Why Businesses Should Use Content Management Systems

To answer this question and find out why a business would even want a CMS (content management system). First, we must answer the question, what is a content management system?

Content Management Systems

What is a CMS? In a nutshell, it is website management software with optional flexible modules such as web pages, forums, calendars, and newsletters that can be easily added, subtracted, moved around within the site, or held for later publishing. A single administrative interface is used to manage all components and to assign “permissions” to various individuals and groups to include editing rights, administering other users, accessing only certain parts of the website, and more.

Why Should Your Business Use A Content Management System?

Your typical business website is a static online brochure with text and images to describe your business. It may be lovely to look at but lacking in depth. A CMS-based website provides an interactive experience that invites people to add comments about what they read, hear and experience (all within your control). This stimulates thought and helps the business and its pastors feel the pulse of the business and its website visitors.

There Are Nine Reasons Your Business Website Should Be A CMS

  1. A CMS provides an interactive experience.
  2. Every part can have the same look and feel to tie everything together. All parts of the site, even message boards and guest books, have the same look and feel.
  3. The Webmaster doesn’t have to be a web design professional. A CMS includes a user-friendly web-based text editor that works like a word processor and is built right into the website.
  4. The website can be maintained by multiple staff rather than a single Webmaster. One administrator who has the ability to grant permission to individual staff and volunteers to update specific parts of the site oversees a CMS.
  5. The website is updated regularly and remains current. If all responsibility for updating a website falls on a single “gatekeeper,” the site often languishes with outdated information when the webmaster is busy, on vacation, or leaves the business. On the other hand, since various staff and volunteers can update a CMS-based site it’s usually updated several times a week or even daily
  6. Site design can be easily updated. With a CMS-based site, content is housed in a flexible structure that grows and changes, with user-friendly web-based editing tools.
  7. New functionality can be easily added in the future. With a CMS, new modules can be added with just a few clicks giving your website the ability to grow and change along with your business.
  8. Affordability: until recently, only mega-businesses could spend the thousands of dollars in programming and development required for a CMS. Plus, they would often spend hefty monthly fees for licensing and hosting. Today there are CMS programs available to the community at large. Mambo, Drupal and Xoops are just some of the free possibilities
  9. CMS can be Installed and Customized for You. Businesses that lack staff or volunteers with the expertise to configure a CMS, can consider hiring a web developer to install and configure the software, design the template to their specifications, and provide training – often for less time and less money than a traditional, static website.

These are nine reasons your business website should be a CMS according to Bryan Thompson at Knol beta

This image came from choosing the right cms

Key Features Of CMS’s

Features You Need

Choosing a content management system can be tricky. Without a clearly define set of requirements, you will be seduced by fancy functionality that you will never use. What then should you look for in a CMS? According to an article in Smashing Magazine by Paul Boag here are a few things to consider when choosing the perfect CMS.

  • Core functionality When most people think of content management, they think of creating, deleting, editing and organizing pages. They assume all content management systems do this and take that functionality for granted. However, that is not necessarily the case. Not all blogging platforms, for example, allow the owner to manage and organize pages in a tree hierarchy. Consider carefully the basic functionality you need. Even if you do not require the ability to structure and organize pages now, you may in the future. There are literally thousands of content management systems on the market, the majority of which offer this core functionality. However, they vary hugely in usability. Always test the system for usability before making a purchase.
  • The editor The editor is one core feature worth particular attention. The editor is the interface through which content is added and amended. Traditionally, it has also allowed the content provider to apply basic formatting, such as font and color. However, developers have recently moved away from this type of editor to something that reflects best practice.The danger of traditional WYSIWYG editors is two-fold. First, content providers are given too much control over the design. They are able to customize the appearance of a page so much that they undermine the consistency of the design and branding. Secondly, in order to achieve this level of design control, the CMS mixes design and content.The new generation of editors takes a different approach. Content providers use the editor to mark up headings, lists, links and other elements, without specifying how they should appear. Ensure your list of requirements includes an editor designed on this principle and that does not give content providers control over the appearance. At the very least, look for content management systems that allow the editor to be replaced with a more appropriate solution.The editor should also be able to handle external assets, including images and downloadable files. That brings us to our next point: management of these assets.
  • Managing assets Management of images and files is badly handled in some CMS’. Badly designed systems can frustrate users with poor accessibility and usability. Images in particular can cause problems. Ensure that the content management system you select forces content providers to add <alt> attributes to images. You may also want a CMS that provides basic image editing tools, such as cropping, resizing and rotating.
  • Search is an important aspect of any website. Approximately half of all users start with search when looking for content. However, the search functionality in content management systems is often inadequate.Here are a few things to look for when assessing search functionality:
    • Freshness: How often does the search engine index your website? This is especially important if your website changes regularly.• Thoroughness: does it index the entire content of each page? What about attached files, such as PDFs and Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents?
    • Speed: Some search engines can take ages to return results. This is especially common on large websites.
    • Scope: Can you limit the scope of the search function to a particular section of the website or refine search results once returned?
    • Ranking: How does the search engine determine the ranking of results? Can this be customized by either the website owner or user?
    • Customization: Can you control how results are displayed and customize the design?
  • Multiple website support: With the growth of the mobile web, you may want to create a separate website especially for mobile devices. Whatever the reason, having the flexibility to run multiple websites is important.

Features That Would Be Nice To Have

  • Versioning: Being able to revert to a previous version of a page allows you to quickly recover if something is posted by accident.
  • Multilingual support: It is easy to dismiss support for multiple languages. Your website may specifically target the domestic market, or you may sell a language-specific product. But think twice before dismissing this functionality.Even if your product is language-specific, that could change. It is important that your CMS be able to grow with your business and evolving requirements.

Evaluating Content Management Systems

Evaluating content management systems can be an overwhelming task, not because it’s rocket science, but simply because there are tons of them to choose from. However, with a structured approach to your evaluation, things can be much easier and less intimidating. Here are some things to look for in a content management system according to Six Revisions

  • Intuitiveness: Is it easy to understand and use? You should also look at it from an end user’s perspective: if you’re building a content management system for a client who’s not “technology-savvy” and you choose a solution that requires a Ph. D. in computer science, it’s less likely that they’ll be able to use the system (thus, defeating the whole purpose of a CMS, which is to empower its users).
  • Is it flexible and can you customize it easily? CMS’s that offer customizations on templates are Expression Engine, WordPress, and Joomla just to name a few; these content management systems boast and promote their ability to be easily modified.
  • Extensibility via Plug-ins and Modules: Look for a CMS with a powerful Application Programming Interface (API) in case you need to write your own extensions. Make sure that the CMS you’re considering already has a huge list of plug-ins. Though you might not need plug-ins right away, it’s important that this is available to you later down the road.
  • Security: Adequate security for your site is very important and must be in place in order to protect your content. There are CMS’s that allow you to install specific plug-in and edit files/permissions in order to increase security levels.
  • Documentation and Community Support: Nothing’s more frustrating than trying to figure out how to do something, and not have references online that you can take advantage of.

Search Engine Optimization

One of the most important things that people consider when looking at content management systems (CMS) is their viability in the SEO market. In fact, it’s becoming so important that people are sometimes afraid to choose a CMS on the basis that it may not be optimized enough for their needs, according to Mike Johnston at CMS Critic.  Here are some of the top SEO friendly CMS’s on the market. As CMS evolve this list will change.
Elxis Some CMS’s have a powerful mechanism that produces search-engine and human friendly URLs like Elxis With clean urls enabled and its choice of  SEO friendly plug-in..

Drupal A very easy content management system to make search engine friendly. There is a fabulous module called SEO Checklist for Drupal that walks you through what to do to further improve your SEO.

Typo AVery search engine friendly with tons of options for metadata and search engine friendly urls.As Content Management Systems evolve and gets more popular look for even more improvement in Search Engine Optimization.

Conclusion

As businesses and individuals become even more insistent on interactive site vs. static site the popularity of CMS will grow. This could be the future of websites. As a designer it is important not be static and to evolve as the field evolves. Whether you choose to go to school and take courses or just Google and learn on your own it is important to keep up with this ever-changing field. If you plan to stay in the field, you must change as it  changes.
How do you view content management systems and is this something your future clients will insist on?

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This entry was posted in Content Management Systems, CSS, Digital Media, Technologies. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why Businesses Should Use Content Management Systems

  1. Wow!! This is very thorough, I like that. What is your favorite CMS though? By now, I think you should have an idea.

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