in Content Management Systems

Design Principles for Content Management Applications

I’m working on a content management application – the part of the content management system the authors and administrators use – and jotted down a few principles to follow. They may not be applicable in every case, but expanding along these lines might lead to some design patterns.



  • Manage content, not pages. This makes content reuse easier.

  • Reuse existing content when possible. The interface should make it easy to


    do so.


  • Content should improve the user experience. When deciding whether to reuse


    content or create new content that will facilitate a significantly better user experience, create new content.


  • Store content once: Do not create (or allow the user to create) copies.

  • Facilitate quick updating: Reduce need to update the site through less


    convinient processes, such as uploading templates outside of the CMA.


  • Content is valuable: Content takes a long time to create and update. Do


    not delete or expire content unless absolutely necessary. In general, more content is better.


  • Separate content from presentation: wherever possible, separate display


    text from HTML and other formatting information.


  • Design CMA display to resemble CDA: when possible, this helps to present


    authors with a familiar visual design