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Image 1Markets and Ideas - Website Editability

All of the websites that I work on are editable, however, often the degree of editability can vary depending upon the requirements. Often there are tradeoffs between making a website easy to edit and maintain without limit and preserving the basic design and structural consistency. With too much editability a website soon begins to look like each page was designed by a different graphic designer. With too little editability the editors will be frustrated with the limitations.

I have found that an excellent compromise is what I call Section-Based editability. Think of each page as being made of a series of stacking sections - one above the other. There are a handful of section types that allow text and images to be intermingled and to support links and downloadable files. The editor can create any number of pages that they wish and add as many different sections to each page as they wish. Pages and sections can be easily rearranged. The sections adhere to the basic styles determined by the graphic designer. So while each page can look different with different combinations of sections the website remains visually consistent across all pages.

There are some types of pages that work better using what I call Record-Based editability. Examples of these pages might be News or Events pages. In cases like these it is often better for the editor to think of the content as a set of individual records. For example news records might have separate fields for a date, title, a short description, a long description and one or more images. When the page is displayed it might show the data sorted by date, or with some items automatically moved to an archive version of the page upon expiration. Of course these pages still follow the design specified by the graphic designer.

Finally there are often pages that just have to be customized such as product or gallery pages and like all pages - they need to follow the format determined by the graphic designer of course.

I never use third-party off-the-shelf foreign packaged code like wordpress or joomla. These static packages are enormously comprehensive - but at the price of being enormously complex for your clients to use as well. The biggest complaint that I hear about the third-party WYSIWYG editors is that clients are faced with the task of essentially pasting in the equivalent of a word document of text, colour and images. Their websites immediately start looking like a different designer designed each page. Links soon become inconsistent and their websites soon become unmanageable. Many of my new projects came from websites that were built using these do-it-yourself editors - and then Iend up rebuilding them properly using my methods.

What do the admin pages look like? Ah that is another advantage. They look exactly like the rest of the pages on the website. They use the same page template. The owner never leaves their website to edit their pages and the editability is simple and intuitive enough that no additional help or training is necessary for them to maintain their website.

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