Content Management Systems for Your Business Website

Content Management Systems for Your Business Website

Written by: Edward Cupler

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So just what is a Content Management System? In the world of website design and development, there are custom Content Management Systems written for each clients individual needs, and already existing Content Management Systems that can be used for a variety of website needs. In this article I’ll cover the latter, since a custom CMS is usually out of the price range of most small businesses. Existing Content Management Systems are a great way to harness the power of existing technologies and provide your clients with much more function and useability in their website at a reasonable and affordable cost than would be possible if you were to do all the necessary programming from start to finish. For clients, or end users, a  Content Management System will allow them to do daily updates to their website themselves without knowledge of programming or HTML. The only tool required is a browser, and having the ability to update their website without the aid of a professional can be an effective way to reduce expenses while keeping your site up to date.

CMS Features Should Include:

  • Ease of use, functionality and flexibility
  • Editing and creating new content pages
  • WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) editing for page content
  • Uploading and displaying images
  • Creating menu items and control navigation
  • Doing some basic search engine optimization.

Ease of use

Every Content Management Systems has a learning curve. The good news is (for the end user) that most CMS’s aren’t that hard to learn. If you’ve ever filled out some website forms and can follow a few instructions, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting up to speed. Be sure when you’re selecting a website designer, that they will be willing to help you if you run into trouble understanding the CMS they setup for you. Some may charge a fee for this while others may include a predetermined number of hours for support within the initial design cost.. Also, be sure to ask about upgrades for the CMS. Don’t overlook this important step. Just as your personal computer needs to be updated to eliminate vulnerabilities, and since most Content Management Systems are available to the general public, they will occasionally need to be upgraded or patched to eliminate vulnerabilities within the code that could allow hackers a way to compromise your website. Plus, upgrades will also give you access to the latest features.

Search Engine Friendly

A Content Management System should allow for easy search engine optimization.  Aside from controlling the content that visitors will see, you will need control of the title, keywords, and description meta tags, for each page. Using a CMS can give you the control to optimize these tags along with your content, keeping your web pages current and up to date with the latest SEO techniques.

Menus

Along with being able to create, edit and organize menu items, it can be helpful to use your targeted keywords in your links using SEF links. For example, a page with the link “digitalgreys.com/123.php?stuff=docoolstuff” might not look as good to the search engine as “digitalgreys.com/do-cool-stuff.html”. Most CMS’s will have a way of allowing you create these kinds of links. Having the ability to use keywords in the links to your web pages can give you an advantage with the search engines that you otherwise might not have.

Selecting a Content Management System

If you’re working with a freelance web designer or a web design company, they will most likely have a few content management systems that they’re comfortable using. You can discuss your company’s needs and allow them to offer their best solution. Some companies may suggest a custom CMS that they would design and build specially for you. Just be aware, while a custom solution can have it’s benefits, it will most likely be much more expensive than an off the shelf or open source solution and testing may be limited increasing the chance of software bugs. Of course depending on your needs, an off the shelf solution may require some level of customization, but it should be far less costly and you would be building on an already existing and tested technology. Also, most of the off the shelf or open source solutions have quite a few plugins available to further enhance the functionality of your website.

There are too many open source and paid CMS’s available to mention them all here. What I would suggest is that you do a bit of research on your own before deciding what’s right for you. A couple that I like to use are Joomla and WordPress. Both are quite popular open source Content Management Systems and have available to them a vast array of plugins, both free and paid that can quickly enhance the functionality of the basic CMS. Also, you’ll find plenty of information on their websites and both are free.

 

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