WebReference.com - Chapter 1 of Content Management Systems, from glasshaus (2/9)
Content Management Systems, Chapter 1: Foundations of CMS
An Ever-Changing World
Time doesn't stand still. A number of external factors make developing web sites more and more challenging. As we wait for final approval on the press release copy, technology presses on. Browser upgrades, plug-in incompatibilities, new wireless platforms, and the latest W3C recommendations come raining down. It's difficult to keep up with it all Â let alone implement best practices for your web site.
When web sites carry information that is more current than other media, it can change the flow of information in an organization. Previously, some web sites may simply have duplicated print publications in an online form. Now, those web sites drive the production of print documents. One site may now export the company's print product catalogue; another may produce the documents that an integrated voice response system reads to telephone callers.
Although this book is very web-focused, content management should not be applied to web sites alone. There are many paths and destinations for content, and your content management system should be able to support the paths and platforms you choose. Technology changes the way an organization creates and manages content Â it has also expanded the scope of the web development team, and raised the bar for the web professional.
Sometimes change forces its way onto your site. A search engine upgrade or adding a personalization feature to the site may have a wide impact. For instance, converting every HTML file on the site to a Java Server Page (JSP) could cause a few late nights.
As your company moves into new endeavors, it may run across new legal requirements in disclosing information about their products. A contract with a government agency may impose stricter accessibility requirements on your web site. Financial regulations may require certain types of disclaimers to be added to product pages. In manufacturing shops, ISO-9000-compliance requires you to be able to roll back your product sheets to earlier revisions.
Your organization may begin expanding its reach around the world and your web sites need to reflect this new diversity of language and culture. Being able to manage web sites in different languages, different currencies, and different cultures will certainly impact how you develop and plan a web site.
There is always a demand for new features or changes. Managers want to add press releases. Designers want to refresh the look and feel of the site. Usability experts want to fix the navigation. The legal section is talking about compliance to new accessibility laws. The backend geeks are suggesting an application server and new database for reliability. Finally, the CEO wants the logo to "do a rollover and match my favorite tie" (we're trying hard to ignore him).
Users, too, are becoming accustomed to features they've seen elsewhere Â on sites like Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) or Amazon (www.amazon.com), for instance. They have higher expectations, in terms of clear site navigation and a comprehensive search facility to find what they are looking for. They want to see what is new, what is popular, and what is relevant to them.
While the expectations rise and rise, the time frames get shorter and shorter. If we're going to keep up, we're going to have to utilize the best tools and processes available to us.
Success can raise expectations as well. A web site that launches and gets an enthusiastic response from its target audience can often propel an organization to create more web sites. You may find yourself creating multiple sites, with the requirement that they share content and stay in sync. The technical challenges have increased substantially, and the organization still expects the same or better rollout of the new sites.
The truth is, maintaining and growing web sites is hard work. It's not getting any easier, and web professionals and the organizations they work for are feeling the pain.
Created: August 22, 2002
Revised: August 22, 2002