I am often surprised when I meet with a new web design client and they describe the kind of site they want and they make no mention of a content management system (CMS.) Now to be fair, I understand that there are still a lot of people out there who are unfamiliar with what exactly a CMS is, and how it can positively impact their business.
A CMS is a computer system that allows for publishing, editing and modifying content all without having to touch the website’s code. This is great news for business owners who aren’t particularly tech savvy. Typically, the process you would go through to have a site designed for you is the same as it has always been. You meet with your web designer and communicate your needs with them. They then design and build the site, but they do it within the framework of a specified CMS. Then you can take control of the site by adding content and expanding the site as needed.
There are many CMS’ out there, but the most popular today are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Many of my clients think of WordPress as purely a blogging platform, but that really isn’t true anymore. It can be used accomplish any number of tasks, and I have done and seen some pretty cool things done with WordPress.
Many design firms can also provide you with a custom CMS built to your exact specifications if what you want cannot be built within any of the existing systems. In my experience however, any of the Big 3 will work just fine.
I always recommend a CMS to my clients, even if they don’t think they need one. Once I explain the benefits, they almost always agree, and are actually really excited about the possibilities that a CMS can open up for their business.
Here are the five big reasons why you need a CMS:
You Can Control Your Content
In the days of static websites, you would not only pay a web design firm or freelancer to design and build your site, but to update it as well. After all, you probably don’t know how to write code, so it would only make sense to let the experts handle that. Because of this, most websites would remain unchanged for years. Well times have changed. It is no longer acceptable to run a “set it and forget it” website. We are living in a social media driven world now and people expect new, fresh content on a regular basis.
With the CMS platforms available today, it is extremely easy to maintain a website. Even with absolutely no coding knowledge, anybody can add articles, news, photos and videos through a user-friendly back-end interface. You no longer have to wait for your web designer/developer to get to your updates. You can add your new content and upload it either instantaneously or schedule it for later.
Let’s say you are a start-up company. Not big yet, but plenty of room to grow. Wouldn’t it be great to have a custom website that can grow as your business does? With a CMS, your designer can build you a site to grow on. If you have an e-commerce store, all that needs to be designed is a set of templatized product pages that you can use to add more products as you acquire them.
Similarly, lets say you need to add a whole new section to your site a year down the road. Maybe you own a restaurant and you expand to a second location. It would make sense to add another page for the new restaurant. All you would need to do is log in to the CMS, choose a page template, give it a title and add the content. You can then choose for that page to show up on the website’s main menu if you wish.
You Will Save Money
Apart from the hassle of having to go to your web designer every time you need to make an update, there is also the issue of the extra expense involved. Web design doesn’t come cheap, (assuming you go with a skilled designer,) and constant updates can really eat up your bottom line.
With a CMS, you can either take on the duties of updating the site yourself, or task somebody within your company to do it. Either way, bringing site updates in-house is a huge money saving move. On top of that, the start-up cost of having a website built within a CMS is usually not much more than that of a static site.
You Can Add functionality
One of my favorite benefits of using a CMS is the seemingly endless supply of extensions and plugins that can add to your site’s functionality. Did you forget to have your designer add an automated reservation booking system? There’s a plugin for that. Simply do a search, click an button and its installed. There are extensions for everything from search engine optimization to capturing leads.
CMS plugins are amazing for adding new functionality to your site with minimal effort. However, I caution you to not go overboard with them, because if you use too many, they can really slow your site down. But then again, there’s also a plugin to help with that.
It’s Considered “Best Practice”
It is for all these reasons perhaps, that building a site using a CMS is considered to be today’s best practice. It is now the industry standard because, simply put, building a site the old way just doesn’t make much sense anymore. Mostly this has to do with the fact that web standards, in general, have shifted away from static, unchanging sites over to more dynamic sites with frequent updates. Search engines want to see that you are adding to the online community on a consistent basis, and they will reward you with higher search engine rankings if you do.
Going beyond search engine results, your visitors are much more likely to come back if you have something new to show them on a regular basis. Ultimately, this is what’s most important, as the more times a customer or potential customer visits your site, the more likely they are to make a purchase. This goes for businesses that sell products on their sites, as well as more service-based businesses.
With all of these benefits, can you think of any reason to stick with a static website? Even if you don’t plan on updating your content frequently, you are much better off having the option to do so. Chances are, you will learn to see the value in updatable content, as the internet is moving in a more and more social direction every day. When you are ready to start taking control of your own content, you will be glad to have an easy way to do it.
CMS Photo via Shutterstock
Using wp to manage a content site purely is fine, but I want to create a more dynamic site which will include a business directory, social network, etc. I do get puzzled by devs who say wp can be used to dev a yelp like site (easy, not dynamic enough), and joomla devs who say more dynamic, but not so easy to use. Will wp suffice, or will joomla be only able to take my site when it needs to do real heavy duty work?
I have not had any experience with Joomla, so I can’t really speak about it. I have designed many different types of sites with varying degrees of complexity using WordPress, and in the circumstances when my developer tells me its not feasible to build using WP, we just go custom.
Couldn’t agree with you more. The control is easily enough of a reason to pull the trigger.
Have been building websites for over a decade. Wouldn’t even think of doing one without a CMS.
I have been using WordPress and it really is easy. Any business today, even the not-tech savvy guys can add content pretty easily. It’s one of the best ways to go these days.
Every business should have a CMS website these days. Even if a business doesn’t think they need one, they will eventually change their mind when they realise they can easily update pages, for example weekly or monthly specials. I use WordPress and highly recommend it, there’s thousands of themes out there are even more plugins which make site development quick and easy.
I recently have had a web site created. They used joomla. I can not figure how to add/deleat anything from my site. I have gone over this step by step 3 times with the representative but still I am unable to use my website. What exactly is a CMS website and can I incorporate it into my site? What is the cost of a CMS website?
Well written explanation for CMS. Thank you. I don’t care for WordPress for full sites, although I do incorporate as a blog into sites. I think Joomla and Drupal are too hard for clients to figure out.
For the past 5 years or so, I’ve been doing custom CMS that is drop dead simple. Easy for customers, fast to develop. Each area on a page that is to be edited, is tied to a database table, just like WordPress, etc. A form in the admin area allows my customers to type in new copy, SEO metas, titles, etc. If they can type, they can change their site content without breaking the design.
Thanks for the post.
I just had my website quickly transferred over to Word Press. I love being able to make changes and additions without the high cost. Thank you for encouraging others to do the same.
WordPress all the way. CMS is also incredibly important for rankings. Google wants to see a constantly updated website to make sure they are providing the best content to their searchers. Without a good way to get content on the website a client is doomed to fail miserably in my opinion. Well written article though.
It has become like a fashion to use CMS. It’s just so easy to use that even non-geeks can manage their website without actually relying upon designers and developers all the time. This has come as great comfort to all people who want the online presence of business and also wan to have control over the website issues without actually knowing the technicalities of HTML coding. Using any of the above open source CMS would be great as all of them share some common but also have unique features. Selection would be based on business requirements.
A Content Management System is empowerment for the business owner, straight up. For many folks that have had websites for years, they were used to having a webmaster or similar person that would publish pages for them. Many CMS are still intimidating to business owners, and having sites built in say, Joomla, had the same results as a static site for many SMB owners.
A dozen years after WordPress launched, many businesses have realized that the ability to edit, create, and publish content on their own is of great benefit to them.
thanks for sharing
ease of maintenance, including updates. cost-efficiency, especially with out-the-box solutions, open source or freeware. extendable functionality, through a large number of plugins and extensions. SEO-friendly features.
The article you have shared here very good. This is really interesting information for me. Thanks for sharing!