Sunday, November 09, 2003

Content System Mis-Management

I've come across a few requests for bids to deliver content management systems recently. It's a topical thing to look at what people are asking for and understand the rolling needs of the buying community. Many things have struck me as odd or out of place, but one thing particularly perhaps shows the biggest misunderstanding of what such a system is all about. My thinking on CMSs is that they separate out the "Content" from the "Management" - i.e. editors can freely create information and publish it knowing that once it's on the web it will work in any browser on any platform because the skilled techies have created style sheets that will correctly format the information (whether text or graphics) no matter on what it's presented. So, when I visit ukonline.gov.uk using a Mac and Firebird, or a PC running Netscape, or a Sony P800 mobile phone using the inbuilt browser, or an Ipaq, it renders differently each time so as to suit the device and the way it works. Yet many bids that I have seen recently have requested all of that capability and then, as an extra, the ability to insert home grown HTML into the middle of a page, or many pages. How would that work? Who would do the QA to make sure that the page rendered properly, what would happen when a new browser came out, what about accessibility rules? It's just content mis-management to do that.

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