When setting up a website, the Content Management System (CMS) is one of the most important things to consider.
For anyone unfamiliar with the term, a CMS is a system that drives a website’s pages and helps the owner publish and organise content. A CMS is not a requirement, but it is recommended for the vast majority of cases. Without a CMS, updating pages can become a time consuming – and sometimes technical – process. And unless you only intend to update a few times a year, having a system to manage content, pages, and images will make life far easier.
So which one to choose?
There are a number of important aspects to consider when selecting a CMS. Your Web consultant will be able to advise on the various options and recommend one to suit your circumstances. Content Management Systems vary considerably and each will excel in one or more areas. For example, some are more geared towards blogging, while others can adapt to a wide range of situations. It is important to establish the purpose of the website and any functionality needed before selecting the CMS. Some things to think about include:
- How user-friendly the system is.
- The ability of the software to handle the expected level of traffic.
- Is the system ‘SEO friendly’?
- How fast the system can react and serve pages to the user.
- The flexibility of the software to adapt to changes.
- How much (if any) customisation is needed.
- The level of support available. For example, is there an active development community?
Note: for a more in-depth look at CMS systems, read our Smart Sites Are Content Managed post.
Free, custom or commercial?
What suits one website may be unsuitable for another and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Having said that, many of the modern systems can adapt to most website types with relative ease. In fact, some of the best CMS variants such as WordPress are free of charge and still manage to power many of the world’s most popular websites. Although a commercial CMS can be suitable for some projects, there is often no need to pay expensive fees. Before spending a small fortune on a custom, in-house solution or agency CMS, we recommend investigating more affordable options prior to development.
The most popular CMS providers can handle a wide range of plug-ins (otherwise known as add-ons). These bring additional functionality to the CMS, achieving results that would otherwise require lengthy (and costly) development time. This is great news if you have a tight budget, since complex features can be included without the cost and time it takes to develop a custom solution.
Type of website
Different sites require different approaches, and this is also true when it comes to selecting a CMS. A basic business website requiring pages, a blog, images and contact functionality would be ideally served by a free CMS solution. However, a complex site may require a more flexible, commercial approach, especially if the site is to have e-commerce features. Ultimately, the decision will be based on practicality, cost and long-term sustainability.
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