What's a content management system?

What's a content management system?

Almost all of the e-business web sites we create today are based on the use of a Content Management System (CMS) – mostly Drupal, Joomla or Wordpress.

There are a host of reasons why we do that, and they almost all come down to saving you time and money.

Here are the headlines:

  • The days of ‘fixed’ web sites that don’t change are long gone. Today a good web site constantly evolves and constantly has new content. Web sites should be living things – it encourages visitors to keep coming back to see what’s new and it’s very good for search engine positioning. A CMS makes this easy, both for web sites we maintain and web sites our clients maintain for themselves.
  • A key element of all CMS is that they make the formatting of all the pages and other content in a web site consistent. That makes it easy for visitors to find their way around and encourages them to read more.
  • The formatting of a CMS site is set out in one place that affects all the pages in the web site. So if you want to ring the changes, a few simple edits can give your web site a whole new look and feel. And it’s typically hours of work, not days or weeks. There’s no need to live with stuff you don’t like or isn’t working for your visitors. Making changes to a web site’s look and feel is fast and consistent.
  • The CMS typically includes a host of web site features as standard. Menu structures, on line polls, structuring the pages into logical groups – all this and much more is standard within the CMS. That saves you time and cost when you want to get a new web site online or you want to update an existing web site.
  • Modifying, adding or deleting pages within the web site is easy. If you can use a word processor, you can look after the content within your own web site. That makes it much quicker and less expensive than a traditional hard coded web site.
  • As you add, delete or change pages, other pages are not affected. And at the same time, page navigation menu links are automatically adjusted on all the web pages of your web site. That makes it dramatically simpler to maintain web sites with any degree of complexity.

The CMS we use for our clients – Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress – are Open Source Software (OSS) tools. They’re readily available, and they’re free. Don’t think OSS is some sort of fringe activity. It’s estimated there are tens of millions of web sites based on Wordpress alone.

We use Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress because in our opinion they’re the best supported by thousands of add-ons. Shopping carts, database engines, workflow systems are all readily available to integrate with Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress.

These days it’s rare to have to start with a blank sheet of paper to create a functional web site. In the majority of cases we integrate off the shelf components to get our clients up and productive on the internet quickly. That speed also makes web sites easier to support – leading to lower initial costs and lower ongoing costs.

Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress aren’t limited to small and medium sized businesses. Wordpress is used by Flickr, NASA, the New York Times, Reuters and the Financial Times. Joomla is used by the United Nations, MTV Networks, Harvard University and Citibank.  Drupal is used by MTV United Kingdom, Sony Music and Warner Brothers.

Given all this good news, you’re probably wondering what the downsides are. There are two.

Firstly, some CMS can be difficult (or at least technical) to install and set up.

Secondly, the page contents only exist on your web server making backups slightly more difficult.

The good news? That’s what we’re here for. We do the hard bits so that you can focus on what your web site is doing for your business.

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