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Overview of Plone

The Plone CMS Overview includes:

Site Structure

Pages that are built on the Plone content management system use page templates.  The basics to every page are:

  • Page Head
  • Content area
  • Sidebar
  • Footer

p.3 site structure

Page Templates

There are several page types that are available to publish, each with its own styling and features. Starting from the top level down, page types include:

  • Homepage
  • Section Front page
  • School Front page
  • Microsite Front page
  • Detail Flex page
  • Profile page
  • Contact page

Fonts, layout and colors are controlled by the page templates.  There is no need to worry about picking styles for your content.  There is some flexibility in layout within the content area.

  • Section Front pages include things like the About Us and Development, which are edited primarily by Marketing. Content includes key positioning of the College.

    p.4 section front

  • School Front includes the four schools and is jointly edited by Marketing and the school staff. Page may include key messaging and entry points for programs.

    p.4 school front

  • Microsite Front includes departments such as Financial Aid, Career Services, and the Centers.  There is less feature content and more direct access to key info.

    p.5 microsite front

  • Detail Flex is what majority of pages on the site are built on, which is the most open as far as format and features.

    p.5 detail flex

Page Elements

Pages are made up of content elements including:

  • Body copy (content area)
  • Images (page head, sidebar)
  • Modules (content area, sidebar)
  • Portlets (sidebar)

Body copy – this is typically the main content section of the page, and most of what you’ll be editing.  Think of this much like a Word document.  Editing features are similar to Word.

Modules -- are optional features that have special formatting, and are available by page type such as a show/hide section for a detail flex page or a Quick Info section for a profile page. Modules are filled in as you're creating the page.

Portlets – are optional features that are independent of page type, and used primarily in the sidebar.  Examples include promo boxes, related links, news, calendar and multimedia.  Portlets are created after your page is created, in a separate  “manage portlets” function.  Click here for how to build portlets.


Content Responsibilities

Marketing Ownership

Content that is universal – crosses departments – and relates to the overall positioning of the College will be maintained by Marketing Communications.

Department Ownership

Content that is specific to a department or area will be maintained by staff who are “content experts” and who are trained.


Editing access will be set through “permissions,” according to what area of the site you maintain. There are two types of publishing permissions:

  • Direct publishing – you publish your content immediately
  • Edit-and-submit – you make additions/changes to your page and it goes to a supervisor for approval and publishing

Portlet Permission

Permission to use and edit additional tools such as “portlets” depends on your level of training.  Publishers must receive portlet training before gaining access to them.

Creating Good Website Content

The site is built on a hierarchy of pages: it starts with the most general information, and gets more specific as the user drills down. Top level pages should be more directional and introductory; lower pages can have more copy.

Copy should be as brief as possible, while answering what the reader has come for.  For example, if I am on the Career Services page, I want to see a list of the services offered and how to get started.

Pages should whenever possible give the reader a “next step,” such as reading more, applying for something, contacting someone, etc.  This link should not be buried in text, but stand on a line of its own.

Mission-type statements are important, but are typically of secondary interest to the reader and should not be the only copy on a page.  Call out boxes or sidebars are useful for displaying this type of content.

You are the expert as far as your sections content, however if you need recommendations on page layout or text editing, feel free to call Marketing and Communications.

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