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Site Features

An introduction to the major public features of your web site.

This document introduces the basic features of your web site. Many of these features are customizable, or may be turned off outright. So if you've already begun to customize the site, or you're inheriting maintenance from another, your site may look very different.

Page Banner

Page BannerAt the upper-left of the page is a headline that should contain your organization's name. The text is customizable on the default sub-form of the site's edit page. This page is also hyperlinked to the homepage of your site.

One of the most common site customizations is to replace this text with a graphical image, often drawn from an organization's letterhead, and usually incorporating your logo.

Site Actions

Site Actions In the upper-right-hand corner of every page are a couple of generally useful links.

Site Map

This link leads to a map, in outline format, of your entire site.

Contact

This link leads to a page with a simple contact form. Information from a submitted form is relayed to the public contact e-mail address that you specify on the admin sub-form of the site's edit page.

Search Form

Search Form The search form allows a viewer to search your site for text content. Nearly everything you add to the site is automatically indexed, including PDFs. Note that the search returns headlines and content descriptions. This is a good reason to make these meaningful when you're creating or editing content.

If your site doesn't have much content, you may find the search form a distraction. It may be turned off via your edit interface.

Navigation Tabs

Navigation Tabs The purpose of the site navigation tab feature is to provide quick navigation to the major areas of your site. When a site is freshly created, these tabs will link to your homepage, a news listing, and an events list. It will also have a tab for all folders you create at the top-most level of your site.

If your site is simple, you may wish to turn off the display of the navigation tabs. You may also selectively suppress display of the news or event tabs and turn off the mechanism that creates tabs for top-level folders.

Log In Link

Log In Link At the right side of the page-top's shaded horizontal bar is a "log in" link. Follow this link to enter your editing credentials and make changes to your site.

After you log in, the "log in" link will disappear, to be replaced by links to pages that allow you to edit your personal preferences, undo recent changes and log out.

You may suppress the "log in" link by turning it off in the "layout" sub-form of the site edit page. If it's turned off, you may log in by just using the URL of your site plus "/edit".

Bread Crumbs

Bread Crumbs In web design terminology, "bread crumbs" are device that show the path (think Hansel and Gretel) through a web site's hierarchy of information from the home page to the current page. On your site, they show in the upper-left of a page, right under the navigation tabs, with the words "you are here:".

Bread crumbs are a well-proven and recognized device for helping users (who may not know how a particular page fits into your site map) locate themselves. However, they're not very useful if your site has a shallow architecture, and you may turn them off.

Column Layout and Portlets

The vertical middle of your homepage (under the banner, above the footer) is broken into three columns. The centermost column is the particular page's content. The left and right column are reserved for "portlets," boxed content that you might think of as sidebars. When newy created, your site will use the left column for a navigation outline. The right column is only displayed on the homepage, and shows recent news items and upcoming events. You may turn off these columns, and the main content of the page will expand to fill the space.

Title, Description & Body

Title, Description, Body The main content area will always include a title (or headline). There may also be, in bold under the title, a description of the page content. If the content is a page, the title and description will be followed by body text. This varies, though, for different content types.

Page Actions

Page Actions Follow the horizontal line under the page title, and you'll see icons that offer the viewer convenient options for page content actions.

The envelope icon is a link to a form that will allow the viewer to mail a link for the current page to a friend. The printer icon prints the page.

A note on printing: When a page from your site is printed, the browser should employ a special print stylesheet to present the page. The print presentation emphasizes the page content, and suppresses most graphics and sidebar clutter. This is deliberate, and we think it serves well the purposes of folks who want an optimally useful hard copy of the page's content. It occasionally dismays the proud site maintainer, though, who wants to print a page with all the decoration. If you need to print a copy of the web page as it looks on a browser, use your computer's copy window feature (Alt-PrtScn on a Windows PC) to copy an image of the current window; then past that into a graphics program.

Footer

Footer The shaded area near the page bottom is the footer. Its most common use is to give the name, address and contact information for an organization.

Colophon

Colophon A colophon is a page at the end of a book that gives details about its production. In the vocabulary of web design, it's usually the text content at a page's bottom that provides credits and licensing details.

The colophon of your site may contain two optional items:

License
Do you wish others to be able to reuse the content of your site without having to ask you for permission? If the answer is yes, it's appropriate to add a licensing notice. Your site has an option that will allow you to choose from among the most popular Creative Commons licenses. If a Creative Commons license isn't appropriate, you may wish to add your own notice to your site's footer.
Credit
You may wish to credit DCN for assistance in providing your site. Credits of this sort help other organizations find out about our services.
by mcmahon — last modified 2006-09-22 09:51
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