Simple online content management from Texty
July 3, 2008 2 Comments
I found this online Content Management System (CMS) tool today which you can use to maintain the content of a web page without any great knowledge of how to write code.
The principle here is that you put a script on your page which pulls the information from Texty’s database. You edit the content in that database through a simple online user interface, much like editing a blog post, for example. This is great for small organisations who may be prepared to pay a small amount to a web design firm for a basic site (or an off-the-shelf template) but do not have the skills to maintain well-written HTML themselves. So clubs, societies, and small (or even large) not-for-profits could all benefit from a simple system to help them manage the content of pages which change frequently, such as news or upcoming events listings. Some commercial firms might also welcome the convenience, although I suspect that many smaller businesses simply don’t feel the need to change their website content all that often. The other benefit may be that it is easy to allow multiple people to produce content without fear that they can cause problems for one another.
Why not get a blog instead?
For many people a blog is a handy way to post short pieces of news or information without having to write underlying code. However, the popular free offerings only give limited control over the appearance of the site from a selection of templates.
So a separate site without your own ‘branding’ may not be appropriate to give an integrated public web presence. There may also be a feeling that a blog will not be seen as the “official” face of an organisation, as some still treat them as purely personal spaces – not helped by the number of people who seem intent on telling the world every detail of their cat’s daily menu and habits.
I have not used Texty for my site, so I have yet to see how it handles the look and feel aspects to integrate it within a website. I would hope it simply generates code using standard tags (H1,2,3…, P, A, IMG, UL/LI etc) and relies on the site’s own stylesheets to provide formatting (or leave it to a browser’s default). Even using classes or IDs would be an acceptable middle-ground, except this would presume some changes to the site to use these specific styles.
Why have I not tried it yet?
I’m writing this post because I think Texty is an interesting proposition, but personally my company website is hand-written by me using a combination of Notepad (for quick changes to text or things like the CSS) and Expression Web (when I’m feeling lazy or want to do global find/replace for example).
I don’t use a graphical or “design” view in an editor because I have yet to find one which gives an accurate representation of how a page will render in any browser, yet alone any particular one. Instead I simply host the site on an internal server so I can quickly test how pages look in Firefox and Internet Explorer (version 8 most of the time, but I double check with 7 now and again). Most other standards-based browsers should do at least a similar job because I use CSS and XHTML 1.1 (which is pretty much the same as strict 1.0). There’s nothing which is too dependant on exact positioning, as long as things are in approximately the right places it’s more about the content. For me accessibility is key, so I test in various screen sizes (resolutions) to see that the important items are visible even on smaller screens, as well as getting the order and flow right so someone can use the site based on text alone or using screen reading software, for example.
Let me know if you have used Texty
So, if you have used Texty or a similar service, let me know how it went. Was it easy to get working with your site? How did you integrate the content to maintain an overall consistent look and feel for your pages? Do you use it for all your pages, or just the most frequently changed?