Web Design & Development Guide
Web content management system
Web content is the textual, visual or aural content that is encountered as part of the user experience on
It may include, among other things: text,
images, sounds, videos and animations.
Architecture for the World Wide Web" (second edition, page 219), Lou
Rosenfeld and Peter Morville write, "We define content broadly as 'the stuff in
your Web site.' This may include documents, data, applications, e-services,
images, audio and video files, personal Web pages, archived e-mail messages, and
more. And we include future stuff as well as present stuff."
Beginnings of web content
While the Internet began with a U.S. Government research project in the late
1950s, the web as we know it today did not appear on the Internet until after
Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at the European laboratory (CERN) proposed
the concept of linking documents with hypertext. But it was not until Mosaic,
the forerunner of the famous Netscape Navigator, appeared did the Internet become more than a file
The use of hypertext, hyperlinks and a page-based model of sharing
information, introduced with Mosaic and later Netscape, helped to define web
content, and the formation of websites. Largely, today we categorize websites as
being a particular type of website according to the content a website contains.
The page concept
Web content is dominated by the "page" concept. Having its beginnings in an
academic settings, and in a setting dominated by type-written pages, the idea of
the web was to link from directly in an academic paper to another academic
paper. This was a completely revolutionary idea in the late 1980s and early
1990s when the best a link could be made was to cite a reference in the midst of
a type written paper and name that reference either at the bottom of the page or
on the last page of the academic paper.
When it was possible for any person to write and own a Mosaic page,
the concept of a "Home Page" blurred the idea of a page. It was possible for
anyone to own a "Web page" or a "Home Page" which in many cases the website contained many physical pages in spite
of being called "a page". People often cited their "Home Page" to provide
credentials, links to anything that a person supported, or any other individual
content a person wanted to publish. (See a home page idea of
Edmund S. Phelps).
Even though "the web" may be the resource we commonly use to "get to"
particular locations online,
many different protocols are invoked to access embedded information. When we
are given an
address, such as
http://www.youtube.com, we expect to see a range of web pages, but in each
page we have embedded tools to view "video clips".
HTML web content
Even though we may embed various protocols within web pages, the "web page"
composed of "html"
(or some variation) content is still the dominant way whereby we share content.
And while there are many web pages with localized proprietary structure (most
usually, business websites), many millions of websites abound that are
structured according to a common core idea.
Blogs are a type of website that contains mainly web pages authored in
html (although the blogger may be totally unaware that the web pages are
composed using html due to the blogging tool that may be in use). Millions of
people use blogs online; a blog is now the new "Home Page", that is, a place
where a persona can reveal personal information, and/or build a concept as to
who this persona is. Even though a blog may be written for other purposes, such
as promoting a business, the core of a blog is the fact that it is written by a
"person" and that person reveals information from her/his perspective.
Search engine sites are composed mainly of html content, but also has
a typically structured approach to revealing information. A Search Engine
Results Page (SERP)
displays a heading, usually the name of the
Search Engine, and then a list of Websites and their addresses. What is
being listed are the results from a query that may be defined as keywords. The
results page lists webpages that are connected in some way with those keywords
used in the query.
Discussion boards are sites composed of "textual" content organized by
html or some variation that can be viewed in a web browser. The driving
mechanism of a discussion board is the fact that users are registered and once
registered can write posts. Often a discussion board is made up of posts asking some type of
question to which other users may provide answers to those questions.
Ecommerce sites are largely composed of textual material and embedded
with graphics displaying a picture of the item(s) for sale. However, there are
extremely few sites that are composed page-by-page using some variant of HTML.
Generally, webpages are composed as they are being served from a database to a
customer using a web browser. However, the user sees the mainly text document
arriving as a webpage to be viewed in a web browser. Ecommerce sites are usually
organized by software we identify as a "shopping cart".
A wider view of web content
While there are many millions of pages that are predominantly composed of
HTML, or some variation, in general we view
data, applications, e-services, images (graphics), audio and video files,
personal Web pages, archived e-mail messages, and many more forms of file and
data systems as belonging to websites and web pages.
While there are many hundreds of ways delivering information on a website,
there is a
common body of knowledge of
Search engine optimization that needs to be read as advisory of ways that
anything else but text should be delivered. Currently search engines are text
based and are one of the common ways people using a browser location sites of
Content is king
A current meme
when organizing or building a website is the catchwords "Content
is King" (although
Andrew Odlyzko in "Content is Not King" argues otherwise). What is meant by
the term "content" is written text in plain vanilla HTML or a variant that
produces good clean text that can be indexed with ease by a search engine.
This argument is valid to a greater extent, not because people will find it
interesting and useful, or a good enough description to buy the product online,
but because search engines can index text easily and if the information is close
to what a searcher is seeking can be delivered as a site for the seeker of
information. Textual information is therefore "king" online to aid the rather
raw search tools to operate rather than actually to be impelling for people when
Because websites are often complex, a term "content
appeared in the late 1990s identifying a method or in some cases a tool to
organize all the diverse elements to be contained on a website. Content
management often means that within a business there is a range of people who
have distinct roles to do with content management, such as
content author, editor, publisher, and administrator. But it also means there may be a
content management system whereby each of the different roles are organized
whereby to provide their assistance in
operating the system and organizing the information for a website.
Even though a business may organize to collect, contain and represent that
information online, content needs organization in such a manner to provide the
reader (browser) with
an overall "customer experience" that is easy to use, the site can be
navigated with ease, and the website can fulfill the role assigned to it by the
business, that is, to sell to customers, or to market products and services, or
to inform customers.
Open source content management systems
Version control systems
List of content management systems
List of content management frameworks
Document management system
Enterprise content management
Geospatial Content Management System