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Sharing content

By Ladoo posted on 29 Apr 2012
 

It's difficult for Matrix to fulfil the role of a content management system without putting some thought into how your organisation will use the system. Help your organisation use Matrix more effectively by encouraging users to share and reuse content.

Encourage content sharing

If practical to do so, give your Backend users at least read permission to the entire system, not just the sites they work with, because this will allow users to:

  • browse through other websites in your organisation to see if there is any content that can be reused;
  • learn how other users have set up their site.

Encourage other business areas to reuse the content and functionality in your site by creating a centralised shared content folder. A shared content folder makes it clear which resources are appropriate to be reused and provides greater opportunity for other users to keep that content current.

Documents

Before we look at managing documents in a similar way to managing images, you may want to consider that the best way to manage documents on a website is not to use them at all.
Documents are inherently less shareable than other assets in Matrix because they can’t be directly edited, and because they can't be transformed or integrated into a specific design. In fact, just about all you can do with documents is link to them. Documents are also:

  • often not written in a format suitable for the web;
  • almost always less accessible than web pages;
  • take longer to download; and
  • require additional software to open.

Note: For more good reasons not to use documents, see Jakob Neilsen's alertbox article PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption , almost all of which also applies to Word Documents as well as PDFs.

Where to put your Documents

When documents are required, they need to go somewhere. Generally the two options are to put your documents:

  1. Under the top-level Media folder or under an equivalent Media folder within a section of your system. It makes sense to categorise documents into sub-folders under this folder, just as you would with a shared network drive. For example, documents could be categorised by file type, year, topic, or event.
  2. Under each asset that links to the document. This means if the Annual Report page links to annual_report.pdf, the PDF asset would be a child of the Annual Report page. If the PDF asset is used on other pages, it should also be linked as a child of those pages.

Each method has its own pros and cons, and you may even want to consider using one method for one site, and the other method for another site.


Pros

Cons
tick
It's immediately obvious which documents relate to an asset, increasing the chances of that document being maintained.
cross
The Asset Map becomes more cluttered with documents and each document may need to be hidden from menus.
tick
Documents don't rely on a folder structure to be found. If you can navigate the website, you can probably find the document.
cross
Lacking a holistic view of all a website's documents means content reuse and sharing is less likely, and in fact, the duplication of documents is more likely.
 

 Documents in the Media folder


Pros

Cons
tickAll your documents are in the same place.crossYou have to use the Linking screen to determine where a document is being used.
tickDocuments can be categorised in any way you please.
crossThe context of a document is less obvious.
tickIt's easier to audit what documents are in the system.
crossLarge organisations will need to work harder to keep permissions up to date for this folder.

Having your documents and eating them too?

It is possible to take a hybrid approach and link documents both under the Media folder and under the child of the page that is using the document. However, while the previous two methods are easily enforceable through the use of Triggers, a hybrid method is more difficult to enforce.
Assuming we did want to enforce a hybrid method, the two problems would be:

  1. If a document is created under the Media folder, Matrix can’t automatically determine where that document is being used, and so can’t automatically link this document under the appropriate assets.
  2. If a document is created under the asset which is linking to it, Matrix can’t automatically determine which sub-folder of the Media folder is appropriate to use.



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