Understanding the Content Management System

Web developers are just like everybody else. They believe there is the right way to do things -- their way. I'm not so different. I have preferences myself when it comes to building a rock solid web presence. Managing content is something that all developers have different opinions on and take different approaches. When clients walk in the door and start asking questions, I tend to play the CMS card. Not because I like to intimidate or confuse people, but because it is an important factor in how a website is set up. As a school teacher, one of the questions I tend to ask my students is "What do you think a content management system is?" At this, everyone is typically uncomfortable giving the obvious and correct answer -- a system to manage content. It sounds complicated, but it is actually a pretty simple concept. Plain and simple if you are a small business looking at having a website developed you are going to get one of the following: Open Source CMS Proprietary CMS No CMS All CMS options are going to tend to offer you ways to manage what is on your pages, menus, blog posting, and user management features. The CMS is great for giving users with little or no web development expertise the ability to publish online. Typically a user logs in from an admin page and makes changes. The Open Source CMS is what is dominating the web development market currently. They are free for developers to build on and they are driven by extremely strong communities that continue to progress the software. They are also customizable to meet specific needs. Those are pretty great features. Dominant open CMSs in the arena are Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, and many others. They all have pros and cons for end users and developers alike. They can be themed to accommodate any design imaginable, and typically can be built to serve specific industries very well. While these CMS options may be free, depending on the amount of development needed to produce the best end result, development fees will of course be necessary. They will still have to have a home on the internet, so expect hosting fees to keep your website alive. Proprietary CMS options exist in most any field. These tend to be pre-tailored to a specific industry. As an educator, there are several CMS options for schools available that are designed to meet the specific needs of schools. They tend to cost more money, but hopefully compensate with more robust features specific to the industry you are in. Usually the purchase price will entail a one-time design fee to get you up and running along with an annual cost. Because they are a paid platform, you are investing in further development of the product, which hopefully means you get continual updates as well as a support agreement. Sometimes, a business needs a basic business card site. The CMS is not mandatory when building a web presence. Circumstances when one is not necessary would include not having changing content or information and very few pages of content. Often businesses prefer to just hire out all maintenance of the website including page updates. A few page site that looks nice is much simpler to build without the complications of the CMS. The downs of not having a CMS if you are in that circumstance is that there is little room for growth without redevelopment. It can get you a website on the net and provide your business some legitimacy on a low budget. What does OE say? We only build on a CMS. We do projects on all the open CMS options without hesitation. I'm not a believer that there is one platform that delivers the best results 100% of the time. When a client comes to us, we'll assess the needs and make our best recommendation from a one-on-one discussion. I prefer Drupal due to it's high level of customizability, and philosophy it was built on for managing content. We don't every recommend not using a CMS. We want to see your business grow, and as you start needing regularly added content to your site, there won't be any of us who know your business as well as you. We give you all the tools to make the end product look top notch no matter who submits the updates.