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Dynamic content management on the Web.

Most people are comfortable with Microsoft Word. Few know or care about the technology operating behind the veil of friendliness of the Word page. Web content management software is like Word for the Internet. You use it to create, publish, and manage pages on your Web site without having to know the underlying technology. Editorial power is placed in the hands of the people who know the most about what should be published, where, and when.

There are many Web content management systems (CMS) and some rules of thumb may be helpful in selecting the one that's right for your association.

* Pick a commercial package for which you own the license to the software. You will be spending a lot of time and resources on your Web site. Don't lock yourself into a situation in which moving from one service provider to another requires you to start over.

* Look for a dynamic content management systems. Some systems produce static Web pages, but they lack the power to support association Web sites. Dynamic systems construct pages in real time, using content recorded in a client-server database. The content is reusable on many pages, and standards are enforced through administrator rules.

* Don't over-buy and pay for features you do not need or use. Don't buy a system so complex that a huge percentage of projects fail under the load of technical administration. Look for products that are truly wonders and that have broken out of the pack, taking Web authorship to award-winning levels of recognition.

A case in point

With the leadership of a major Washington, D.C., association, we participated in the selection of a content management system for their new Web site. They selected the CMS 200 package from Ektron, Amherst, New Jersey, a commercial, dynamic content management system with an editor that excels in meeting the goal of a simple interface with the power to manage a large Web site. A visit to Ektron's Web site at is a trip worth taking.

In less than two months, one non-technical staff member at the association implemented the association's 300-page Web site in CMS 200. The cost of a 10-user package of licenses was less than $5,000, and the hosting fee at the NOAH ASP Center is less than $100 per month.

Ektron's new CMS 300 is a practical option for quick, flexible, scalable Web site management that fits with association budgets. It's a commercial package, the association owns the license, and the site can operate from any hosting service or internal Web server. Managers of areas such as membership, meetings, governance, chapters, and political affairs may develop their own Web pages with the Ektron Word-like editor placing text, pictures, graphics, color, and logos on the page within the rules and style sheets defined by the CMS administrator. The navigation of the site is under your control as you create and link pages. Pages may be staged for approval, timed for future automatic release, or published immediately to the live Web site.

Keywords are saved in content pages as metadata to facilitate site searches and publication by search engines. You may securely upload files, graphics, or data to the CMS 300 library for your staff to use on their pages. Editing is done through the Internet and your Web browser. As you make changes, a historical record is maintained and you may even roll back your site to any prior page version at any time.

Associations with chapters, special-interest groups, or divisions may extend to those groups the opportunity to have their Web sites within the association's Web site. You may control or delegate the authority to set the style and editorial properties of their pages as well as the staging areas for approval prior to publication. Because the dynamic content is maintained in a Microsoft SQL database, there is no limit on the amount, complexity, or size of your libraries or Web sites.

When your site needs to interact with your database, you may use application servers such as Microsoft ASP, Microsoft.NET, Macromedia ColdFusion, and the PHP Web application server platforms. CMS 300 also provides a library of utilities to work with your data in a Microsoft SQL, MySQL, Oracle, or MS Access database.

Dynamic content management systems such as Ektron's CMS 300 open a whole new world of control for your Web site. Please give us a call or e-mail us if you would like more information.


Empowering associations with Internet and database solutions, JL Systems provides the NOAH Association Management System to associations across the United States. NOAH is the enterprise system that covers all facets of association life from the expected features of membership, committees, meetings, subscriptions, advertising, and expositions to the unexpected features of daily-deferred income, continuing education, manuscript processing, graphical exhibit halls, and daily time records. NOAH simplifies complex billing transactions, while it works with your accounting system and maintains the audit trail. Our focus is on our existing users, where you are our most important asset.



Larry Danforth is president of JL Systems, Annandale, Virginia. E-mail:
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Author:Danforth, Larry
Publication:Association Management
Article Type:Advertisement
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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