Manage My Content, System!
What is a content management system (CMS) and why do you need one? First we must share our disclaimer that it’s rare we feel you shouldn’t have one. We recommend implementing a CMS for nearly all sites unless your business is full of mad coders. In other words, if you foresee necessary updates to your site by a non-coder and you have the budget for one, then you’ll want a CMS. Don’t forget that while it costs money upfront, you neither have to wait on your web design firm to make the changes for you nor get their bill for the added work!
So, what is a content management system?
A content management system is quite literally a tool which allows users to manage the content of a website. As defined by PC Magazine, the technical definition of a content management system is “software that is used to manage text, images, audio and video content for a Web site. It provides a mechanism for submission of material, storage and maintenance, as well as the distribution and conversion to HTML pages for viewing.” In simple terms, this is where the pages are built, laid out and linked together. Most CMS’s make it a snap to make these types of changes and can typically be done by anyone who is comfortable using MS Word.
Why is having a content management system useful?
Not only do you need these various forms of content to easily be added to your website, but also modified and removed. Sometimes, on short notice. Say you just ran out of inventory on your most popular item or are running a new special for June but remembered on May 31st. Then consider that the IT guy or gal who writes all of the HTML code is on vacation – now what? With a CMS, you can easily have multiple staff members trained and ready to roll with any needed additions or changes.
What to look for in a good content management system
Not all CMS’s are equal. Many assume that all versions allow for page organizing, for example, but that is not necessarily true so do not take the functionality for granted!
Another item to be thoughtful about is the editor and whether it gives too much free reign. In other words, if you want all of the pages on your website to look the same – same header, footer, layout, etc. – then you will want to choose a CMS that allows for controls over those things. This is what makes it foolproof for us non-techies.
Images and Files
If you do not have a graphic designer handy, then you may require more out of your CMS in terms of image editing and uploading files. What will end users see, will they be searchable, and so on.
Search Engine Optimization
Ask some basic questions here regarding how often your site is indexed, will all content be indexed, what is the scope as far as how results are displayed, etc. As you and I both know, people are looking for you via Google and the other search engines so it is imperative that your site can be found.
Do not let your site be limited by a CMS – it’s just not necessary! Your web design and your web content are separate things and one should not be dictated by the other. The sky (or the cloud) is the limit!
With any of these considerations, do not forget to think ahead. While you may not need certain features today, you may require them down the road. It is also much easier to implement a CMS at the time of site launch or during your redesign.
In the next few blogs, we will cover specific CMS brand comparisons, what we chose and why, and what happens next after choosing your CMS. We really are nice like that!