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Content Management 101 – Staring SchoolWorld web site(s)

March 5, 2014

I’m protecting the innocence of the person we meet with today.  Ill call her Marge.  SchoolWorld is a service a CMS that is offered to our departments here at BOCES.  Its pretty good stuff.  Departments in our organization can create space within an existing instance of SchoolWorld.  The coolest thing about SW is that it is written in ColdFusion, a language I used to develop in.  I feel old and outdated.  Not really outdated, but to say I *used to develop in it, for almost 10 years, makes me feel old, but, I digress.  My daughter told me to blog this way, to allow little tangents of emotion, it makes the blogging human, she says.

Anyway, back to my story.  I meet with Eilleen, I mean Marge for about 60 minutes this am.  I sat and listened to her talk about the content that she wanted to put on the web site.  She had most of it written down and even organized into pages.  My job then is to help her to come along and grow a confidence and ownership of the content on-line.  In other words, I needed not to do things for her so much, but to help her do it herself.  To guide her into a comfort zone, so she could take ownership of the content and feel comfortable editing and updating it.  Lets face it, what could be worse than stale web content!  That’s what i’m saying, VERY LITTLE.  Nothing gets my gander up like reading outdated material on a web page.   Tongue is planted in cheek, of course.

What I am really saying “Its not mine, Its hers”  She needs to build it, edit it, own it, not me.  I do not want her calling me, ever, to tell her how to change the content on a web page or how to make a sentence bold.

“Let you blogging come alive dad!, opps, that was my daughter sneaking in there again”.  Sam, stay out, for now.

The *technical aspects of this meeting looked like this:

  1. Find the right SW instance to work with (we have about 10)
  2. Create a new account or see if she already has one, which she did, but never used it.
  3. Provide her account with access to the correct areas or departments on the site.
  4. Create a page or two to get her stated.

Show her how to log into the system, how to find the page(s) we created for her, and set her off on her content creating journey.  Really, that’s it.

Marge had a few typical comments like “Im not really sure how I want the page to look until I can see it”, I have heard that about 100 times over 15 years.  Which is a legit comment and is very true, since seeing your content in the actual web page is very informative, much more concrete than the abstract notion of a web page in your head or on paper.  “Could I use a form so people can ask for things?”  Well, of course, which precipitated a conversation or analogy of a back door to the house and having the correct key to enter, so you could see things in the kitchen in addition to the foyer.   Then I explained that her rights or access would allow her to see the web content that she creates from a different perspective that what her customers will see.  Hence, the back door -vs- front door analogy.  She seemed to get it.  We also explained that that phase, creating a form to capture inquires from her customers, would be phase 3.

Phase 1 = logging into the system, access her pages(s) and adding some simple content.

Phase 2 = adding more content, adding new pages, figuring out what content needs to be on what page, repeat and rinse

Phase 3 = identifying what she needs in say a form and how to add those to a web page and how to access data submitted via a form and how to work with that – the concept of a data base.

So, to summarize, SW – CMS, me, a advocate of SW, customers, others in WFLBOCES who want a web presence, Me guiding customers to create and take ownership of their web content.

A link to the starting page of Marges’ content, lets see how she does.

The end.

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