A Content Management System (CMS) is the “back end” of a web site. Think of a web site as a series of pages, you have a home page, a services page, an about us page, etc. Each page if made up of some text, images, and formatting information. Now, how do you make changes to the content of these pages? Most business owners would answer: well, I call my web designer and he charges me an hourly rate for making changes. If you are not very tech savy, this is probably the best solution. But, if you are pretty comfortable with using a computer, such as sending emails or creating well formatted Word documents, you may want to talk to your web designer about creating a content management system.
A CMS allows you, the site owner, to update certain sections of your site without the need for a programmer or without any real technical skills. Ask your web designer for a demonstration before making any decision.
There are many content management solutions out there, we will break them into two categories here.
- Pre-Programmed Solution: There are a ton of CMS solutions out there that can easily be installed on most web hosting environments. The benefit is that most of the programming is done so you this keeps development costs down and there are most likely plug-ins that you can purchase to handle just about any need you can dream up. Additionally, with hundreds of thousands of sites already using these solutions, we know they work and hopefully security concerns have already been addressed. The disadvantage of a premade solution is in their lack of flexibility and steep learning curve. Software such has Joomla or WordPress (this site uses WordPress) are necessarily complex as they have been programmed to be used in as many different situations as possible. Expect to spend a lot of time learning the software after the web designer has completed customization for your specific site.
- Custom Programmed Solution: In my experience, a custom solution is preferred as it allows your web designer to create a site and content management system that is tailored to your business specifically. While the up-front costs may be a little more, in the long run the learning curve is minimal, as the web designer has thought through how to create a solution that matches with your existing business situation and technological expertise level.