If there is a trend in web design that has really caught on over the last few years, it's content management. Sometimes it comes in the form of a blog, other times it's embodied in a corporate website that shifts responsibility for content off the 'webmaster' and towards individuals within the organization. Oftentimes, it just means that small organizations can update their own sites, adding photos or making text changes to their site.
There are many platforms that provide this capability, from the very simple to the very sophisticated. Most offer a common set of tools, such as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) content editors.
The dirty secret of content management, however, is that most of these systems also suffer from the same flaws.
For the sake of illustration, let's say you have a content managed website already. You're ready to make some changes to the site and you've come to your WYSIWYG content editor to do several seemingly simple tasks: Adding some photos, maybe a YouTube video, and putting in some basic content. Let's say you want to stagger the images so that they appear on the left and right sides of your content, evenly spaced, basically the same size, and you want the text to wrap around the sides of the images so that it looks a bit like a newspaper column.
You will find that in virtually every content management system out there, in order to accomplish what has been outlined above, you'll need to do several of the following things (or possibly all of them) :
Crop or resize a photo on your computer, then upload it to the website.
Copy and paste a bit of HTML code from YouTube (be sure to paste it in HTML mode!)
Do a lot of fiddling with the alignment buttons in the editor, trying to get the images to go the correct side of the screen, only to be told that you have to click on the “Image” button and use THOSE alignment buttons, which are totally different.
And the reward for your tenacity will be a page that sort of looks like what you wanted, except that somehow it just doesn't look quite as good as you'd hoped.
The truth is that most content management systems suffer from these problems because they aren't easy problems to solve. The talented people who write and maintain content management systems are HTML experts, and they understand technical subtleties that are lost on most of us, like the difference between aligning an IMAGE to the right and aligning WORDS to the right. And after all, WYSIWYG is still so much easier that writing HTML by hand, so what are you complaining about? The amount of effort that it would take to resolve these problems is so substantial, so overwhelming really, it's just not worth it. “Over time, you'll learn to use this system,” many web designers will say.
SynaTree develops tools that makes managing content easier. We believe that WYSIWYG is not always the best approach to managing content; in fact it rarely is. As in the previous example, if you want to quickly create content, and pair that content with images, maybe having total control of the size and placement of those images isn't as important as ensuring all of the images are of similar sizes, and taking the guesswork and just plain WORK out of positioning all of those images just right. There are methods that can be used to automate layout, image sizing, and a host of other tedious tasks involved with content management; the task is to find the best way to simplify these tasks and automate them as much as is possible.
Our approach is to utilize the best parts of traditional WYSIWYG editors with the power of DOM-aware content parsing algorithms to create a hybrid content management system. In other words, we let you focus on the writing of the content, which is the hardest part; while the system we've designed takes care of the formatting automatically (with suggestions from you, of course). On the one hand, your words and images are totally within your control, but on the other, formatting details and layout information is left to the system to work out. You are free to write your content just as you would a paper document, without concern about spacing, sizing, colors, or stylesheets. We encourage full-size images straight off your digital camera; our system will work out what sizes need to be used on the website and where. If you insert a video, it will be converted to Flash for you automatically. Feel free to insert as many photographs into your articles as you want, they will be converted to slideshows or other intuitive layouts automatically.
By striking a balance between legitimate uses for content editors and the time-saving consistency of algorithms, our system saves you time and endless headaches.
We can create custom solutions for your particular needs. Whether it's tabular data from Excel that you need to paste onto your website (without losing the formulas) or an unconventional layout that doesn't play well with your existing content system, we are here to help. SynaTree isn't reselling somebody else's innovations; we are true innovators ourselves.
SynaTree builds the majority of our content management solutions on top of the robust Joomla! Framework. Out of the box, Joomla! suffers from all of the problems we outlined in our Example above, but we've changed all that with our innovative components and add-ons.
If you think you might benefit from a conversation about your website's content problems, please Contact Us. We would be happy to assist you, even if our offerings aren't the answer to your particular needs.