs, as well as updated software for better display of images and multimedia.  SOBS 5.0 has been upgraded to run on the latest version of Joomla (2.5.1), providing a wealth of additional capabilities and a software platform on a long-term-support release.

We have also updated the look of, including a new masthead design, new core fonts, an adjusted layout and a new, full-screen background image (photographed by Robert Kameczura).  Many of our legacy editorial features which have been migrated into the CMS may present a slightly adjusted display, but all of the content has been retained and presented in a very accessible format.  

All of this work was conducted over the course of several months and many hours by The Site of Big Shoulders' all-volunteer staff.  Moving foward, we intend to leverage the capabilities of the CMS to streamline the production and publication of editorial content, add additional site features and capabilities, streamline our content submissions systems, and make it easier for staff members to participate in publishing the site.