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OWT CMS and LMS Documentation Site       https://cms.owt.com

How To Get Started

Before You Dive In

Before you start actually using or at least familiarizing yourself with the CMS/LMS tools we strongly urge you to read the following sections of the documentation:

  • Introductory Concepts - these are brief introductions and explanations that we suggest for both CMS and LMS customers regardless of your role in managing the system. This will not take long.
  • Essential CMS Documentation - for those that will be managing site content.  If you only have LMS-related responsibilities you may skip to the Essential LMS Documentation. 
    • In the Basic CMS Administration course Chapter 1 is the "Introduction to CMS3 Administration".  We would love for you to read this entire chapter. You may not see the relevance of this content at first and so we urge you to come back and review this chapter again after you have had a chance to get some hands-on time wih the CMS.  This chapter might take as much as 30 minutes to read carefully but it covers essential concepts and nomenclature you simply must comprehend. 
  • Essential LMS Documentation - if your role will involve any kind of managment using the LMS tools then you should read Chapter 1 in the LMS Administrator Guide titled "LMS Overview and Access".  This is a short chapter that won't take long to review but includes a few basic concepts you must understand. 

You may or may not have had some hands-on training with one of our staff members. That training is really just intended to show you the basics and let you see how easy it really is to do basic content editing and managing certain features of the system. This would vary dramatically as each site has a different focus and potentially each user will have a different goal or job function when using the system as well.  While you are reading some of the introductory documentation you may want to have a separate browser window open with your Admin Center open so that you can look at how things are implmented on your site as it may be somewhat different than the documentation details.  

Tech 2If you are new to using either the CMS or the LMS we have some advice based on years of experience in guiding new customers through the process of learning what they need to know about these powerful tools. 

We are very aware that there is a lot of documentation here and by no means do we suggest that as the first step you read and try to digest all of this documentation.  Much of the documentation is really intended as a reference that you can use when you need to accomplish a specific task and need some help. 

However, there is come content here we really would like you to read before you get into things.  This content was created to give you some concepts that will help you learn these tools and save you time in the long run.  If you just can't make yourself read what we feel is required reading then you will unnecessarily struggle and waste much of your time.  

The purpose of this getting started section is to detail what reading is required, strongly suggested and simply reference material and give you some idea of when you need to consult this information. 

Many users will tell us they are visual learners and we understand that. However, before you can learn something that has a certain amount of complexity you must posses some background context and some basic knowledge that just can't be learned purely from a hands-on methodology.  We have endeavored to minimize the complexity of these tools as much as we can but with power comes a certain amount of complexity that cannot be avoided.  Tools related to daily site or customer management are designed to be simpler to operate than tools relating to site organization, layout and design. 

We feel that if you set out to achieve a good comprehension of the basics of content management before you try to tackle more advanced features you will save yourself a great deal of time and frustration. 

Your First Hands On Experience

Point LeftNow that you have some background it is time to actually use the CMS.  If you have some specific role using the LMS you can get started there as well.  

By now you should have at least logged in and looked around a bit.  Regardless of your role you need to have some familiarity with the Admin Center.  Every role will only see what they are configured to see so we can't really make a universal reference for all users but there are some features that all administrators will see.  Familiarize yourself with these basic features:

  • The Admin Center menus - both the segmented accordion menus as well as the pull-down menus at the top of the screen.  Most features are in both menu systems but some are only available in one of the systems. Features that are only in the accordion (segmented) menu (you may not have access to all of these depending upon your access privileges):
    • Notes - a simple notepad system that can be a powerful way of keeping notes about your usage of the CMS/LMS or really anything a notepad can be used for.  Notes may be marked as Public so any administrator could read them or private (User) notes that only you may view.  Page Notes are a great way to make notes related to a particular page on the site.  In the segmented menu these notes are not well organized but in the Admin Fx menu you can view notes for the page you are viewing quite easily.
    • Information - this is a reference area that probably isn't going to interest you at first. 
    • Dashboard - if your site has a configured Dashboard that is shown here.  
    • OWT CMS Version information area - some specialized tools exist here but this is more of an advanced area. 
  • In the top Admin Menu (pull-down version) all of the options you are able to view in the segmented menu are duplicated here along with the Admin Fx menu where some handy tools exist to help you manage your site. 

Both menu systems may have access to special administrative menu features that can't be documented as they are customized for your site.  Even the labelling of this section is custom. 

At this time we suggest you click on each of the menu segments and look around the pull-down menus to learn how these menu systems work.  Keep in mind that the segmented version is only available when you are viewing the Admin Center itself but the top pull-down menu is available from all pages on the site, administrative or public, after you have logged into and viewed the Admin Center in your current session.  

What's Next

After you have looked around and familiarized yourself with at least many of the possibilities available from the Admin Center you are ready to at least simulate some actual administration. 

It is far easier to edit existing content than create new content until you have some familiarity so we suggest that you do just that.  However, if your site is public and you really can't have the public seeing the results of your learning experience early on you may want to create a special page to play with.  

Once you have a place to play around we encourage you to do just that.  Here some suggestions on features to play with initially:

  • The content editor - add some text to the Brief.  Bold some text. Align some text.  Select a different Font Family and Font Size and color some text.  Create a list.  Spellcheck your page. Create a link to another page or URL using the link tool.  
  • Link to another content category in the Linked Content Categories segment. 
  • Add a graphic using the Graphics segment (not the only way you can do this but this is the easiest way generally). 

Make many changes to your playground article and click on Update between changes and Preview Page to see your changes as often as you like to get familiar with these basic features.  

You can keep this article around to play with at any time or you can just click on Delete from the Edit window and delete it altogether. 

As a content administrator that has logged in and viewed the Admin Center you can browse your site and on most pages you will see EDIT CONTENT links. Clicking on one of these links will take you into the Content Manager and allow you to edit that specific article. This can be a huge time saver for you as this way you do not have to be terribly familiar with the site structure and the related Content Categories.  Articles are organized by Content Category and arranged in Levels but most administrators don't even need to know this if they use this technique to locate their content.  

Alternately, you can search from the Content Manager listing screen by the Content Category quite easily.  On a large site this might be a bit confusing though so at least initially we suggest using the EDIT CONTENT links as your way of finding and editing content. 

The LMS has a similar edit methodology if you are a content author where you would click on a  icon (or button) at the bottom of a course page to edit the content section.  

Moving On

Learning the basics is critical. What we have covered above is very important as the Content Manager is the most commonly used feature in the CMS by far.  

Of course there is more.  Much more.  What you choose to learn now really depends on what your responsibilities are on the site.  If you are responsible for all of it then you can really start playing with just about anything but you will want to think about what the content is like on your site and what you are most likely to be managing and start there.  

Since the Content Manager is the most common tool used in site management this might be a good time to review Chapter 4 of our Basic CMS Administration course titled "The Content Manager".  

There is a log of content in this course that may be relevant to you if you need to manage any of the following content you may want to check out the Basic CMS Administration Course and review any relevant chapters including:

  • A Calendar
  • Photo Galleries
  • Media (including PDF files etc.)

There are some more advanced features documented in this course as well but we urge you to walk before you run and don't get bogged down on more advanced features before you have achieved some decent prowess with the basic features.  You may also want to read the chapter on the WYSIWYG editor (Full Editor) as this tool is of critical importance when doing most any content management. 

At this point we encourage you to review the other CMS and/or LMS courses on this site or even some of the How To Guides to learn about some of the possibilities and then use these tools on your site to re-enforce your knowledge. 

Both the CMS and the LMS have a myriad of tools. This is a very powerful system that is designed to support a tremendous amount of functionality.  So many of the tools work similarly to each other that once you have learned a few tools you can start using other tools and mostly know how to use them already.  However, there are many tools that have specialized features that are somewhat specific to a particular management tool.  Many of these tools support direct links to the related documentation so you don't have to hunt for the specific pages within our documentation course material.  Look for the  icon usually located below and to the right of the main listing content displayed in each management tool (Manager).  These contextual links can be very helpful in learning some of the less obvious features available.