Microsoft Content Management Server provides an infrastructure for building Web sites characterized by particularly well-managed content. By this time in the history of the Web, most us have experienced the opposite on many occasions. Who among the readers of this chapter have never clicked a link and received the classic "page not found" error. Indeed, it has happened, and continues to happen, frequently enough that a great many nontechnical people are now familiar with the completely internal error code associated with such failures: 404.
Some of the common problems viewers see on Web sites include out-of-date content, poorly edited content, and content presented inconsistently from page to page. While many of these types of Web site flaws are not critical, they do convey that a Web site was not constructed professionally. While it is clearly difficult to characterize how a tendency toward such mistakes would reflect on a business's bottom line, it does seem safe to assume that it can not possibly help.
How does poorly managed Web site content arise? Once found, broken links are very easy to fix. Most text editing programs include spell checkers, and some even help with proper syntax. It is not difficult to devise a standard layout for pages and tell people to use it. Basically, the problem seems to arise from the high volume of content and rapid rate of change that so many contemporary Web sites experience. Often there are many people changing the content, making it difficult to maintain consistency. Other times, only a few people are assigned to make more changes than they can reasonable make without introducing errors.
Content Management Server addresses these problems through a well architected design. One of the fundamental concepts Content Management Server employs involves the concept of page templates. A page template comprises a basic page that contains a set of common elements that will be exactly the same on all pages based on the template. For those page elements that need to be different from page to page, the elements that make the pages unique, the page template contains "placeholders." There are different kinds of placeholders, which reserve space on the page of a particular type of content. Some placeholders are defined to reserve space for an image, others reserve space for text, and so on.
Content Management Server accommodates people with different skills working together to create a Web site. When someone authors content using Content Management Server, after they have chosen an appropriate template and replaced its placeholders with real content, after they have saved their changes and finished creating the page, the page is automatically submitted to a designated editor who can review the page and either accept it or reject it.
Differentiating user roles is a central theme in Content Management Server, allowing the process of Web site creation to be optimized in a number of different ways that correspond to designing your content in a professional manner. The workflow process, which allows you to submit all new and updated pages automatically to editors for approval, represents one such feature.