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Content Creation and Approval Process

In a mature web site, content goes through a process from creation to live publication, as shown in Figure 9.10. The process is iterative due to period updates. The first step is for an author to create the content, typically in a word processor such as Microsoft Word. Artwork may be created from digital cameras or illustration and graphics software. Content may originate in a database or a report that is generated from a line-of-business system such as accounting or customer relationship management. For this example, let's assume a content creator is using Word to write text that will appear on a web page.

09fig10.gifFigure 9.10. Content Management Cycle

In MCMS, content creation can be handled in one of two ways. Authors can continue to work in Word, with direct links between Word documents and the web pages where the content will be published. Creating or editing files puts them into MCMS version control and the approval process. The second approach is to use the browser client for MCMS to create the content. The editing controls on the template contain tools such as formatting, fonts, and spellchecking to make content creation as simple as possible. The template author determines how much control the content creator has over the page by, for example, determining whether HTML tags can be entered or leaving placeholders for photographs or other graphic elements.

The second step in the lifecycle is the formatting of the content into a web page that fits the look-and-feel of the site and incorporates the navigation and other shared elements of the site (such as copyright notice). Before content management, this step would have been handled by a web developer or webmaster who would have received an email with an attached Word document containing the text to be added. This content would have been cut and pasted into an HTML file with an HTML editor or a web-authoring tool.

With MCMS, the formatting step is accomplished by means of the page template. A graphic designer and web developer can create the container that holds the content, leaving the content creator with the job of creating the text itself.

Once the page is formatted, it is sent for one or more stages of approval. It might be sent back to the original author for feedback, to a supervisor, or to legal review. An accessibility review may be conducted to determine whether the page meets government accessibility guidelines such as those in Section 508 of the Disabilities Act. To learn more about Section 508, start with the official government site at www.section508.gov/. Microsoft is committed to making its products accessible to people with disabilities, and you can learn more about these efforts at www.microsoft.com/enable/. For a large number, perhaps the majority, of web sites, there is neither a review process nor a staging server where pages are placed before they go into production. Instead, the webmaster edits the live site directly. Approval processes may be simple or quite complex.

After approval, the page is either published or scheduled for publication. In MCMS, a page property determines the date that a page will go live (Figure 9.11). Embargoed content such as press releases can be prepared in advance and then displayed automatically when the publication date arrives.

09fig11.gifFigure 9.11. Page Properties Page

When the end of the useful life of content is reached, the content disappears from the web site and is archived. MCMS allows content creators or web administrators to specify the shelf life of a page. Many web sites would benefit from freshness dating.

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