cost of site upkeep
by Alan Zisman (c) 2003 First published in Business in Vancouver
Issue #714 July1-7 2003, High Tech Office column
Where do all those Web page come
from? Anticipating a mass market of individuals wanting to make their
own, software companies like Adobe, Symantec,Claris, and others all released easy-to-use Web page
creation software, all products that are now nowhere to found.
Most business Web sites are,
instead, the creation of professional designers using pro-level tools
like Macromedia’s Dreamweaver. Many
of those sites need to be frequently updated, adding press releases, or
reflecting relatively minor price or product changes. And that presents
Should you bring back that
high-priced outside design consultant every time you need to change a
few words on a page? Or should you buy expensive software and put it in
the hands of clerical staff, giving them the power to make extensive
changes to your site’s design?
Macromedia’s new $150 Contribute
may be the answer to this problem. It’s a relatively-affordable new
twist on easy-to-use Web page creation software. Where the earlier,
no-longer-available products like Adobe PageMill or Claris HomePage
aimed at helping individuals build Web pages from the ground up,
Contribute is aimed at businesses, giving designated employees the
ability to edit existing pages or add new pages to a Web site without
being able to tamper with the existing design.
Users don’t need to know anything
about HTML coding to use Contribute to update their business’s Web
site. Instead, Contribute works with Internet Explorer, letting users
browse the Web to find the page that needs updating. A click on an Edit
button replaces the browser with a set of editing tools, which act like
a familiar word processor. Users can insert or replace text, change
pictures, work with tables, or create links. Information currently
existing in files saved by programs like Microsoft Word
or Excel can be dragged
and dropped into the Web page. The updated pages can be easily
published back on the Web site.
In the background, company’s IT
departments need to set up access to the Web site, using Contribute (or
Dreamweaver) to create encrypted connection keys; these ensure that
only authorized users can make changes to the site. Users access can be
limited in a variety of ways to protect the basic design from unwanted
changes. Contribute includes useful features, such as ensuring that two
users cannot overwrite each other’s work. Templates can be used so that
new pages fit into the site’s core design. And new pages can be passed
around for comments prior to publishing them onto the Web site.
Based on Macromedia’s Dreamweaver
engine, Contribute works well on sites developed with the full product.
It can also be used on Web pages developed with other tools, such as
Adobe GoLive or Microsoft FrontPage. Unlike some Web page creation
programs, it produces clean HTML code that is easily viewed in most
Currently, Contribute is
Windows-only; Macromedia expects to release a Mac version later this
year. Users may find themselves needing more than the Spartan printed
Quickstart guide included in the package. Macromedia
Contribute for Windows by Tom Negrino ($32,
Peachpit Press) or Roadmap to Macromedia Contribute by
Josph Lowery ($38, Macromedia Press) both offer tightly-written
references, making it easy for users to hone in on just what they need
to get up and running with the program.
Ironically, by offering less power,
Macromedia Contribute can empower users to make their own changes to
their business Web site, knowing that they can do so safely without
affecting the site’s design or structure.
Buy Macromedia Contribute from Amazon.com