Page 1

Designing your website (CMS – Content Management System) So you have selected to use a CMS (Content Management System) format for your new website. What is it and what do you need to do next? A CMS site can be one of the easiest ways of administrating a website these days, not to say that the pre-planning stages are any easier than those required for a Standard HTML formatted site. While with a CMS site you probably do not have to learn how to write code in any of the coding formats, you do need to learn how to get things organized for the site. This may be slightly different for each of the CMS formats available today in what different elements are called but the overall principles are relatively the same. This document will use Joomla for the examples talked about. In a CMS format website on your remote hosting server you have two parts for your website, the website files and a database. The database is usually a MySQL file that is automatically created when Joomla is installed for your site on your hosting service. Normally there is not much you will need to do manually for this database after the initial setup is completed in the Joomla installation. This step consists of entering the database name and address location on the remote server, the username and password to access the database, and the table prefix Joomla should be using. Occasionally, you may want to download a copy of the database to use for a backup if you ever need to repair or restore a damaged database – this is something for advanced users and instructions are provided on the Parnassus Creative Client Help site. For the website files, Joomla will install all of the folders and files required on the hosting service’s remote system. This is just the starting point for your site and does not yet contain any of your content for the site. This is where most of your preplanning comes into play and this is even before you decide what the images and layout of the pages will look like. While many people today are used to multi-tasking, it is good idea to concentrate on only one part at a time in this process of planning out your site. After you complete the four steps discussed in this document, you will be ready to move on to what comes next to make your new website a reality. This includes: Final selection and contracting for your hosting service, Selecting and registering your site’s Domain Name (website address, example, Installing the CMS software on your site’s hosting service account, Installing your site’s template, Learning how to use the CMS software for your website, Creating and editing your site content including images and articles, Adding other special features to your website; modules, components, and plugins. Parnassus Creative can assist you in completing most or even all of these items depending on your needs and desires. At the very least we can provide you with sound advice for each of these tasks.

Page 1

Part 1 – Category System: The first step should be to decide what it is you want on your site in the way of articles, the text of the messages you want to post. You need to have a Category system here as this will help in other steps involved in the creation of your site. As an example for one site that is for a published author, he has categorized his site’s contents as: 1. 2.

3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Category Name: category content description Home: initial landing page for your site and gateway to everything else on your site, Literary Works: published works, poetry, short stories, a. Novels, b. Poetry, c. Short Stories. Kind Words: peer and professional reviews, Professional: professional history/credentials, honors and awards, Missives: site progress blog entries and other thoughts worth posting, Links: links to other websites site owner/author wants to include, Contact: information how to contact site owner/author.

Within each of these main categories you can have sub-categories or even multiple levels of sub-categories to further separate things such as in the Literary Works category have sub-categories for novels, poetry, and short stories. Your Category system will also be valuable when you are creating your Navigation Menu Links and how the Articles (page content) will be displayed within those menu links on your site. The important part of this category system at this point is to get the main level defined as these items will be directly related to your menu links which is a separate step in this pre-planning process.

Part 2 – Menu Link System: The next step is of course the Menu Link system. Planning out your Menu Link system(s) will help in your page layout process when you are creating your site template or adapting a premade template for your site. Like in your Category system outline, your menu links can have multiple levels within the menus. And yes, you can have multiple menus – this is actually recommended for most websites anyway. Depending upon how your site template is setup, you will usually have the menu link image buttons that appear some place close to the top of your web pages either above or just below your page’s header graphics, possibly a vertical menu (either text or image buttons) that may appear in one of the columns below your page header graphics along side of your page specific content, and possibly yet another set of menu links in your footer section of your web pages. And depending upon the features you have on your site you may even have supplemental menus within each of these sections such as a site visitor login menu. Without going into an explanation of the mechanics for your menu links you should decide the type of menu links you will have for each one. What you will be selecting for the types is below; this is not a complete list but is the most relevant to a new site:

Page 2

Articles o o

o o

System Links Single Article Links to a single article, any category Featured Articles Links to articles in the Featured category, displays multiple articles on the same webpage Category Blog Links to a group of articles within the same category displaying the article text Category List Links to a group of articles within the same category as only a list of the article titles

o o


External URL Links to an URL (website address) that is not on your site Menu Item Alias Duplicates links to another menu link on your site and saves having to edit each occurrence of the link when making any changes to it (good for duplicating the same link in multiple menus) Text Separator a blank menu link to make a space between active menu links in the list

Part 3 – Images and site Graphics: Yes, like the Categories and Menu Links you should make a plan for the images and graphics you want on your site. There are a few main level categories here that include: 1. Header images: items that appear on every page of your website at the top of the pages. 2. Social Media Link images: images that double as links to your other social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. 3. Trademark or Logo images: images that identify you, your company, or organization that you may use on your site. 4. Photos: the photos that you want published on your site. 5. Videos: the videos that you want published on your site. 6. Sounds/Music: sound and music files you want published on your site. And like with your Categories and Menu Links you may have multiple levels within each designation. With exception of the Header images, all of your files will be uploaded to your site using the Joomla Media Manager in your Site Administrator pages. Within the Media Manager, you should create folders and subfolders (or multiple levels of subfolders) that mirror the outline you have created for all of your images/graphics, photos, videos, and sound/music files. Having your Media Manager portion of your site organized like this will save you some aggravation in the long run. Knowing where something you are looking for might be located will help you to find it later – it will save time by not having to scroll through long lists of items to find what you need at the moment and where you should place new items you are adding to your site. Generally, try to keep your file names (& folder names) relevant to the file subject. You should avoid using a blank space in the name and instead use an underscore ‘_’ or hyphen ‘-‘. Also avoid the use of any punctuation marks in the names other than these: ‘( ) _ - ’ but no periods nor forward/back slashes ‘/ or \’. This will make the name appear over the internet correctly without any surprises in the pathname to the file/folder location. There are some files that are date sensitive, such as Newsletters. You can use dates in the file/folder names to help in keeping things in order. For most Windows Operating systems and the programs that run on them there is only one format that will consistently keep things in chronological order in the directories, it is ‘YYYYMMDD’ (the day portion is optional if published only monthly). Example: ‘newsletter200802.pdf’ stands for the newsletter’s February 2008 edition saved in PDF format. FYI: PDF stand for Portable Document Format used mainly by Adobe’s Acrobat Reader program to view the file without allowing for changes to be made to it (usually).

Page 3

Part 4 – Site Template: Now we’re getting into the really ‘creative’ side of the pre-planning process – creating or selecting your site’s template. A Site Template is the part of any CMS type of website that is the ‘road map’ to how the page will look to your site visitors. It creates the spaces for elements you want to have included and the address locations where they may appear on your web. In Joomla you may use multiple templates if you want specific pages to look different from your main Site Template. By employing Cascading Style Sheet files (CSS) in the template it also controls the type font, size, and alignment of the text on your site. Note: in a Joomla site many of these text settings can be overridden where appropriate within your articles but otherwise must be setup within your site template. Unless you are familiar with creating/editing CSS files you are better off using a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) type of website editor program to make changes. How do I create a Site Template? The answer, “For most people, you don’t.” Through the Community there are thousands of FREE Site Templates available. Other types of CMS formats also have free site templates available. There are even more Site Templates that you can purchase from their developers. You can also purchase WYSIWYG software yourself or learn the programming languages for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP to create all of the files you will need. The purchase of WYSIWYG software is not really practical since usually you will use it only once or maybe handful of times. Probably the most popular WYSIWYG program available for the creation of a CMS Site Template is Artisteer. Parnassus Creative has purchased a copy of Artisteer for our usage. We have already created a library of Site Templates that we can install on your CMS site; see our Website Prices page for the cost and why we do charge for the installation of our Site Templates. We can also do modifications to any of these templates or create one from scratch to meet your needs.

Summary: One other thing you can do to help is to create a folder on your own PC system where you can save all of the materials you have gathered. Having everything in one location on your PC will speed up the uploading process when you are ready to add these items to your new website. Once you have completed each of the four steps covered in this document, you are ready to move on to what comes next. Parnassus Creative will be you with every step of the way; providing sound advice to you and supplying instructional materials that will assist you for the tasks you wish to perform yourself. Be sure to visit our Website Services section on our website for more information on what comes next; review the Website Prices, Domain Name Registration, Template Library, Supplemental Elements – Joomla Extensions, and all of the other parts of the Website Services section. After you have become an official client of Parnassus Creative Website Services, you will be provided with access credentials to our Client Help site where most of our instructional and training documents will be made available to you. Our Client Help site is another great reason to do business with us!

Page 4

Designing your website for a CMS Platform  

This document covers the basic steps to follow to begin the design process for your CMS (Content Management System) platform website.