[thelist] Getting compliant code from normal people

Rob Day rday at tsl.state.tx.us
Thu Feb 26 09:52:30 CST 2004

My problem: I'm at the early stages of redesigning a site that currently relies heavily on tables, font tags, and presentational mark-up in general. One of the goals for the redesign is to produce structurally coded pages that validate as XHTML transitional and use CSS for presentation. Unfortunately, our web team will be producing the majority of the content for this site.
The members of the web team use Dreamweaver and most wouldn't know HTML if they saw it. These are sharp people, but authoring web pages is not anyone's primary function. They use WYSIWYG editors just like they were using Word. I can produce templates that would make Jeffrey Zeldman giddy, but I don't know how to get my folks to produce standards compliant content. Although Dreamweaver can produce pages that will validate, that doesn't always cut it. I need the web authors to use <blockquote> only when they're quoting a block of text, use lists when they're making a list, etc. How do I get them to produce standards compliant mark-up? That's my problem.

Option 1 -- Educate them:
On the surface this seems like a great idea. Unfortunately, I won't have the time to train them. It's possible that we could bring someone in to do the training or send the web authors to some classes. There are a few problems with this. We are a state agency with rather limited financial resources and this could get pricey. When an employee leaves, this new-found expertise leaves with them. These positions don't pay enough to demand that a new hire be web-savvy. Also, I've never found a training provider that teaches standards compliance. They tend to focus on FrontPage or creating mouseover buttons. I'd welcome any suggestions for training materials that start at a pretty basic level and teach standards compliance.

Option 2 -- Tie their hands:
I'm looking for something like a CMS that will work with templates I create, but allow the authors very limited design control. Sort of like fill-in-the-blanks page creation. I'd be happy with any sort of front end that not only validates but generates structurally proper XHTML. I realize that I could roll my own, but I'd really rather avoid that for obvious reasons. My ideal would be something open source. Barring that, it needs to be affordable. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Option 3 -- ???
I'm interested in any suggestions. You've read the description. If you know of a solution that isn't in the direction of either of the previous options, I still want to hear it.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this rather long post. I hope that there's someone out there that's been in a similar situation and has some advice. Thanks.

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