Remember when websites were more like digital flyers? Long gone are the days when you could get away with a single page of content to represent your business. Modern websites are dynamic, living digital creatures that grow and evolve. At least, that’s what they should be if you are taking full advantage of your web presence. Or maybe you are reluctant to make any updates to your site because it’s not user-friendly? Luckily, there is a solution for that—a content management system (CMS). At our Maryland web design agency, we use content management systems for many clients, and here is why.
What is a content management system?
A CMS is a platform that integrates with your website to provide an intuitive content editor and site management solution. It absorbs content placement, styling and editing functions, so it all can be done through a single interface. Among other things, a CMS makes it easy to:
- add new pages to your website
- edit existent information, such as your address and phone number
- upload photos and videos
- change your website’s navigation and architecture
- collaborate on the website content with several people
Without a CMS, all these changes would have had to be done via code by your web developer. Don’t get us wrong, having a CMS doesn’t eliminate the need for a web developer, but it makes it possible to take care of small website updates in-house.
Benefits of Having a CMS
Different CMSs have different features, but most of them offer similar benefits.
Easy to Use
If you are more or less computer-savvy, know what a browser is and how to operate MS Office, you will learn a CMS pretty quickly. It’s important to note, however, that different types of CMSs are built differently and some are more intuitive than others.
If you feel comfortable using a CMS, you’ll be able to take care of some simple changes without involving your web developer, which means reduced website maintenance costs.
With a CMS, you don’t have to update each page individually when you need to change a few words in the footer. Such elements as footers, headers and sidebars typically only need to be updated once to show the new content throughout the site, thanks to the dynamic structure of a CMS.
Access from Anywhere
A big benefit of a CMS is that it can be accessed from any internet-connected device. You don’t have to have website files on your computer to push the updates live. Everything is online, so you can log in from home, work and even from your vacation getaway.
Optimize for Search
CMSs have some built-in features to make your website more SEO-friendly, but you can have even more control with custom plugins. Editing page titles, meta descriptions, creating sitemaps and keeping track of duplicate content is much easier with a CMS.
Who Will be Using the CMS?
What we see with many of our clients is that the initial excitement of being able to edit every part of their website soon wears off. While logging into a CMS to add a new photo to your gallery might be easier and faster than with plain HTML, it still takes some time. And if you are constantly updating your website with new products, images or blog articles, this time adds up. If you are planning to handle certain website updates in-house, consider hiring a qualified person who will be mostly responsible for your website’s content. This way you don’t just pile additional duties on your already overwhelmed (often not very tech-savvy) employees. A CMS is a powerful tool, but in the wrong hands it can bring your site down and cost hours of troubleshooting.
Which CMS Should You Choose?
WordPress is one of the most popular CMSs available today, and it’s what we use for the websites we build. We have found that WordPress meets both our design and development requirements and the needs of our clients. Joomla and Drupal are also popular platforms and we have quite a bit of experience with them. In some areas, they are more customizable than WordPress but, for the most part, these extra features don’t make a big difference for an average business website.
At Advantage Internet Marketing, we are always happy to assist our clients with website updates, but in case you ever need to be able to manage your website’s content independently, you can rely on a CMS. Besides, whether it’s you or us making changes, a CMS is often the most efficient way to do it. Of course, every CMS is limiting in certain ways, but even if the functionality you need isn’t there, it can often be achieved through plugins and custom development.
Looking to transition your website to a new CMS? Give us a call! Our developers have experience with most modern content management systems and will be happy to help you choose the right platform and prepare for the move.