Here at PBS, the sizzling heat of summer has ushered in a surge of news and updates about Project Merlin. Soon, you may be hearing the famous Arthurian wizard's name tossed around more than ever - but is your station ready for Merlin?
Although the project's name makes it sound like a dastardly plot to outfit PBS employees with flowing white beards, Project Merlin is actually a cutting-edge initiative to bring PBS into the next generation of online content distribution. PBS Interactive is currently gearing up to launch a newly redesigned PBS.org, which will allow localized users to simultaneously browse national and local station content.
As we get closer to the exciting launch of Project Merlin, the Station Products and Innovation team will be posting regular updates to this blog. For more information, please visit the Merlin/PBS Redesign resource page.
With the start of next week's Project Merlin Pilot, PBS is getting closer than ever to introducing stations to the Merlin Admin tool. The tool will serve as the backend of the project, allowing your station to publish articles, blogs, and other content to be featured on the new PBS.org.
As the launch date approaches, it's important for your station to start thinking about what content is best suited for Merlin publishing. Merlin should be thought of as a collection of editorial content that consolidates your station's best web media and makes it available to new users at PBS. The redesign should provide web users with a unique "PBS" experience.
Project Merlin will allow us to surface links to your content in real-time on the redesigned PBS.org. However, it is important to remember that not everything on your site should be submitted to Merlin. Hopefully, this introduction to the project will give you a better idea of what types of content should be submitted, as well as the best ways to present that content.
To make Merlin a true success, the system will need your station to include well-written headlines and high-quality images with your content as often as possible. Promos need to be concise with overtly obvious subject matter, so that users know exactly what they'll get when they click on your links. We want our users to have consistent and engaging experiences every time they return to PBS.org.
Examples of content that SHOULD be put into Merlin include unique editorial works, such as:
- Behind the scenes: Features about creating films, content
- Pages with video: Context should be provided on the page; no stand alone videos
- Other rich web content: Articles, essays, biographies, etc.
- Photo galleries and essays
- Interactives: Flash games and diagrams, timelines, etc.
We'll be refining these guidelines with the help of the Merlin Pilot stations, so stay tuned this summer for more details.
This post should give you a starting point for considering and evaluating your station's content. The SPI team wants to emphasize the value of local station content and is looking forward to using Merlin and the pbs.org redesign to drive more traffic to your station websites.
Keep your eyes on this blog for future updates and features about the Project Merlin initiative. In the meantime, check out the Merlin/PBS.org Redesign Resources for more information about the project.
(This article was updated for stations by Thomas Kennedy on June 23, 2010. Portions were written by Ashley Carufel on June 18, 2010)