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Plan Web pages

Updated: February 26, 2009

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

 

Topic Last Modified: 2009-04-01

In this article:

Planning Web pages includes designing the appearance of your published content, determining where writers can add content on pages, and controlling which authoring features writers can use. An effective plan for Web pages helps to ensure that each type of content that your organization will publish is properly designed and available to achieve your publishing goals.

To help you understand your design options, this article first introduces the elements of pages: master pages, content pages, layout pages, style sheets, Web Parts, and server field controls. Next, this article provides guidance on how to plan each element of the Web pages in your publishing site. Because the design and configuration of layout pages helps restrict what authors can do on Web pages, this article includes guidance about using layout pages to restrict authoring.

When a Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 site user opens a Web page in a SharePoint site, that page is rendered based on a set of elements that have each been planned and designed separately in the Web site. Separating elements of a page in this way allows site planners and designers to treat different elements of the site in unique ways. For example, a site's branding and navigation can be planned and designed separately from the design of the site's content pages, so that the branding can be applied across all site content and can be updated in one place. Similarly, layout of pages can be designed separately from page content, allowing the same content to be displayed in different ways as appropriate.

A Web page based on Office SharePoint Server 2007 is an ASPX page that is dynamically rendered out of its constituent parts. The parts of the page are illustrated below:

Elements of a Web page

The following elements compose a Web page on a SharePoint site:

  • Master page   Defines the outer frame of the Web page. A master page contains the elements that you want all pages in your site to share, and it provides a single place to control all of those elements. Typically, a site uses a single site master page, although large Internet sites might use more. For example, a corporate Web site that is used to publicize more than one product could use separate master pages so that the content for each product is properly branded.

    NoteNote:
    There are two types of master pages: site master pages and system master pages. The site master page is used on published Web pages in your site. It is the master page that site users and visitors see when viewing published pages. The system master page supplies the layout of pages in the site used by site designers and authors when interacting with the site's user interface and is also used in some team site templates, such as the Wiki Site and the Document Workspace site templates. This article primarily describes planning considerations for site master pages.

    Master pages for all sites in a site collection are stored in the Master Page Gallery in the top-level site in the site collection. Because the Master Page Gallery is a SharePoint library, master pages have all the features of documents in Office SharePoint Server 2007, such as versioning, auditing, workflow, check-in and check-out, and content approval.

    Typically, master pages include the following elements:

    • Branding elements, such as corporate logos and color schemes.

    • Shared navigation elements.

    • Shared features, such as search commands and Help commands.

    • Links to cascading style sheets. (Cascading style sheets control page appearance, colors, and fonts.)

    The publishing site templates included in Office SharePoint Server 2007 include site master pages that you can use as a starting point in your page design. To customize an existing master page or create a new one, use Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 or Microsoft Visual Studio.

  • Page content   A single Pages library contains all of a site's content pages. Each item in a Pages library is a single Web page. Because the Pages library is a SharePoint library, the Web pages it contains have all the features of documents in Office SharePoint Server 2007, such as versioning and content approval.

    NoteNote:
    Although all pages in a site are in a single Pages library, Web solutions based on Office SharePoint Server 2007, such as intranet portal sites and Internet presence sites, typically consist of a tree of sites, each with its own Pages library.

    Authors can create and edit Web pages by using either of the following methods:

    • Browser-based editing. Authors create pages using the Create Page command and edit them using the Edit Page command. When creating a page, an author picks a content type and page layout, such as "(Article Page) Article page with image on right." When editing a page, authors use the editing commands available on the page to add content, pick images, and do other editing tasks.

    • Converting documents. Authors can convert documents of supported formats into Web pages. Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes converters for documents of .docx and .docm file formats.

    See Plan Web page authoring for more information about planning how Web pages will be authored, including information about configuring document converters.

    The columns associated with a Web page's content type contain the page's HTML content. They also contain links to images to display with the page and a link to the page's layout. For example, pages of the default Article Page content type include the following columns:

     

    This column Contains this content

    Byline

    The author's name

    Article Date

    The date the article is published

    Page Content

    The body of the article

    Page Image

    A graphic to accompany the article

    Image Caption

    A caption for the page image

    Rollup Image

    A graphic to display in search results

    Page Layout

    The page containing the article's layout

    Each column of content for a page is associated with a particular field control in the page's layout pages in which the content for that column is authored and displayed.

  • Layout Page   An Active Server Pages (ASPX) page that defines a layout for a type of content page. When a SharePoint site user opens a page in a browser, that page's associated layout page is first combined with the active master page (which supplies the outer frame of the page) and then the contents of the page are poured into the field controls on the layout page.

    Because a layout page must display content that is stored in the columns of a content type, it must be designed for a particular content type. For example, a layout page that is associated with the Article Page content type would have several field controls, including:

    • A Page Content field control to hold the contents of the Page Content column in the Article Page content type.

    • A Page Image field control to hold the image linked to from the Page Image column of the Article Page content type.

    Although a layout page must be designed for a single content type, a content type can be associated with multiple layouts. For example, Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes two layout pages for the Article Page content type: one that displays the image on the left side of the page and another that displays the image on the right.

    Along with controls to display the contents of a page, a layout page can include other page elements, including:

    • Web Parts

    • Web Part zones

    • Server controls

    • Cascading style sheet links to control page appearance, colors, and fonts

    For example, a page layout for a business article could include a server control that displays a stock ticker. The stock ticker would be displayed along with a page's contents whenever that layout page is used.

    Layout pages for all sites in a site collection are stored in the Master Page Gallery in the top-level site in the site collection. Because the Master Page Gallery is a SharePoint library, layout pages also have all the features of documents in Office SharePoint Server 2007, such as versioning and content approval.

Publishing sites that you create using Office SharePoint Server 2007 include layout pages that you can use as a starting point in your page design. To customize an existing layout page or create a new one, use Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 or Microsoft Visual Studio.

Master pages supply the shared framing elements of the page, including the branding of the site, its navigation features, and other common elements such as search fields and help commands. This article can help you plan your site master pages. It does not provide guidance on designing master pages' appearance or functionality. For more information about master page design, see Page design roadmap.

The site master page supplies the context of the page and should remain consistent as the user interacts with your site. We recommend that you do not change the site master page as a site user navigates from one page to another within a single site in your site collection. To supply consistent branding and user interface, you can use the same site master page across all sites in your site collection.

You might decide to change the master page in subsites in your site hierarchy to change the branding in some subsites. For example, an enterprise's Internet presence site might consist of subsites that each present a different brand of products. You can change the site master page for each subsite to reflect the distinct product brand that each subsite presents.

Before you plan master pages, plan your site structure, as described in Plan Web site structure and publishing (Office SharePoint Server). By using the site information that you recorded in the topic Determine sites and subsites, list the name of each site in your site collection in the Site column of the Plan master pages worksheet (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=73318&clcid=0x409). Then, for each site, fill in the following information in the worksheet:

  1. In the Master page column, list the name of the master page to use in the site, such as "BlueBand.Master."

  2. In the Custom column, specify the information that applies to your situation.

    • If the master page will be customized for the current site, select Yes.

    • In the Based on column, type the name of the template that it will be based on, or type None if the master page will be completely custom.

    • If the master page will not be custom for the current site, select No.

    • If the site will inherit its master page from its parent site, type the name of the parent site in the Inherits from field. (Your documenting site inheritance now will be useful later if you decide to customize the master page elsewhere in your site hierarchy and you want to identify the sites that will be affected by the changes to the master page.)

    • If the master page will be applied at the current site, leave the Inherits from field blank.

  3. Optionally in the Notes column, list instructions about how to customize the master page or about the tool to use to customize the master page, such as Office SharePoint Designer 2007.

Each content page in Office SharePoint Server 2007 consists of text, images, and other content stored as an entry in a Pages library. Planning content pages includes:

  • Determining the page content types that meet your content needs.

  • For each page content type, determining the columns to use for storing content.

Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes three page content types:

  • Welcome Page   Typically, the home page of a publishing site. It includes:

    • Columns for images to display.

    • A column for page content.

    • Columns for links to display with the page.

  • Article Page   The primary content page type. This page is designed for general-purpose Web page content. It includes:

    • Columns for images and image captions.

    • A column for page content.

    • Columns for links to display with the page.

    • A byline column.

  • Redirect Page   A page to redirect the reader to another page.

Additionally, because all three page content types inherit from the generic Page content type, they all include:

  • Columns to schedule the page's start and end dates.

  • Columns describing contact information for the author.

  • An image to display with the page when it is listed in a table of contents or other list.

  • Audience targeting information.

When planning content pages, we recommend that you use the page content types that are included in Office SharePoint Server 2007 as a starting point. The Welcome Page and Article Page content types have been designed to be generally useful and to apply across a wide range of contexts. The primary content column in both content types is the Page Content column, which is capable of holding any HTML content. Authors and site designers can control the appearance of their content by using HTML and the cascading style sheets framework. By so doing, they may not need to design other content types." Also, by carefully choosing which layout (see Planning page layouts) to use for each type of content based on the Article Page or Welcome Page, you can introduce more variety in your content presentation without requiring the introduction of additional content types.

To modify a page content type, add columns to it that will contain the new HTML, image, or other type of content. (Create columns in the Site Column Gallery to use them on multiple page types.) For example, you may want to add an "About the author" field to certain article pages, to include biographical information about page authors. To do this, add a column, of type "Publishing HTML," to the Site Column Gallery (so that it can be used in other content types), and then add that column to the Article Page content type.

After modifying a page content type, you must modify its associated layout pages by adding field controls to display the additional columns of content. For example, after adding an About the Author column to the Article Page content type, you would add an About the Author field control to associated layout pages to display the contents of that column. Planning layout pages is discussed below, in the section Planning page layouts.

To plan article pages, use the Plan article pages worksheet (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=73316&clcid=0x409). The leftmost column in the worksheet contains all the columns in the Article Page content type. Use the other columns in the worksheet to list each type of content that you want to present in your site, such as Article, Press Release, and Job Posting. After you list the types of content across the top of the worksheet, indicate, for each type of content, the columns that you want to use for that type of content, such as "Article date" and "Page content." If you determine that you need a column that is not available, add it in the first column of the Plan article pages worksheet.

It is less likely that you will need more than one welcome page to use across your site, but if you do, use the Plan welcome pages worksheet (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=73320&clcid=0x409) to plan which columns to display in each type of welcome page. However, for each subsite in your portal or Internet presence site, you will most likely want to provide a unique welcome page.

A layout page defines a layout for a content page by providing field controls into which the contents of the content page are displayed. Each layout page is associated with a particular content type, and multiple layout pages are often available for a single content type (for example, to provide alternate layouts for localized versions of content or to add or remove the display of certain fields and features from a page layout. You can create or customize a layout page, including adding new controls to display page content along with additional controls such as Web Parts and server controls, using Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 or Microsoft Visual Studio.

Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes a set of page layouts for the Welcome Page and Article Page content types. The layouts for article pages include:

 

This page layout ... Contains these page elements ...

Article page with body only

A basic page with a title and page content area.

Article page with image on left

A page with a title, page content, a page image on the left, and areas for a byline, article date, and image caption.

Article page with image on left

A page with a title, page content, a page image on the right, and areas for a byline, article date, and image caption.

Article page with summary links

A page with a title, page content, article date, byline, and a Summary Links Web Part, in which site authors can add a list of hyperlinks.

For the Welcome Page, the page layouts include:

 

This page layout ... Contains these page elements ...

Welcome page with summary links

A welcome page with content and image areas, along with two Summary Links Web Parts.

Welcome page with table of contents

A welcome page with content and image areas, along with a Table of Contents Web Part to display a hyperlinked table of contents of the site.

Welcome splash page

A simple welcome page with just an image and two Summary Links Web Parts in which your authors can add hyperlinks.

If you are using the page content types and layouts that are included with Office SharePoint Server 2007, there are no additional planning steps needed. Authors will be able to choose page types and associated layouts when they create new pages. However, if you either add new fields to a page content type or if you create entirely custom content types for publishing pages, you should plan layout pages that reflect the new or changed content types.

You can also modify a layout page by adding Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0 controls, such as Web Parts and Web Part zones, to the page. For example, you can add a Content Query Web Part, which displays a set of links returned by a configurable query, to a layout page. Note that if you place a Web Part on a layout page outside of a Web Part zone, you must configure the Web Part, and authors will not be able to change its configuration. For example, if you add a Content Query Web Part directly to a layout page, you would "lock in" the query it uses and authors would not be able to modify it.

To plan layouts for Article Pages, Welcome Pages and other page content types, use the Plan layout pages worksheet (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=73317&clcid=0x409). Create a separate worksheet for each page content type in your site, such as Article Page. For each page type, list its associated layout pages, provide descriptions of the layouts, and add notes on customizing or creating the layout pages. For example, if you add a second image field to the Article Page content type, you should specify to add a second image-displaying field control to each page layout associated with the Article Page content type.

Depending on your publishing goals, you can restrict how much freedom authors have to format their Web page content or to add items such as images and hyperlinks to pages in your site. For example, in a highly controlled Internet presence site, you may want all formatting to be defined in cascading style sheets associated with your layout pages and you may want to block writers from overriding style definitions by using inline formatting. In contrast, in a collaborative site, such as an intranet portal, you may want to give authors full freedom to format their pages and add other page items, such as Web Parts providing views of data. For example, in an intranet portal used to collaborate on product specifications, you may want to enable writers to freely use styles, hyperlinks, images, and Web Parts to maximize their ability to communicate their ideas.

You can place restrictions on layout pages in the following ways:

  • You can set properties on field controls in layout pages that restrict what authors can do.

  • You can remove Web Part zones from layout pages to restrict authors from inserting and configuring Web Parts on their pages, or you can set restrictions on Web Part zones to limit how authors can use them.

By opening your site in Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 or Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 you can edit the tags associated with field controls to restrict the types of Office SharePoint Server 2007 authoring features writers can use when editing pages in the browser window. For example, in field controls that are bound to columns of type Publishing HTML, features you can allow or restrict include:

  • Setting fonts

  • Inserting images

  • Inserting tables

  • Adding hyperlinks

  • Adding text markup, such as bold and italics

You can set authoring restrictions on other column types. For example, in field controls that are bound to columns of type Publishing Image, you can allow or restrict hyperlinks from images.

When you restrict an authoring feature on a layout page in Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 or Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, the related page editing commands in Office SharePoint Server 2007 become unavailable. For example, if you restrict table editing in a field control that contains content of type Publishing HTML, table editing commands, such as Edit Table will be unavailable in the Edit Content toolbar.

A Web Part is a server control that authors can insert into Web Part zones on pages. Web Parts display information based on their functionality, such as presenting site navigation links, SharePoint list contents, or database analytical information.

When a layout page includes one or more Web Part zones, the Web Part zones are available on pages using that layout, which enables authors to insert available Web Parts onto their content pages. If you allow authors to insert Web Parts on pages, you reduce your control over users' experience of the site. For example, a writer could insert a Table of Contents Web Part onto a page that exposes parts of your site that your do not want users to navigate to from the current page.

You can restrict authors from adding Web Parts to pages by opening the associated layout pages in Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 or Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and removing Web Part zones from them. Similarly, when designing new layout pages, omit Web Part zones to limit authors' ability to add functionality to the pages associated with those layout pages.

You can also include Web Part zones in layout pages but restrict their usage. By setting a Web Part zone's properties, you can populate the Web Part zone with one or more Web Parts and allow authors to edit the properties of those Web Parts but not let them add other Web Parts to the Web Part zone.

The following table shows layout restriction recommendations for tightly controlled, moderately controlled, and loosely controlled authoring environments:

 

Level of control Typical site Restriction recommendations

Tight

Internet presence

Strict limitations on editing field controls; other field control limitations, such as no hyperlinks from image field controls; Web Parts are placed directly on the layout page and not in Web Part zones

Moderate

Enterprise intranet portal site

Moderate or no limitations on editing field controls; Web Part Zones containing Web Parts, but authors are restricted from adding/removing Web Parts

Loose

Divisional or team portal site

No limitations on editing field controls; Web Part Zones allowed

To record your decisions about authoring restrictions on layout pages, use the Plan layout pages worksheet (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=73317&clcid=0x409). Edit the worksheet for each page content type in your site on which you want to place restrictions. Record your restriction requirements in the Notes field for each layout type.

This topic is included in the following downloadable book for easier reading and printing:

See the full list of available books at Downloadable content for Office SharePoint Server 2007.

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