One(!) of my current projects is about to have some web development done prior to being built in Web Solutions Management Server (previously RedDot CMS) which has started me thinking about some of the lessons I have learnt through this process previously. Passing these tips on to whomever is doing the web development, whether it be yourself, a colleague or an outside agency should make your job a lot easier!
Web Solutions Management Server is *not* an IDE and you will only frustrate yourself trying to use it as one. Use your favourite tools and construct a plain HTML site first. Doing so provides numerous additional advantages:
Obviously not an issue if you are using an agency unfamiliar with Web Solutions Management Server.
Take your CSS file(s) and extract all of the background images into a single CSS file. Why? Because all of these will become image placeholders in the CMS. (In fact, anything that will become a placeholder should be in this file). Background image links will rarely change in the iterative process, but your CSS probably will – and this way you should be able to simply copy and paste over the other templates without worrying where the changes actually occurred or re-instating multitudes of image placeholders…
You are building an author editable site, not a static brochure site right? So you should check the design for edge cases in the content:
Also, you should check that the order of the content doesn’t break anything or look wrong either. All of these issues will soon become apparent in your implementation. All are much more easily discovered and rectified before you start building in the CMS.
Why buy one when you can buy two for twice the price? Incorporating the editing interface into a second version of your plain HTML site has a number of advantages:
By content areas I mean those that will later become text placeholders. This will allow you to style the content areas independently via class attributes on the DIV tags. You should probably style the DIV and P text the same, in case your P tags go missing. Make sure these content areas are styled based on the output of the Rich Text Editor or you will be fighting an uphill battle.
While it would be nice to be able to hold off implementation until all of the web development is complete, I have yet to see this happen. If nothing else, the implementation itself often leads to changes in the design. Rather than fighting change, here we at least try to minimise and control it.
Do you have any pre CMS build web development tips to share?
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