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Published: 15th Jun 2005


A Guideline For 3rd Party Designers

Topics Covered:

Introduction



Most BengeWeb websites run within the "Common Execution Environment". This environment is made up of various shared resources:

  *  Shared common scripts
  *  Shared common data
  *  Common database table design
  *  Shared common Images
  *  Consistent build and implementation processes
  *  Hosting service and management processes
  *  Consistent "LAMP" hosting environment - Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP

The ability to share such resources makes the process of designing, building and hosting a website very efficient which becomes a competitive advantage in regard to pricing for the client.

All websites designed by BengeWeb staff utilise the common execution environment and it is highly recommended that any 3rd party designer do the same to take advantage of the efficiencies described above.

To utilise the common execution environment (and BengeWeb modules) a website may be designed by a 3rd party (usually a web or graphic designer) but it must be built, implemented and hosted by BengeWeb Services.

If a website has been completely designed, built and ready to be implemented without reference to the common execution environment, then BengeWeb offers an industry standard hosting service at a competitive price that does not utilise the common execution environment or any of the BengeWeb Modules (see below).

This document describes the flexibilities and boundaries the common execution environment provides so a web or graphic designer may layout pages that conform to the common execution environment.



BengeWeb Pre-Written Modules



In addition to the common execution environment, BengeWeb has several pre-written "modules" that may be optionally allocated to websites. Each module provides a set of functionality that can be easily "plugged in" to client websites.

Examples of modules are :
? Image Galleries
? Customer Relationship Management
? Events and Calendar
? Online Documents
? Notice Boards and Guest Books
? Voting Polls
? Online Orders / Shopping Cart

Essentially a module is a set of pre-written web pages that provide functionality anticipated to be re-usable across multiple client websites.

Each BengeWeb module has been written to take advantage of the common execution environment.

All modules come with a set of password-protected web pages that allow the nominated client website administrator to maintain the content displayed by that module. These content maintenance web pages form the basis of the BengeWeb Content Management System (CMS).

BengeWeb modules are designed to fit within the unique and customised layout of specific client websites, thus allowing the "look" of a module to be quite different when used across different websites.

When evaluating the requirements of a new client website, BengeWeb will decide whether any requirement can be directly met by the functionality of an existing module, - if so then that module is allocated to the client website.

Please refer to the BengeWeb website for the full list of available modules:

When part of a client website's required funtionality cannot be matched to an existing module, then there are three options. BengeWeb may :

1. enhance a current module to meet the functionality requirement
2. write a new module that matches the functionality requirement
3. write a set of customised pages (see below) to provide the functionality requirement

BengeWeb recommend designers review the breath of functionality of the existing modules before designing pages that require a customised page to be built.

In particular, designers should review the flexibility of the Online Documents Module (below). The Online Documents module provides a very flexible method of presenting text, images and URL links as specified from within the BengeWeb CMS.

BengeWeb welcome suggestions for improvements to the modules so they may suit a wider range of client functionality requirements.


Custom Designed Web Pages


A customised page is any page that has been built by BengeWeb to fill a client requirement that could not be filled by an existing module.

Customised web pages utilise the BengeWeb common execution environment and therefore can be used on websites that also use BengeWeb modules.

Customised pages have the following disadvantages compared to pages generated from the modules :
*  As customised pages need to be manually built by a skilled web developer, they take longer to create and therefore are significantly more expensive.

*  The content on customised pages cannot be maintained by the BengeWeb CMS. Customised pages are therefore inherently more expensive to maintain because a skilled web developer is required to make the smallest of changes.


Online Documents Module



As the functionality of BengeWeb modules expands, the need to build customised pages has lessened over time.

In particular, the Online Documents module has been designed to be extremely flexible. This module allows the creation of web pages via the CMS.

Within an Online Document, text may be grouped into paragraphs and subjects under varying styles of headings.

Images may be supplanted from the Image Galleries module into an Online Document. These images may be displayed above, below, to the left or right of the subject's textual content and may have captions attached. The website administrator may additionally choose the display size of each supplanted image from a standard drop-down list.

There are currently six styles of subject headings, and the CMS allows the heading text to be changed by allowing manipulation of font, colour, bold or italic properties.

Textual content within a subject may be bolded, italic, or justified left/right/centre. The website administrator may also select from a large range of colours for the textual content, and/or have the text indented from left margin.

Subjects may have URL links attached, thus allowing navigation to another web page (or another website) when visitors are viewing the Online Document.

Here are various examples of Online Documents:

The web page you're currently reading is also an example of an online document.

As you can see from the above examples, the Online Documents module can produce web pages of varying layouts and styles, and like all BengeWeb modules, utilises the pre-set page layout of each uniquely designed website.


Designing Websites For The BengeWeb Environment



To take full advantage of the BengeWeb common execution environment, a web page needs to broken down into it's component parts. In general, these component parts are common to every page on a specific website.

As the site designer, you specify position, size and layout of the components for your client website.

The page components:

Header

The Header component generally sits across the top of each page and contains various sub-components:

Site Name :- Name of the Client organisation

Logo :- As supplied from the client. If the logo contains the client organisation name, there may be no need to use the Site Name component above.

Main Heading :- This is the title of the page. Each page within the website would have a different title

Sub-Heading :- An optional component that further describes the content of the page.

Main Menu

The menu component contains the menu items. The menu may appear across the top of the page (below or even part of the header) down the left or right of the page and/or across the bottom of the page (as part of the footer).

Menu Items :- Each menu item links to one a page on the website. Not all pages within a website necessarily need a menu item linking to them.

Primary Content Container

This component is a large rectangular area in the middle of the page, below the header and above the footer. The primary content container is usually the largest component of any page.

Generally all other page components consistently surround the primary content container giving each page within a website the same look and feel. The Primary Content Container is also in the same position on every page but the content within the container is specific to the page being displayed.
Footer

The footer runs across the bottom of every page. It may optionally contain:
 * a repeat of the menu items using a small font
 * a business sales by-line
 * the business name copyright notice
 * a "to top" link image

Both customised web pages and module pages will utilise the layout and content of the page components as laid out for a client website.

Most components are optional and have varying "styles" to display their content.

In it's simplest form, the process of designing a website to take advantage of the BengeWeb common execution environment comprises simply of determining the content of each page component and laying out where those components are to reside on the page. BengeWeb will then take the component layout and build it into the new website.

In addition, colour schemes, images, font styles/sizes may be applied the components.


Page Component Layout Examples


Below are some sample layouts of the various page components. By no means is this the definitive list of acceptable web page layouts when wanting to utilise the BengeWeb common execution environment.

If you have a layout that you think may not suit, please contact BengeWeb to discuss. There is a lot flexibility when dealing with these page components, so chances are we will be able to accommodate your design even if it varies from the examples below.


Sample Layout 1




Sample Layout 2




Sample Layout 3




Sample Layout 4



Sample Layout 5




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