When developing a new website, it is critical to consider its efficiency. However, few people believe that editing the site should be easy, but they should, because they will have to sooner or later. Let’s see what we can do to ensure that a new site is easy to manage.
The advantages of easily editable websites
Indeed, there is only one significant advantage of conveniently manageable websites. The fact is that an easy-to-maintain site would take less time to adapt. This should save you not only some time but also some money, as time is money.
When the objective is to save time, everything should be geared toward reducing the required site maintenance.
Before we get into the specifics on how to build a simple-to-manage website, let’s review some concepts of easy maintenance:
- You must be able to quickly locate what needs to be edited.
- You should edit the smallest amount of data necessary to change the entire site.
- It should be simple to use the tools that your site employs.
- Identifying what should be altered
Prior to making any changes, it is important to determine what needs to be changed. Though easy, it can be very difficult at times. This factor is significantly influenced by the technologies used on a platform.
Consider tables for visual layout. If we want to make one block slightly wider and another slightly narrower, we must first locate them in the code. This can be challenging if no comments or other identifiers remain. Finding the required block is simple when using CSS, first and foremost because there is less code and it is structured, and secondly, because there are specific identifiers and classes that make finding them a breeze. Additionally, SSI makes locating the correct piece to modify extremely easy.
Adjustment work that is actually performed
Although changes typically impact the entire site, the actual amount of work required can be significantly different. Consider the following examples:
- You must change the top navigation on a site that does not have
- you want to alter the appearance of the right column
- You must adjust the content area’s border colour.
Both of these scenarios could result in hours of repetitive work if the technologies are used inappropriately. However, if the site was developed in accordance with web standards and makes effective use of technology such as CSS, editing the site can be astonishingly simple.
In the examples above, if you used no SSI, it would be necessary to manually change the top navigation or perform some other task in each and every file. However, if Server Side Includes were used, this would be significantly simpler. Additionally, if tables were used in the preceding instances, the web designer would need to locate the appropriate location in the HTML code, which would take time. However, with XHTML/CSS, this would be trivial.
Technology that is usable
The primary factor affecting site maintenance is the technology employed. There are several that are effective:
- SSI (Server Side Includes) allows for the inclusion of a single file in multiple folders.
- CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is used to handle the site’s styling.
- PHP is used to build interactive websites.
SSI simplifies the life of a web designer by allowing him or her to use the same file (a block of text, for example) in multiple files. In this case, only the included file must be modified to alter its content in all other files.
CSS can be used to quickly handle the styling of a website. With CSS, you can add the same styling to a similar element (a heading, for example) on the web, and you can edit the heading on all of your pages by editing a single line of code in a single file.
Though PHP is more complicated than HTML, it can be used to build simple scripts and to display dynamically obtained data on your web pages.
Any of the technologies mentioned above can be used to create a site that is simple to manage by a single individual.
Best of all, the site’s usability should be considered prior to design. Of course, the site should not be constrained by technology, but the ones we currently use are not particularly constrained and provide considerable versatility, such as the technologies described previously.
Naturally, the person responsible for designing the site and subsequent site maintenance can determine how well-structured the site should be since he or she can spend less or more time working on the site in the future. However, if senior management recognises the need for site maintenance simplification, the design of a website can be decided from the top.
The principles and technology outlined above will significantly reduce the amount of work necessary to maintain a website. However, the majority of the effort is decided by the web designer.