With the develpment in CMS area, there is all the more push in the market for websites to move to a CMS system, large or small, to manage their content. As a result there are lots of new initiatives for grounds-up CMS implementation.
Usually, a CMS product starts with HTML a set of HTML mock-ups which defines how the site will look like along with specifying the static and dynamic regions on the page. By static, I mean area’s which are not editable by authors/editors and usually controlled by CSS. By Dynamic, I mean, authors/editors can go in CMS system and change content for these areas. Dynamic area could be anything, plan text, images, links etc.
The CMS developers take HTML mock-up as input, define content types based on defined dynamic area’s (and obvously functional specifications) and convert the HTML into CMS templates and content holes. The above approach sounds all straight forward but still there are soo many projects which fails/get delayed. And one of the reasons is HTML mock-ups.
Usually in an enterprise environment, multiple vendors are involved in building a website, from creative agencies, to implmentation partners to hosting partners. In most of the cases the creative agencies which develop HTML mock-ups who has no clue around how the HTML mock-up is going to be fitted in a WCM in terms of templates/ components/ elements etc. They try to make website flashy, attractive without really worrying around its maintenance. Some of the examples are:
- Using images everywhere in the site goverened by CSS than HMTL
- Same block of content using different HTML structure on different pages though the look and feel is the same
- Hard coded height width dimensions for image tags
- Too many variations in layout, which in reality could fit in just a few
Even if the HTML mock-up is developed to the best of practices, its usage varies with each CMS. An example, there is a style defined globally which is applicable to all the divs in centre portion of a page. Some CMS systems add their own divs when elements/components are dragged on the centre part. This leads to style issues for the centre portion and we spend lot of time negating those effects.
I think its time for CMS vendors to move forward and lay down best practices, guidelines that needs to be followed when developing HTML mock-up for their product. This could definitely makes easy for creative agencies and implementors to get it right the first time than really spending time on HTML structures just because the choosen CMS doesn’t like the way HTML mock-up is designed. It will really going to reduce overall project cost and project failures.