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Should the Content Editor do this? #1 Image Work

Whenever I see review CMS-features I always ask myself: Is this something my customer is capable of using - without messing everything up? So I ask you: when should the UI allow the content-editor to do something, and when should it not allow Mr. Marketing or Mrs. Secretary to do something?

Let's start with an obvious one: Almost all of us agree that a normal content-editor should neither install modules nor skins. They don't understand the security issues, it could kill the system and they may never know when they break something. 

So let's look at the more controversial issues. Image-Handling, Module-Configuration or Installing Apps without Security risks

One of my favorite is image-handling


The default DNN-way gives the content-editor a lot of power and responsibilities:

  1. The content-editor uploads images. The DNN-way requires that you must train your customer in 
    1. image-formats (no, BMP shouldn't be uploaded and PDF is not an image...)
    2. CSS-classes (please use this class to float, and that for the border)
    3. compression and sizes (no! don't upload a 3MB picture, and bigger than 100x100)
    4. that dpi has nothing to do with the pixels on the screen
  2. The content-editor fiddles with the images after uploading - again you must train your customer to
    1. use the crop/resize tools
    2. file naming and placement
    3. understand difference between thumbnailing and "resizing"
  3. The content-editor places the image within some HTML - again requiring training for...
    1. what HTML is 
    2. table and CSS-placements
    3. image-pixels (make it 200x300 for that page, and if you want to float, then...)
    4. basics of responsive design
    5. why squishing the image is really easy, and why you shouldn't do it
  4. If the design is retina / high-res optimized - you need more training for...
    1. tricks on retina-optimizations
    2. training to provide images larger than needed - again with the compression to consider

the way I recommend it

We (2sic) have seen so many web sites destroyed by customers filling in content. And even though they messed it up, it wasn't their mistake: the tool made them do it. So after may years we choose to change it. Our recommendations:

  1. The content-editor should NOT worry about file-size, image-size, placement on the page. Retina, CSS and cropping should also not be part of his repertoire. The content-editor is usually not very good at this and should not need training in these topics - the CMS should do this automatically based on the Web-Designers pre-configuration
  2. The content-editor should just upload the image way too big - the system will take care of the rest
  3. The content-editor MUST choose which layout he wants (image right, left, slider etc.) but not how to do this

How can we do this?

  1. Disable almost all functionality of the WYSIWYG - especially inserting images. 
  2. Provide pre-designed, intelligent templates which take care of image-placement, image-proportions, retina-optimizations, resizing/thumbnailing, etc.

Want to see some examples? Just install the module 2sxc - the default templates will do all this (except for the retina-optimizations). You can achieve similar results with many other modules - assuming they provide a templating system. 

Agree/disagree? Got a better suggestion? 

With love from Switzerland,

Daniel Mettler grew up in the jungles of Indonesia and is founder and CEO of 2sic internet solutions in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, an 20-head web specialist with over 600 DNN projects since 1999. He is also chief architect of 2sxc (2SexyContent - see forge), an open source module for creating attractive content and DNN Apps.


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