Web Content Management Systems (WCMS or CMS) are systems that facilitate the creation, management and delivery of information on websites. The CMS will allow you to create and edit content directly on your website. Even non-technical users and those who do not know HTML are able to add and manage a variety of content on a website such as text, links, pictures, videos, or audio.
A basic CMS includes varying security and access levels depending on the needs and skills of the individual users. Content Management Systems are being used for ecommerce, knowledge and document management, information dissemination, integration with accounting and business systems, and moving business processes online.
There are a number of CMS options and your reasons for choosing one will be specific to the needs of your business. There are many open source options as well as custom-built programs. One size does not fit all. Your budget, functionality needs, and timelines will all contribute to your decision-making process. When researching different systems, look for some of these features:
• Extensive pre-built features
• Upgrade path
• More functionality
• Increased security
• Fewer software issues
• Easy to use interface
• Integration expertise
• Resources to develop additional functionality
• Lower total cost of ownership
• Training availability
• Faster content updates
• User and technical documentation
• Track workflow and audit trails
• Application help
• Problem knowledge base
• Not reliant on employees with an organization
How Do I Choose a CMS?
When considering a CMS, do your research first. Here are some good first steps:
1) Conduct internal research – do an analysis of your current systems and technology. Is there a chance that deleting and archiving content might help your site function more smoothly? Will the addition of meta data or a redesign of your home page solve your problems? Doing this analysis could save a lot of time and money.
2) Outline scenarios that aren’t being fulfilled by your existing technology – does it take days rather than hours to update the site? Can related content be easily linked within the site? List the things you need/want to do that you currently can’t do.
3) Determine the types of technology that will satisfy your need – create a ‘testable’ work flow scenario so that potential vendors can show you how their product fulfills your needs. If going for a ‘do it yourself’ model, read through knowledge databases or forums to understand the complexity of website setup and functionality.
4) Test the product – rather than relying on a generic demo to see how the product works, have the vendor show you how it would work in your situation using your data and content. Then go and test it yourself before you sign any contract.
Some popular CMS systems include Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal. This website is built on the Joomla platform and has worked well through changes, upgrades and hacking threats. It’s worth taking time to investigate all your options before jumping in.
Which CMS do you prefer and why?
Marnie Hughes is an SEO copywriter, author and online marketer. She works with small and medium-sized businesses to develop their marketing and communications and expand their customer base.
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