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Integrating CSS with Content Management Systems (15 Sep 2004)
It is essential to determine certain user needs when designing a PMS UI.

First, I discover who the users are, what roles they play, and what expertise they have. Next, I use this information to match features to users.

On a particular project I might have two types of users—designers and clients, for example. The designers are given an interface to modify the CSS. In this case they have extensive CSS expertise and only edit styles occasionally, so they are given a PMS interface to upload whole CSS files. When clients (who generally have no Web development skills) create new pages with the CMS, they need a variety of layouts that correspond to the content they’re authoring. They are given a PMS interface that allows them to simply select one of a variety of page layouts.

I’ve found it can be a mistake to match the role to the ability to edit specific files (for example, using a PMS to match designers to a user interface that inserts images into the XHTML). In reality, the separation of content and presentation isn’t that clean. Images can be content, like when a photo accompanies a news story; or decoration, like when a company logo appears in the header. Images can be specified in the CSS or in the XHTML. The CMS and PMS should do the correct mapping of user to function, regardless of how the function corresponds to XHTML or CSS files.

That’s it! If you design a PMS, please post screenshots and link to them from the comments section of this article so we can all learn from each other.
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