3 Things to Know about Website Content Management Systems

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3 things to know about website content management

3 Things to Know about Website Content Management Systems

Harry Bartlett

In the beginning most websites were built with Dreamweaver, FrontPage or just a text editor like Notepad. These editors allowed for easy construction of 'brochure' websites. As sites became more dynamic the need for a content management system (CMS) increased.CMS

Here are 3 things to know before committing to a CMS.

1. What a CMS Does
The web continues to re-invent marketing, sales and communications but there is a knowledge gap between the tools available and the ability to use them. Understanding what a CMS does and how to integrate it with your company’s online objectives is a critical part of realizing the web’s potential to grow your company.

The principal behind a CMS is quite simple. It’s a database with core functionality e.g. website editing, and add on modules. It can manage content as well as e-commerce in a search friendly way. It also can easily feed content into other sites e.g. social media communities.

After  the objectives are defined for a site, the best way to understand what a CMS does is to use one. Aligning the objectives with the features the CMS provides and working with real content is the best way to fully understand what is realistic and possible.

2. Which Open Source CMS is Best
Opinion here will vary, but at the moment we believe Drupal and WordPress are clearly the best - Drupal for larger, more complex sites and WordPress for simpler sites and blogs.

The reasons for this are: Drupal and WordPress are open source (free), have a large installed base (hundreds of thousands of websites), a web development community in the thousands and standard, non-proprietary technologies (PHP, MySQL, Linux and Apache). These qualifications mean that the functionality is well tested, has less chance of becoming obsolete and is less expensive.

It also doesn't hurt to know that the White House, BBC, Sony and others use Drupal.

3. Total Cost of Ownership
There are 3 parts to the cost of a CMS. First the upfront software licensing fees (if there are any), maintenance costs and hosting fees. The reality is that unless you are looking for an enterprise level CMS, open source (i.e. free) is the way to go.

Maintenance costs depend on who is working on the site. The most cost effective strategy is to have someone within your company maintain the site leaving more heavy-duty work to outside contractors. The more people within your organization that can use a CMS the better. This will increase the amount you publish and make your brand more visible online as well as make for a more accurate, up to date and compelling site.

CMSs are resource intensive and require at least a virtual dedicated server hosting plan. These start at $30 per month. If your site is on a shared plan (under $20 a month) it will be slow.

As the web evolves choosing the right CMS can have a significant impact on how well your organization is able to utilize the web’s potential. When determining the requirements for a site re-design or a new site, make sure selecting the right CMS is a priority. Check out our Drupal vs. Sharepoint blog post if you are interested in an open source cms comparison. You can also fill out this form to contact a Drupal or Wordpress expert.

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About the author

Harry started BI in 1998 and focuses on integrating best practices in branding, user experience design, Internet marketing, and technology to increase the value of an online presence.
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