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Web Design: Determining your Content Management Needs

Did you fail to complete your content inventory and itemization tasks, because you thought you had too much content? This is usually a good indication that you’ll need the services of a trusty content management system (affectionately known as a CMS).

You should now have at least some idea of how much content you have. The following checklist will help you determine what you’ll need in order to manage all that content.

Assess your needs for a content management system. Did you fail to complete your content inventory and itemization tasks, because you thought you had too much content? This is usually a good indication that you’ll need the services of a trusty content management system (affectionately known as a CMS). The purpose of a CMS is to automate content publication tasks, and manage content for you. No longer will you have to manually change and save ten different HTML files every time you alter a link or update your services page—your CMS will do it all, and quickly too!
Consider using a CMS if:
Your web site is relatively large (15 pages or more).
  • Content will need to be updated regularly.
  • Content will need to be archived or categorized.
  • Content will be updated by people who have limited web authoring experience.
  • Content will be updated by different people (a CMS will help enforce consistency of content across the site).
  • Your site will require some dynamic—or changing—components, such as a What’s New or news section.

Assess your needs for an ecommerce system.
If you’re planning to run an online store, you’ll need some sort of system that will allow you to sell products or services through your site. An ecommerce system can automate everything you need to run your online store, providing you with the ability to add and update products in your product catalogue, accept and manage online payments, maintain customer and order information, and more. If you’ve checked this option, see Appendix A for ecommerce-related checklists.

Assess your needs for HTML, XHTML, and/or CSS skills.
As I mentioned previously, these markup skills are basic prerequisites for anyone who needs to create and maintain a web site. If you’ve opted not to use a CMS for your web site, it’s likely that these skills will be necessary for anyone who needs to add to or update the site’s content. Even if you have decided to use a CMS, HTML knowledge will help you to understand the workings of your web site, and enhance your usage of the CMS.

Assess your needs for web authoring tools.
If you have limited HTML knowledge, and want to save time, web authoring tools such as Adobe’s Dreamweaver 8 (formerly from Macromedia) or Microsoft FrontPage can help you to manage your web site’s content and layout efficiently. If you have a significant amount of content, but have chosen not to use a CMS, web authoring tools provide useful features that can help you manage the site’s content.

Consider whether you need programming and database administration
skills.
Unless you’re planning to build your own ecommerce or content management system, you probably won’t need serious programming or database administration skills. If you’re using existing systems that will require heavy customization before they can be integrated with your web site, you should consider recruiting or developing at least a moderate programming skill-base, and gaining an understanding of database administration.

If you intend to build a specialized system, research the latest technologies. In particular, consider PHP and ASP.NET for the development of web based applications, SQL and Oracle servers for storing data, and MySQL for database administration.Building custom systems is beyond the scope of this book, but you may want to check out Kevin Yank’s Build Your Own Database Driven Website Using PHP & MySQL, along with the other beginners’ technology titles published by SitePoint.

Assess your needs for image editing tools.
If you’re going to be working with images, you’ll probably require some sort of image editing tool because, more often than not, you’ll find that images in their raw form are rarely optimized for web use. Image editing tools make it easy to optimize and manage the images you use on your web site. As we saw in the section called “How Much is a Picture Worth?” There are many programs that allow you to create and edit imagesHealth Fitness Articles, most of which have built-in batch-processing capabilities. These tools can be invaluable to those who manage a site’s content.

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