Understanding the Web
The web, sometimes called the internet, is a loosely defined term that has come to mean "whatever I see in my browser" to most people. While this definition of the web, and especially the definition of the internet, is woefully inaccurate, defining the web as such will make the most sense to the average person.
People who want to build a website have to program in one of the web languages. This is a problem because most of these people do not know any of these languages nor should they have to learn these languages. For such users, there is something called a content manager. This content manager is what you will need to learn how to use and is what the McNeese Website Documentation attempts to describe how to use.
Easy huh? Nope, not really. As it turns out, the way in which the web has evolved and the decisions users and major internet companies have made has caused what should be a relatively easy process a complete nightmare. To explain why this is so much harder, one must first address the common misconceptions of the web.
The biggest misconception about the web is the idea that because a web page looks a certain way when I look at it, means that it looks the same way when someone else looks at it. It is critical for web developers and users of a content manager to be aware of how the web language actually works. The web language is designed so that the builder of the website does not write how the site looks but instead what is on the site. The web browser is entirely responsible for how and if that website is presented to the viewer. This means that problems with the look and feel of a website are usually problems with the webbrowser.
Lets say there are two artists, one is a musician and the other is a painter. Lets call the musician the web language and the painter the web browser. The musicians job is to write a story, yes a story, with song. That song is considered the website. The painter only gets to read the song and cannot speak to the musician. It is the painters job to interpret the story from that song and display that song in a painting. If each browser, such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, is a different painter, then how each of those painters interprets the song will be different. This then becomes increasingly more complex when some of the painters are deaf and do not know what sound truly is like and have an even harder time interpeting the song.
Another relevant misconception is that with the web language, being so flexible, one can do anything they want in any way they want. The problem with this is that the United States Federal Government has passed laws that require state institutions to follow appropriate web accessibility guidelines. This restricts how websites may be created.
The next misconception is for those who have actually learned one or more of the web languages in their past. The web has undergone so many changes that it is more accurate to call the latest incarnation of the web web 15.0 and not web 2.0. Because of the differences between browsers, accessibility requirements, and the particular language versions being used by this website, the code you will have to write may be different from what your are familiar with.
Context and Accessibility
Content editors have to view themselves as the musician and not the painter (see example 1). To do so, one must think in terms of context. Do no write what you want to see, but instead write what you intend to mean. Writing in context goes hand in hand with accessibility because it gives a way for painters to understand what each sound is supposed to mean when that painter is possibly deaf.
To write in context, each content editor must have a very basic understanding of certain HTML properties, such as headings, emphasis, tables, lists, abbreviations, articles, asides, sections, and so on. Even the order in which the page is written can have a direct affect on the context and accessibility. For most users who simply want to just type a paragraph or two on a page and add a couple of images, this list of things to know is relatively small.
Hopefully you now have a basic idea of what you are getting into when building a web page or a web document on the McNeese State University website. This documentation will describe how to find and use tools for creating, editing, and managing content on this website. You will learn to understand the meanings and reasoning behind each tool so that you can properly add context with as little difficulty as possible on the McNeese website.
- Content Manager
- A content manager is a tool or a set of tools used by authors to write and build web content.