Promise Media

Content Management Systems: An Introduction

Stored in: Website Development and tagged:
Content management systems

Publishers who have launched multiple sites on different Web content management systems end up with valuable lessons about picking the right CMS.

Robust content sites need a CMS for several important reasons. A CMS will save staff time from coding pages, have rich functionality such as search and display consistent templates that don’t confuse site visitors.

It also makes it much easier for publishers to implement changes that affect many pages.

Three types of CMS platforms are available: commercial, open source and customized. Commercial systems have fees ranging greatly depending on the size of the site, functional requirements, amount of technical support and other factors.

Free, open-source CMS platforms including Drupal, Joomla and WordPress come with no support other than community message boards.

A custom system usually combines parts of other platforms, most often open source.

5 Important CMS Factors to Consider

Here are some primary considerations in making a choice among the three options:

1. Price: balancing limited budgets with capabilities that grow audience and revenue

2. Technical support: staff versus outsourced

3. Training and documentation: strongest with commercial, weakest with open source

4. Usability: Is it intuitive or easy to use for staff with limited technical skills?

5. Productivity: Make sure the time savings in the long run exceed the effort needed to launch.

Commercial CMS Positives and Negatives

It is important to keep in mind that different content systems have different strengths and weaknesses.

On the positive side, a CMS such as ExpressionEngine is inexpensive and has some obligatory technical support through message boards.

It also has a rich set of site features that are especially good for content sites, including flexible templates, easy publishing, email newsletters and robust search. It requires little maintenance effort once the site is built.

On the negative side, a system such as EE takes a great deal of upfront labor. Sites that need flexibility in design will require many labor-intensive templates. This CMS has a unique tagging system on top of the standard HTML that is not intuitive.

Publishers with larger budgets can obviously buy more expensive systems and get much more capability and support. But I have known $1 million systems to fail as well. Each option has different rewards and risks.

Open Source CMS Positives and Negatives

In contrast, an open-source content management system such as Joomla, WordPress or Drupal is free and usually easy to set up and launch. They also have many add-ons created by other developers.

A publisher with strong technical people can customize an open-source system and develop their own modules and plugins. Many of these systems use MySQL and PHP scripting, both of which are heavily documented online.

But the negatives include possible security issues and no support other than community message boards. If something goes wrong, a publisher is painfully on his or her own. Some members of the community will offer help in some situations and little to no help in others.

Customized CMS Positives and Negatives

Finally, a customized Web content management system has the greatest potential for giving publishers what they want exactly the way they want it. This option is good only for publishers with a strong technical staff, plenty of time and plenty of patience while waiting for the new system to roll out.

But it has great upfront labor costs, and if the prime architect of the system leaves, the publisher is left with the difficult task of finding and training the replacement.

Even riskier, if the prime architecture makes some critical errors in the development stage, corrections may take even more time and labor.

Whatever the choice, a publisher must act carefully and thoughtfully in building or buying a content management system. Thorough testing is essential. So is plenty of patience and determination.

Leave a Reply

Ā© 2007-2017 Promise Media LLC • Contact