Web Content Management Systems
Your web content management system : other things to consider
Your web content management system, as we've explained elsewhere on this site, should be tailored to your present needs and be capable of adapting to your future needs. However, most companies share a number of requirements. This page lists the basic features you should look for in a web content management system.
The whole point of a web content management system is to be able to put up your pages easily, without having to go through the IT department every time you want to upload something. To achieve this, you need a system that is easily accessible to all those who are going to use it, whether that's a handful of content writers or a single editor. However, you don't want unauthorized people publishing pages on your site. Your web content management system should strike a balance between ease of access and security. In practice, this usually means a system whereby authorized users are given login names and passwords.
If you're looking for a more complex system, you may want to have different levels of access, or staggered permissions. For example, you might want to allow design staff to have access to the page templates, but only allow writers to upload content using existing templates. You might also want to prevent anyone except the administrator from inserting hyperlinks. A system of staggered permissions would make this possible.
Most web content management systems have an in-built template for uploading pages. The best of these templates work like a word-processing system with a graphical interface for formatting. The writer's formatting choices are then converted into HTML before the pages are uploaded.
Scheduling (also known as web life-cycle management)
Most of the information on a website isn't meant to be there for ever. Whether it's product details for a business or the latest news from an organization, most information has a sell-by date. A good content management system will allow you to time out pages, usually by selecting begin and end dates during the uploading process. For example, if you are posting June's newsletter, you might select June 1 st as your begin date and June 30 th as your end date. The system will then make the page viewable only during the month of June. This kind of automatic life-cycle management makes it much easier to keep track of pages and avoid mistakes.
Mistake-proofing (also known as idiot-proofing)
No amount of training and planning can stop people making the occasional mistake, but a good web content management system will have certain features to minimize the effects of those mistakes. For example, a content writer might highlight the whole of the text just written before absent-mindedly pressing the backspace key. A good system will have an "Undo" command which allows them to undo that action and recover the lost text. A "Save and continue" feature is also helpful for avoiding lost text. Of course, most word-processing programs already have such features, so if you ask writers to work offline and save their work using good word-processing software before cutting and pasting it onto the site, you will avoid this kind of problem. However, if staff are writing directly onto the upload template, you will need the web content management system to have features that minimize mistakes.
Some content management systems check that your HTML is valid before uploading the pages. If yours doesn't do this, you will need to use an online validator - there are plenty out there. Otherwise your pages may not display correctly in certain browsers.