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CMS Fundamentals

Basic CMS capabilities


From:

CMS Fundamentals

with James Williamson

Video: Basic CMS capabilities

One of the best ways to understand how a CMS works is to explore the basic capabilities that most of these systems share, and how they fit into typical workflows. This will give you a good idea of how using a CMS might fit into your projects or within your organization. First, let's start with an overview of a typical CMS workflow. Content creators, editors, and publishers access the CMS through a client, which is usually browser based. Content is entered into the CMS, edited, approved, and published based on organizational workflow.
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  1. 2m 44s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. What CMS means for this course
      1m 44s
  2. 22m 52s
    1. What is a CMS?
      2m 47s
    2. The evolution of CMSs
      4m 4s
    3. CMS types
      6m 7s
    4. Basic CMS capabilities
      5m 4s
    5. When is a CMS right for you?
      4m 50s
  3. 1h 23m
    1. Comparing CMSs
      4m 28s
    2. Core features to research
      4m 41s
    3. Commonly overlooked issues
      4m 12s
    4. Properly assessing needs
      4m 39s
    5. Knowing when to seek assistance
      4m 15s
    6. Choosing a CMS for designers
      4m 45s
    7. Choosing a CMS for organizations
      4m 12s
    8. The pros and cons of hosted solutions
      2m 58s
    9. Hosted solution examples
      5m 51s
    10. The pros and cons of open source solutions
      4m 36s
    11. Open source CMS examples
      7m 6s
    12. Proprietary CMSs
      7m 48s
    13. A closer look at Drupal
      5m 7s
    14. A closer look at Joomla!
      4m 0s
    15. A closer look at WordPress
      5m 33s
    16. Resources for comparing CMSs
      9m 2s
  4. 43m 58s
    1. What is an open source CMS?
      3m 4s
    2. What is a LAMP stack?
      2m 53s
    3. What are WebDAV and FTP?
      2m 39s
    4. What is MySQL?
      2m 24s
    5. WYSIWYG editors
      3m 56s
    6. Understanding users, groups, and permissions
      4m 12s
    7. What is metadata?
      5m 19s
    8. Understanding taxonomy
      3m 35s
    9. What is version control?
      4m 23s
    10. What are themes and templates?
      3m 30s
    11. What is SEO?
      4m 42s
    12. What are web analytics?
      3m 21s
  5. 36m 31s
    1. Content management as a process
      4m 38s
    2. Properly defining roles
      5m 3s
    3. Planning a content strategy
      4m 1s
    4. The importance of taxonomy
      5m 7s
    5. Controlling content lifecycle
      6m 22s
    6. Challenges for CMS migrations
      3m 45s
    7. Steps for migrating content
      4m 16s
    8. Avoiding distractions
      3m 19s
  6. 2m 24s
    1. Additional resources
      2m 24s

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CMS Fundamentals
3h 11m Beginner Apr 06, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In CMS Fundamentals, James Williamson defines content management systems (CMSs) and explains their role in web site development. The course demonstrates the different CMS solutions available today, including WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla; reviews CMS terminology and best practices; and shows how to develop a content management strategy. Guidelines are also included for evaluating a potential CMS, whether hosted or self-hosted, open source or proprietary, and choosing a CMS based on a specific need or focus.

Topics include:
  • Defining and understanding a CMS
  • Understanding taxonomy
  • Assessing an organization or company's needs
  • Comparing content management systems
  • Planning a content strategy
  • Controlling content lifecycle
  • Migrating between CMSs
  • Understanding users, groups, and permissions
  • Using web analytics
Subjects:
Web CMS Web Foundations
Author:
James Williamson

Basic CMS capabilities

One of the best ways to understand how a CMS works is to explore the basic capabilities that most of these systems share, and how they fit into typical workflows. This will give you a good idea of how using a CMS might fit into your projects or within your organization. First, let's start with an overview of a typical CMS workflow. Content creators, editors, and publishers access the CMS through a client, which is usually browser based. Content is entered into the CMS, edited, approved, and published based on organizational workflow.

This could range from a full team with various roles to a single individual. The content is in store within a relational database, and categories and metadata are used to help the CMS understand the content's relevance. Once it's approved, the content is then added to the site based on its category or the role that's been assigned to it. To assemble pages, the CMS uses templates, published content, and any modules such as calendars, polls, and forms that have been associated with specific pages.

Site navigation is typically built dynamically as pages are added based on content. That's the basic process of most CMSs. Let's take a closer look at some of the more common CMS capabilities and how they might differ from one CMS to another. Delegation is the ability to create multiple user groups and assign privileges based on group types. Controls vary from allowing you to set up complex group permissions containing authors, editors, administrators, and publishers, to only allowing one or two privilege levels.

Almost all CMSs allow you to limit privileges to some degree, so it's important to find one that has a group structure that fits your organization. Some CMSs also allow you to control the approval process through managed workflows that define the process of authoring, reviewing, and publishing content. Content editing is typically handled through forms, or a WYSIWYG, or What You See Is What You Get, editor. Most WYSIWYG editors resemble word processors and allow you to format text in a similar fashion.

Some CMSs allow in-line editing which allows users to edit the content directly on the page itself. And this option is particularly useful for non-technical users needing to make quick changes. How the CMS structures the content is a vital part of its functionality. Most systems will have an initial structure of sections and categories. In publishing terms, you can think of sections as pages and categories as identifying tags that explain the content's relevance. Many CMSs allow you to create section in category hierarchies allow you to extend the basic content structure into a more complex model.

Others limit you to a flat structure or limit the amount of categories you can use per unit of content. Although they often have different names based on the CMS you choose, templates serve the same purpose from system to system, no matter what they're called. And typically, these are basic HTML structures that serve as placeholders for your content and come with associated CSS files that control the presentation. The degree of template customization allowed varies widely from CMS to CMS. And some have fully exposed HTML and CSS that you can customize or even allow you to use your own pages.

Others have tightly controlled templates that are difficult to customize to one degree or another. A very common approach to creating pages is to assemble discrete page regions into a finished page rather than using a full-page template. This flexible approach makes it easy to build pages by swapping out regions such as headers, footers, and sidebars as needed, but can make customization more difficult as it can be hard to visualize how these elements work together in the final page. Another common capability for CMSs is the ability to add modules to your pages.

Here the terms vary widely, but whether the CMS is talking about plug-ins, extensions, or modules, they're usually referring to self-contained applications that extend the functionality of your site. These could be event calendars, polls and quizzes, forms, or ties into external services such as Google Maps. The power, abilities, and functionality of these modules vary widely from one CMS to another and often rely on the strength of the developer community in an open-source system. Finally, most CMSs feature some type of menu generation control.

Usually, they allow you to structure sections or pages in a way similar to building a site map. This structure will be used to generate menus that are placed on the page based on your settings or the temple structure. Now whether or not the menu's presentation and functionality can be customized varies largely based on the CMS itself. Some will allow you to build your own menus and will then update them automatically for you, while others restrict you to the system's default generated menus. Well, that's a brief look into some of the core features of most content management systems.

We'll take a closer look at some of those capabilities a little bit later on, as well as discuss the impact of these features might have in choosing a CMS for yourself.

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