CMS a Popular Request
Many of our website clients enter into their website project wanting to come out of it with a Content Management System (CMS). This comes as no surprise in light of the fact that CMS tools like Drupal, Joomla and WordPress continue to gain popularity. Since we consider dynamic content to be a cornerstone of a strong web marketing presence, this is a product we offer and we are happy to provide.
While we encourage the use of a CMS, however, we first try to educate our clients on what this really means to them. A Content Management System is not a silver bullet to solve all their internet woes. While very simple in theory, it is almost always more complex to manage than what they expect. Consequently, while we encourage the use of a CMS, we make sure that each client has realistic expectations on what it will take to manage their content. Following is a short list of the Pros and Cons of a CMS that we generally lay out with our clients prior to starting a project.
The Pros of a CMS
- Allows for multiple users to post updates.
- Enables the ongoing creation of dynamic content for strong SEO.
- Can support a variety of content types including text, photos, videos, etc.
- Puts control of your website content into your hands.
- Keeps ongoing cost of site updates at a manageable level.
- Available plug-ins for open source CMS products offer significant functional flexibility.
The Cons of a CMS
- Open source or not, building a user-friendly CMS costs more up-front.
- The framework of your CMS can limit design flexibility.
- Basic technical knowledge of design and HTML is a definite help if not a requirement.
- To be user friendly, a CMS often has limitations for editing, file types, graphics, etc.
- Access by multiple users can pose a security risk and mistakes go “live” immediately.
- Managing a CMS takes more time than expected and often gets neglected.
We generally recommend WordPress as the best CMS solution but even this simple platform requires some effort the client may not anticipate. In our experience, clients generally appreciate getting a more realistic set of expectations on what it really takes to manage a CMS based website. The key factors, aside from price, that generally help them make the decision after getting a look behind the scenes are the time and technical knowledge required to manage a CMS properly. The technical aspect can be trained but the time is usually something they understand will be an ongoing limitation.
In many cases, clients request that we only build or permit CMS capabilities into the website for high input areas, like blogs, that they can reasonably manage. This is a hybrid solution that gives them a degree of comfort that they can make updates but not be overwhelmed. We also leave the door open to make even those update for them if they so choose. When they have the resources, clients can do a very nice job of keeping their website populated with excellent dynamic content. In more cases than not, though, they simply don’t have the time and we end up managing all updates as a simple matter of experience and convenience.
Do you have experience with CMS websites? If so, what are your thoughts?