Content Management Systems

Let’s have a look now at Content Management Systems (CMS). First of all, why CMS? Well, what a CMS does is allow you to edit your website content. There’s a lot of talk around CMS, so it’s likely that you’ve already come across the term. Most people assume that they definitely need to have the ability to edit their own site. What I want to do in this section is actually question that. If you do need CMS, then you need to know exactly why you’re going to use CMS.

So, it gives you the ability to edit your own site, but who is going to actually edit your site? That’s always the first question for me. We assume we all need the ability to do it, but have you really thought that through? Have you got the manpower? Have you got the time to actually make those edits yourself? Remember, however good a CMS is, you’re going to need a certain amount of knowledge to use them. Therefore, have you got the time, not just to go and edit the pages, but to learn how to use the Content Management System? You’ve got to way that up.

Don’t assume that somebody’s going to build something, give you a CMS and you can immediately dive in there and just start editing pages. In fact if you do try to do that, the chances are you’re going to mess up the site you’ve just paid a Web Developer to create.

If you’ve got a Content Management System and you have the knowledge to can make edits, you should also have a backup plan just in case you make a wrong move. You may still need a Web Developer if your Web Development skills aren’t up to the standard required.

So, there are two types of CMS; Bespoke or platform based. A bespoke CMS is where your Web Developer builds your very own Content Management System, which would be very easy to update content with, however it is purposely built to restrict you. It does all the formatting and all of the clever stuff for you, so that you just go in and change words, or maybe add pictures and you may not even have access to some pages. There is a good reason for doing it being a restrictive system, so don’t think it as a negative. If you have a system that is highly restricted, the chances are you’re not going to knock out all of the formatting. This means that your website is going to remain looking as good as it did on the day it went live, which is most often a good thing, especially on larger and more complex sites.

Now, let’s say that you’ve got a news section, and you decide on day one that you’re going to have one picture per news item. Well, if that’s what your Developer builds you, a system that allows you to add a picture to a news item, then that’s what you’ve got. The day that you decide you want to add two pictures to a news item; suddenly you fall outside the parameters of the Bespoke CMS system.

If you want more freedom and flexibility then you are then looking at a Platform based Content Management System. A Platform base CMS includes systems such as, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal amongst many others. These systems will give you a greater degree of flexibility. In fact you can even use them to add in your own HTML code.

However, ask yourself again, have you got the time to learn all of that code? Should you have the time to learn all of that code? What is it that you’re good at that you would be doing instead of learning all about HTML?

So, you need to decide if you are going to have a Bespoke or Platform based CMS. If you do a Google search for Content Management Systems, platform CMS’ are the ones that are going to come up. If you’re keen to get editing, you’ll be able to read about them; they’ve got forums and other sources of help along with many other features to provide support.

Now that we’ve looked at Platform and Bespoke Systems, we also need to look at HTML Editing or Database Driven Systems. Let me explain those two terms. HTML is the code that creates Webpages; all the best websites produced HTML code. However, to add functionality, quite often we use Database Driven Applications. Databases hold all of the information on your website. The database and the program put all of their information together and deliver you a page.

The benefit of having a Database Driven Content Management System is that they’re very easy to update. Let’s say you want to change the theme of the website; well that’s easy because the theme and the data (the content on the page) are stored separately. They are then merged at the time when a visitor comes to your website. That is also what systems such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal do. Using good HTML code is also another plus point for search engine optimisation.

Another option that you might want to consider is an HTML Editor Content Management System. A great example is Cushy CMS but there are plenty of others. What they do is they put a really friendly interface over the top of your HTML pages. This allows you to edit those pages without you having to learn the raw HTML programming that somebody has used to build your pages. They’re probably not as flexible and as involved as the Platform based Editors, but they provide you with more control over what remains static and what you can edit.

They’re almost like a step in between building the HTML yourself and having a full on Content Management System that runs on a Database. The point is that they provide really good, clean HTML code. So, you need to think about HTML Content Management Systems if you need good, quality, clean code.

Let me recap for you. First of all, time. Have you got the time to get really involved with Content Management? You’re going to need the time if you’re going to manage the pages yourself. So you need to consider that one. What about the System itself? Do you need Platform based or should it be Bespoke? Bespoke keeps it a lot cleaner, helps you with the formatting and makes it simpler and quicker for you. However, it doesn’t always give you as much flexibility. Alternatively, do you need a system that gives you that added flexibility? The downside is that you need some knowledge of HTML and risk ruining the design and formatting of your website.

I know that when most people start building a website they’re thinking “I really need control of this”, but it isn’t always the best option to go down that line. Finally, Database Driven and HTML Editing Systems; HTML Editing gives you cleaner code. Database Driven are much more powerful systems and they allow you to add a lot more features and functions.

So, I hope that was a good introduction to Content Management and the Content Management Systems that are out there. Go away now and work out if you’ve definitely got the time to spend on these systems and what type of system you should use. To help you gain further understanding, have a look online at these Platform based, Database Driven and HTML Editing Content Management Systems.