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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:
November 7, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License
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Topicality versus Prettiness: How to Enable Easy Content Management during Web Development
Inke Kolb, Fraunhofer Institute for Media Communication, Germany
Dieter Strecker, GMD - German National Research Center for Information, Germany
http://www.beethoven-haus-bonn.de/

Mini-Workshop: Gain a Skill - 3

The concept of the World Wide Web was developed to enable scientists to easily publish their research results and discuss them with others all over the world. Nowadays the web is turning into a marketing platform, where more stress is put on the look and feel and less on the information itself. But, in the end, the information is the key to our potential. Prettiness may attract users once, but only useful information and topicality make them come back again and again.

To ensure topicality it is necessary to integrate updating of the web content in the conventional workflow. Since museums are operated with restricted budgets and human resources the museum staff must be enabled to edit the web site themselves. Instead of having to learn fancy web techniques like HTML, JavaScript, Flash etc, museum staff should be provided with an easy-to-learn interface that allows editing all types of content.

In the development of the Digital Beethoven House we emphasize the autonomy of the content provider. Easy maintenance is relevant for each design decision. A content management system provides the editor with a single interface to the web site. With this interface, not only textual content and images, but also navigational elements and whole pages can be added, modified or deleted without the need for specialized technical know-how.

The Digital Beethoven House consists of three components: the Internet presence, the digital library and the Digital Salon. The library will contain 26,000 pages of original manuscripts, music scores, letters, first editions, illustrations of Beethoven and many other personalities, places, music instruments, and ephemera, together with descriptive metadata. In the Digital Salon the visitors will be able to experience Beethoven's life and work in the form of an immersive 3D virtual reality.

The online presence is based on the web content management system SixCMS. (www.six.de) The main modules of the web site are already available in German. A complete English version will follow at the end of 2003. The paper elaborates the main development guidelines gained from experience in the development of the Digital Beethoven House online presence.