Unless you work in the web design field or are familiar with computers and various software applications, owning a website and doing maintenance can be an overwhelming task. A content management system (CMS) is going to be your best friend for managing your website. A CMS will allow you to control various elements of your site without having a lot of technical know-how. This could be anything from adding and removing text, switching out graphics, adding new links or even pages to your website.
Please understand that when picking out a CMS for your SMB (small to medium) sized business you are not going to be doing any programming. You will be picking out the frame work, which often uses coding languages like PHP, Java, ASP.NET, etc. These scripting languages will act independently on your server and allow you to make changes easily. For instance, if you are running an eCommerce store it would be vital that you can add/remove products as you add new inventory to your site. You could simply hide a product making them inaccessible until you restock your supply, or even make exclusive pages for seasonal or promotional sales items, as well. The basic principle behind a CMS is you want to manage your content and having a flexible CMS has many benefits.
Features of a CMS:
Integration – The faster and more dynamic the CMS is the better. External applications that can integrate content aggregation and syndication are essential to enhancing the user’s experience. Furthermore, API’s and Ajax are being integrated into content management systems to make them as dynamic as possible.
Adding Content – With a good CMS you should easily be able to cut and paste an article from Microsoft Word or your favorite text application. The easier to managing content with as few clicks of the mouse the better. This goes along with adding pictures and videos, too.
Communication – Improve your B2C (business to customer) communication is a must with a CMS, and the integration of VOIP systems and online screen sharing application are easily done with a good CMS.
Software Updates – Whenever a bug has been discovered or diagnosed, frequent updates or patches are integrated into the framework of the CMS. This ensures that everything runs efficiently with minimal downtime or frustration on your end.
Outside Help – When you have a CMS there is no need to hire a web developer or maintenance tech. You can simply perform maintenance as you see fit and even do it yourself. This can save you thousands of dollars per month.
Now that we know the features of a CMS, let’s look at some of the most popular ones that are offered.
Joomla – Ran by an open source code, this is one of the most popular CMS’s for many reasons. User management is supported and supports more than one protocol at a time. Using authentication which is an already built in feature can allow many different extensions, which can give you the flexibility to build a social networking site, a portal, or even eCommerce store. This is easily done by the user configuring their settings under the “personal options”. The Media manager allows you the flexibility to add a number of different media files by configuring the MIME type setting. Simply upload files to your library and use them on your website anywhere.
However, global changes are easy on Joomla as you can change the look in feel of your website by switching out the theme in a matter of seconds. Countless free or paid themes are available to customize to your needs. Advertisements are easily changed globally. Multi language support is easy to integrate in any Joomla ran website making your site accessible all around the world. Reliability is certainly another pro to the Joomla open source CMS.
WordPress – Ran as open source code mostly popular by bloggers, WordPress can be used for full blown websites (portfolio, news, magazine, eCommerce, etc.), too. It is not quite as dynamic as Joomla, but easier to use for the novice computer user. In order to install any bells and whistles you could imagine on the WordPress CMS platform you are going to install plugins and widgets to do a specific function. For instance, let’s say you wanted a shopping cart application installed on the right hand side on every page. You could easily download, install, and activate the plugin or widget to get the desired job done.
Multiple users are also supported with WordPress which allows you to specify their account privileges. One of the most feature rich advantages to WordPress as a CMS is the graphic user interface (GUI) which is integrated with a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) text editor. Along with all these features there are tons of free and paid templates that you can customize to your liking.
Drupal – This is another free framework CMS platform, which allows you to create dynamic websites without any scripting knowledge. It should be noted that Drupal is equally as complex as Joomla and much harder to learn than WordPress. The architecture behind Drupal is organized in different modules. These can either be switched on and off. The taxonomy system is extremely powerful which makes managing massive websites very simple. Simply, create key terms and associate content with those terms to manage large categories of pages within your website.
Running Drupal on some servers can be an issue as it uses a fair amount of MySQL database storage. On the plus side, there are many free and paid themes in which you can install and customize to your liking. However, since Drupal is pretty complex it would be wise to hire a Drupal specialist to help troubleshoot any issues you might run into, seeing how Drupal doesn’t have a parent site where you get full support, as you would be able to with WordPress and Joomla.