What is a CMS website?

Wikipedia defines a content management system (CMS) as follows: “A content management system (CMS) is a computer application that allows publishing, editing and modifying content, organizing, deleting as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment.”

In more understandable terms it simply means a platform that allows you to create a website which put you as the website owner and your employees in the position to add content to the website and do maintenance on the site yourself. Although you may need some assistance from time to time you will have absolute control over the actual content of your website and will be in a position to update the content yourself from time to time.

Though there are many CMS platforms available, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are the best known and is used by well-known large companies.

But do my company need a CMS website?

Not all websites need to be built on a CMS platform. With that statement out of the way it will be safe to say that your specific needs will provide the answer. If your website will be data driven such as an online store, membership details or other data being central to your website it may be prudent to consider a CMS website. Although you can use a CMS website for any type of website such as a personal portfolio it may be an overkill. If you think your company’s website will be data driven it does not necessarily means that you have to have a CMS website. A data driven website can still be designed and developed from scratch by a designer/developer. The developer will simply have to develop all the php files that will communicate with a mySql database on a server.

Let us consider the benefits for a CMS website for a moment.

All about control:

Let’s be honest; which company does not want to be in control of all aspects of its business? Any company will surely also want to be in control of the content displayed on its website or be in a position to add new items on its ecommerce website at the drop of a hat. What about posting an article on your website? Would it be great to do it yourself?
Control not only means what is displayed on your website, but also when it will be displayed. With a CMS platform new information is displayed on your website immediately.

Costs implication:

The cost effectiveness of a website can basically be calculated on the basis of a comparison between its price tag and the value it adds to your company. It is a fact that using a CMS platform will cut a lot of development costs. As mentioned above, when using WordPress for example, the databases are created automatically without the need for hours of development coding. This equates to lower development costs. When setting up a website to serve as an online store CMS platforms have plugins available that contain all the functionality needed. Again, no need for a developer to tap away at code for weeks on end. I can harp away for hours on cost implications. This article however only serves to get us all thinking.

Customisable:

There are a plethora of themes/templates available for CMS platforms which shape the appearance of a CMS website. Many of them are free and many more are available as premium themes which come at a cost. Themes are not only built around appearance, but also around functionality. Some themes support only portfolios whilst others support e-commerce, forums, membership websites, blogs and many more. It is also worth noting that a specific theme can be created for your company’s CMS website. Although there are many themes available you do not have to run the risk of your website looking like all the others out there. Many themes or templates are also very customisable and your web designer can easily tweak or completely alter the look by using HTML5, CSS and php languages.

Maintenance:

When using a non-CMS website it may be very difficult for a non-designer/developer to maintain the website. Maintenance of a non-CMS website is best left for the designer/developer to do. Doing maintenance on a non-CMS website requires a FTP (file transfer protocol) client with which amended pages of the website are uploaded to the server. This therefore requires knowledge of coding as well as FTP clients and the server-side actions.

With a CMS website, maintenance is extremely easy. All CMS websites have an administrator application, also referred to as a dashboard or backend. This simply entails signing in on the administrative dashboard and making changes to the website such as posting new articles, blog posts, images, new items in your online store etc. Although doing this may require some very basic skills which can easily be acquired, there will be no need to understand any programming languages or any other coding. As mentioned above, any change to your website that you make is in real time and immediately visible to visitors to your website.

dashboard

View of administrator’s dashboard.

SEO:

SEO is something that you will always see me ranting about. This is simply because SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is so important in a world where online competition to get noticed is fierce. In addition to asking your designer/developer to assist you with SEO strategies using best practices there are quite a number of SEO plugins that can help you to optimise your website for better search engine rankings. With premium and free plugins available you can do basic SEO optimisation yourself. CMS websites were not so SEO friendly a couple of years ago. This has however changed and in addition to plugins a designer/developer can tweak the HTML5 code created by the specific CMS platform in order to make it more SEO friendly.

Safety considerations:

As with any website or web application, data and customers’ information are risk factors to be seriously considered. Hackers are always trying to get into data driven websites with a view to obtain information for various reasons. Securing data on a website has therefore become increasingly important since the advent of the internet. CMS platforms has always been a target of hackers. For this reason all CMS platforms are regularly updated to enhance security. CMS platforms all have very active developing communities working together non-stop to improve among others the security of your CMS website. Besides regular updates to the core of the specific platform there are also many additional security plugins available to safeguard information and keep intruders at bay.

This post is not intended to be a complete discussion in respect of Content Management Systems. You are welcome to make any comment and contribute to the discussion.

®WebScripto, a Pretoria based Web Design Company

Author Eitel Bock

Author Eitel Bock

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