Content Management Systems – the “future proof” website

By December 8, 2014Blog, Brand, Online Tips
Content Management Systems (CMS)

If you’re serious about your company’s online presence, and you want to really create a good user experience, you don’t just need a website. You need something future-proof, that will grow and evolve with your business. If you and your team haven’t yet familiarized yourselves with Content Management System (CMS) platforms like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, now is the perfect time to do so.

By definition, a Content Management System (CMS) is “a software system designed to allow users with little knowledge of web programming to create and manage website content with relative ease.”(1) Unlike a blog, which is fine if you’re just starting out or posting as a hobby, CMS sites enable businesses to own and host their own data – it’s not owned by the blog. This gives your team more control and more options for your online content – and the possibilities are endless.

Our experience and research has shown us that are far more pros than cons when it comes to using a CMS platform. We’ve highlighted some of our key findings below.

Top 10 Pros of using a CMS:

You don’t have to know how to write HTML.

If your team can work in Microsoft Word or Pages, you can all write posts and “drag and drop” to add images in a CMS site.(2)

Dynamic content makes site updates easy.

Since all of your company’s online content is stored in a database, making a change on one page can easily be applied to all pages.(3)

“PlugIns” give your site more functionality.

A lot of features are already “built in” to your company’s CMS site (such as the “search bar”), but it’s also easy to customize the site’s functionality with PlugIns (also called “Extensions” or “Modules”). There are hundreds of different ones out there, such as Ecommerce, Forums, Galleries, Classified Advertisements, Events Calendars and so much more.(4)

It can help search engines find your company.

CMSs are built to maximize SEO (Search Engine Optimization). They have numerous tools to help your business get real search engine results – such as monitoring keyword usage, creating dynamic sitemaps(5) and URLs containing specific keywords for the page’s content.(6)

It’s a cost-effective way to look good.

Most CMSs are open source software, which means that they can be downloaded for FREE. There are also thousands of free (design) themes available. The only thing you absolutely have to pay for is the web hosting service.

CMS sites are within the standards of the Website Standards Association.

The Website Standards Association is known to shut down sites that are not built properly. Rest assured that CMS sites are within the “best practices” standards. Some key examples are that CMSs use HTML, which is the “safest” way to build a site (vs. flash) and the fact that they are “retina ready,” meaning that the site will work with all monitors in high-resolution. And if you have an email account associated with your company’s CMS site, CMSs also work with the current Canadian email laws.

You can have multiple users with different accessibility levels.

A CMS enables you to give everyone in your organization an account, so they can approve content before it’s published.(7) You can also set “subscriber levels” meaning you can give certain people certain levels of access. For example, if you only want to be able to update the site, but not be able to touch anything on the back end (such as data), you can give yourself “author” permission.

It can help your business get seen in Social Media.

Most CMS sites will work with Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter integration is usually built right into your chosen (design) theme, or can be easily added via a PlugIn or extension. So when you post your company’s latest updates on a CMS site, they immediately get shared via social media as well, and allows your online followers to share your posts easily as well.

Security & Spam protection.

With a popular open source CMS (such as WordPress), your business has the support of thousands of developers who are continuously working on keeping unwanted users out. The core of your website has also been tested to be secure on millions of other websites.(8) A good CMS will help you stay protected, with security measures built in and available as updates.

It’s Future Proof.

All of your company’s site’s content is stored in a database. That means that even if you choose to change the theme/design of your site, all of your pages, posts, and comments remain safe.(9)

Top 5 Cons of using a CMS:

It requires frequent updates.

Whenever updates are available, updating CMS PlugIns and applications definitely helps with security & functionality. If you don’t do the recommended updates, it could affect your company’s site. Using an agency (such as Kreativ Rehab) to manage your CMS site can prevent you from having to worry about it, though.

Spam maintenance can be time consuming.

If there’s a contact form and/or comments section on your company’s CMS site, “spam bots” can leave comments. That means that someone needs to go through all posted comments in the back end of your site – either approving them or marking them as spam – on a regular basis. Again, this is something that Kreativ Rehab can take care of for you.

Not all CMS themes are created equal.

It might look pretty, but you need to choose your CMS theme (design template) wisely. Some themes can have bugs, and some are just easier to manage than others. Technology also changes so quickly that theme developers can sometimes take a while updating their designs accordingly – which can affect your site. Themes are sometimes removed without explanation too, and if the theme your company is using is removed, then portions of your site won’t show up. At Kreativ Rehab, we always do background research on your site’s theme to ensure it’s from a reputable source.

You still have to pay for and handle hosting.

While the software for most CMS platforms is free, you still need to pay a provider for web hosting service. And if you’re switching hosting services, transferring your site’s database can be difficult, and doing it seamlessly requires extra help. Luckily, Kreativ Rehab offers great rates on web hosting and we have experience transferring data, too.

CMS software uses more resources on your company’s web server.

The more complex your CMS site is (for example, if you have a lot of PlugIns), the more hosting bandwidth it uses. So the bigger the file, the slower a computer can get. This is another good reason to use an agency such as Kreativ Rehab to help manage and streamline your CMS site.

Our rundown on the Top 3 CMS platforms:

Wordpress

WordPress

About one in every 6 websites runs on WordPress(10) – including Time Inc., Sony Music, TechCrunch and The New Yorker.(11) This site runs on WordPress as well. Known to be one of the most user friendly CMSs, experts recommend WordPress for beginners.(12) Wordpress started as a blogging platform in 2003 and has since evolved to the most popular CMS in the world.(13) With millions of people using WordPress, and thousands of developers constantly working to improve it, WordPress has an excellent supportive community. But it’s not perfect: the most common complaint about WordPress is that a larger site requires significant server resources and making back-end changes can be difficult.(12) (That’s why using an agency like us can help.)

Drupal

Drupal

Currently estimated to be 3rd most popular CMS after WordPress(13), Drupal has been available as open source software since 2001(14) – longer than both WordPress and Joomla. Oxford University and The Beatles Official Website run on Drupal.(15) It’s known for being the most powerful and technically advanced CMS, allowing for a high level of customization, and it’s recommended for people who have at least some programming knowledge.(16)

Joomla

Joomla

Founded in 2005, Joomla is estimated to be 2nd most popular CMS after WordPress, holding about 9% of the market share (WordPress has 60%).(17) It’s the only non-corporate backed community-based CMS platform in the world.(18) GE Transportation(19) and the Women’s Refugee Commission(20) run on Joomla.It’s often considered a compromise between WordPress and Drupal, as it’s a powerful system, but doesn’t require as much technical knowledge as Drupal. However, Joomla is not as easy to customize, has less SEO options and doesn’t have the same large community of support as WordPress.(21)

Is your company ready to create a CMS website? Let us help make it easier.

If you want your CMS site done well and worry-free, we recommend hiring an agency with CMS experience. It’s the best of both worlds: you and your team will have hands-on access to the site, and without having to deal with the technical aspects, you’ll have the time to focus on your business. Here at Kreativ Rehab, we can:

  • Design and host your CMS site and your site’s emails. We can either build you a CMS site from the ground up, or work with your selected template or current CMS site.
  • Assess your company’s needs and budget, and offer you a pre-paid package for the year or work with you on an “as needed” basis.
  • Help you select the best design theme for your CMS site – we always research the integrity of the theme’s programming, and we have contacts that can “clean up” a theme if it needs it.
  • Make sure your brand is properly represented on the site.
  • Do content development and editing.
  • Do regular backups/updates for your CMS site, and manage any spam comments.
  • Look after registering your domain name.
  • Provide you with worry-free CMS site maintenance and hosting overall. (Our hosting is also “Heartbleed proof”).

Get the online presence your business deserves. Contact us today to get started.

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