A Content Management System (Content Management System) is web application software that is developed by third-party programmers that allow clients to easily update website content using only a web browser such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari or Chrome.
Most Content Management Systems offer an Editor that looks very much like a Microsoft Word interface to allow for easy editing of content. The most popular Open Source Content Management Systems include WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
- No Software or Training Needed. A Content Management System eliminates the need to purchase software or provide additional training to maintain your website. Prior to the development of Open Source Content Management Systems, Dreamweaver and/or Contribute had been a popular way to maintain static sites. A Content Management System eliminates the need to purchase Dreamweaver software ($399.00) or Contribute ($199.00) plus the associated costs and time for training needed to effectively use the software. All you need is a computer with a web browser and internet connection to edit or add content to your website.
- Little to No HTML Knowledge Needed: Content Management Systems are designed with non-technical authors in mind. People with average knowledge of word processing software (ie. Microsoft Word) can edit and create content, add images and upload multimedia files easily. Little to no html knowledge is necessary to maintain a website.
- Decreased Web Maintenance Costs: A Content Management System eliminates outsourcing of web maintenance services to an outside web developer. Because staff members are able to easily edit or add content, you can eliminate the expense and turnaround time it takes to outsource website updates.
- Maintaining Consistency of Website Design: Because content is stored separately from the design of the site, new content is presented with the same consistent design throughout the entire website.
- Easily Updatable Navigation: Menu navigation is easily updated and are typically generated automatically and adjusted within the Content Management System. You can typically reorder navigation using a drop and drag method.
- Website Content is Stored in a Database: Database content storage means that content can be reused or featured in many places on the website and reformatted for many different devices including mobile phones, ipads and printers without having to reenter content.
- Lowered Costs to Enhance Your Website: Thousands of pre-programmed Modules, Components and Plugins are available for free with commercial versions typically running under $100.00 that add additional functionality to your website such as forum, polls, ecommerce applications, site search, photo galleries, event calendars etc. Typically InteractiveWest would have to provide custom programming to accomodate these additional features when development is performed outside a Content Management System where typical costs range from $250.00 to $1,500.00.
- User Management: Multiple users can access the backend of the Content Management System to make updates at the same time. User Management assigns roles and permissions for Staff Members to update website content and also prevents them from making updates or adding content to the website which they are not authorized to change.
- Meeting SEO Requirements: A Content Management System is the best platform to develop websites that meet all the Search Engine Optimization requirements. I can easily turn on Search Engine URL’s so Search Engines can crawl site and including links for all pages within the site. I can also easily do SEO markup that is necessary to increase Search Engine Rankings.
- Cross Browser Compatability: There is nothing more frustrating and expensive than making your website coding view the same in a variety of browsers that include 4 versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome on both a Mac and PC. Content Management Systems typically offer free updates to keep up with the ever changing web browser software that is used to view websites.
While there are dozens of Open Source Content Management Systems available, there are three that seem to have hit critical mass – WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. WordPress in the past has been primarily used a blog system but is currently being used more and more as a content managment system for smaller websites. Drupal is a highly complex Content Management System but is not very easy to use. Joomla, the most popular Content Management System is easy to use with thousands (7,300) of free and commercial modules, components and plugins available for free with commercial versions typically under $100 that provide additional functionality for a fraction of the cost.
There are also a number of free or low cost commercial sources for templates that are available for download that are easily customizable. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal also provide free access to their Support Knowledgebase and Support Forums for answers to specific support questions.
Joomla, Drupal and WordPress Application software are Open Source software meaning that your building on an open platform where you’re not tied to any particular web development company. It is also available as a free download and can be easily installed on a Unix Server running Apache. Many web hosting companies offer it as part of their basic web hosting package.