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Design Philosophy

Well designed websites are:

Accessible

Information is not useful unless it is used. To be used, it must be easy to access.

Consistent Inconsistent layout and navigation features make websites hard to use.
Well Maintained Too many websites fail as information resources because the information they present is out-of-date. Sites become out-of-date when they are difficult to maintain.

Our Content Management Tools are designed to support and encourage these attributes.

Accessibility

Accessible websites are easy to navigate, so our designs include the following navigation features:

  • Site Map: Like most websites, pages are organized in a hierarchical fashion. Our optional Site Map presents a concise visual map of the site's hierarchy. The titles of all pages are displayed as hyperlinks, using indentation to indicate hierarchical depth.
  • Search Engine: All pages are searchable. Our optional search engine uses sophisticated "fuzzy" word-matching techniques.
  • Side/Top Menu: Pages either present a Side Menu that provides direct access to pages next to them and immediately below them in the site hierarchy, or they present a Top Menu . A pointer on Side Menus indicates which page is being viewed.  Top Menus can optionally generate image files using unusual fonts.  Side Menus can optionally be hierarchical.  The files are automatically updated when page titles (which drive the menu entries) change.
  • Top and Bottom Navigation Menus: The main Navigation Menu, which is typically displayed on the Home Page, is optionally shown at the top and bottom of all other pages on the site.
  • Back Menu: As a user descends a site's hierarchy, an optional Back Menu displays the chain of pages above the one being viewed. The Back Menu, typically shown at the top of pages, makes it easy to ascend back up the page hierarchy and indicates where a page is in the site, even if a user "jumps into the middle" from a link on another site.

Accessible websites also make it easy to view their content in a variety of ways, so our sites generally include the following presentation features:

  • Sizable Text: The content text on all pages can be resized using the "Text Size" controls in many browsers, making the site more accessible to the visually impaired.
  • Printer-Version: Pages optionally include a "Printer Version" button that displays the page in a printer-friendly format.

Consistency

Our Content Management Tools are customized to support the design and layout policies of each website. A consistent style of navigation is automatically provided by the menu system described above.

Maintainability

Our Content Management Tools let website owners maintain their website's content themselves without having to become experts in HTML or going through an external service bureau for every content change. Our customized Web-based, Content Management Tools allow users to:

  • Change the contents of their site using browser-based visual editors (without editing HTML).
  • Review changes internally. Other staff can view changes with their Web browsers. The internal site appears exactly as it will to the public once published. (Even the optional search engine works.)
  • Publish approved changes to the public site.

The Content Management Tools maintain the consistency and quality of sites by automatically:

  • Updating the optional Site Map to track changes.
  • Indexing the optional Search system's index database.
  • Updating the labels on the Menus.
  • Finding "broken" links, both local and off-site.
  • Finding spelling errors and maintaining a local dictionary.
  • Making backups of previously published versions of the site.

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