How We Got Here
Before we moved to a CMS, web maintainers were able to design their websites, sometimes with the assistance of Web Services for website layout:
- Full control: Maintainers control website layout and content
- Adobe Dreamweaver
- Microsoft Frontpage
- Mozilla Composer
- Partial control: Maintainers control content in an editable region on each webpage
- Adobe Dreamweaver
- Adobe Contribute
|Three editable regions on one of the first |
page layouts made available in Cascade.
Our solution moved us into Cascade Server where web maintainers have control over smaller editable regions of their web pages. We started out very basic, since users were already used to a large editable region on each page and called us to help update the navigation. Many of them had full control of their websites before, so they had access to do much of what they did before, however, not every web maintainer is tech savvy. We wanted to give our web maintainers more control without making them learn how to program a web page, a simplified approach to content updating and web page creation.
|Multiple editable regions are available in modular pages, |
however, depending on the programming needed,
Web Services has to maintain specialized modules.
- frequently asked questions (FAQ)
- faculty/staff listings
- news listing
- many, many, many more
The Need to Change CourseEach new page we created made building a new website a longer process. What pages do the web maintainers need? Does Web Services need to build each page that could be possible? Does Web Services need to program more specialized pages each time a web maintainer requests the content modules be placed in a different order on a page?
This is when I started pondering modular pages, a way for web maintainers to decide what content module (i.e., FAQ, news listing, directory listing, or basic content such as paragraphs, lists and tables) goes where without worrying about programming any of it.
With the new design in Project Squishy coming into view, we weighed the good and bad of modular pages.
- Web maintainers will be able to update content modules without programming skills.
- Content modules can be arranged on a page in multiple ways without requesting Web Services create a brand new page layout.
- Content will be created more accessibly without extensive training for the web maintainers.
- Web maintainers will have the assistance of Web Services to provide recommendations of best practices for content.
|Content module folder containing the content modules |
(or blocks) linked to the Tarleton homepage
that make up the main content area on the page.
- New pages will be created initially by Web Services, not the web maintainers.
- Upside: Web Services will consult with maintainers on content strategy for the pages first, so web maintainers will only need to update content, not worry about layout.
- Editing a page will really mean editing content modules that are located in content module folders separate from their pages. This will be a new process for almost all web maintainers who are used to clicking on a page inside Cascade and then clicking the Edit tab for that page.
- Upside: Content modules are re-usable, so a number of maintainers who may need content they don't personally own can include other maintainers' content modules as opposed to duplicating content. This cuts down on outdated information available on Tarleton's website and the time it takes to make duplicate copies of content.
What Content Modules Will Be Available in Project Squishy?There are well over 200 options for modules on our current website, however, a majority of them will not be transferable to the Squishy website.
Many are based on program scripts that are no longer maintainable, such as a number of our slideshows, because their program authors dropped these projects. Think of it like anticipating what you will be able to still use when Apple or Microsoft pushes out a new operating system. Software companies have to make updates to their applications to make them compliant and functional with the newer operating systems, but if those software companies go out of business, the software becomes obsolete.
So What Can We Expect in Project Squishy?
|Mockup of redesigned directory listing that is responsive|
on all devices and seen here as the mobile version.
- Highlights: a rotating set of pictures linked to valuable information or calls to action
- Slideshow: a rotating set of pictures and their captions that can be used for testimonials as well as calls to action
- Calendar: currently linked to content automatically generated from the Online Calendar System, our plan is to also include a manual feed for websites that don't have specific categories of events related to them.
- Statistics: a rotating set of pictures and stats that show off the points of pride for any department or program.
- Testimonials: currently only one design for testimonials is available. This version is a panel with a huge quote and a picture of the person cited. A new one will be available that rotates through multiple testimonials on the side of textual content.