If you’ve ever thought about owning a website, you are probably at least somewhat familiar with what a Content Management System (CMS) is. But in case you’re not, here is the opening sentence from Wikipedia’s definition:
“A Web Content Management System (WCMS) is a software system that provides website authoring, collaboration, and administration tools designed to allow users with little knowledge of web programming languages or markup languages to create and manage website content with relative ease.”
That sounds pretty appealing, doesn’t it? I mean, who doesn’t want to do things with “relative ease?” And most people I know do have “little knowledge of web programming languages or markup languages” and they’d like it to stay that way! With that in mind, the rest of this article will discuss several benefits of using a CMS. So without any further buildup, here are five reasons why your website should have a good CMS…
For most people, the thought of making changes to a website is a little bit intimidating. And there are certainly tasks that are best left to professional designers and developers. But when it comes to your website content (text, images, video, etc.), that’s something you should be able to claim ownership of. A good CMS allows you to do that with minimal fuss. If you’ve ever created a document in any word processing software, then you have the skills necessary to create or update web content in a CMS. This empowers you to take full ownership of your content and communicate your messsage when, where, and how you think is best. Simply point, click, type!
Save Time and Money
It becomes fairly obvious after considering the first benefit above, but if you have the ability to maintain your own website content, you save time and money by eliminating the need for a professional web designer to manage your content. Once your web designer has designed and implemented your website in a CMS and shown you how to use it, you now have the keys to drive it. So instead of typing up content in a text document, emailing it to the designer, discussing cost and payment, then waiting for the designer to make the requested changes…you simply login to your CMS admin panel, locate the area you would like to update, make your changes, then click Save. Voila! Instant website updates – at no cost. In an increasingly complex world, simplicity is a beautiful thing!
Here’s where your professional web designer comes into play (you didn’t think I’d completely remove myself from the process, did you?). A professional web design company can install and configure a good CMS for you, and also design the layout and visual elements/styles that will define the appearance of your website. Once this is done properly, every page you create in your CMS will have the same design styles applied, making for a consistent appearance from page to page. But the benefit to you is that you don’t need to worry about making sure you use the same styles on each page – that happens automatically for you within the framework of the CMS. This includes colors, fonts, positioning, standard page elements such as header and footer, and a consistent navigation menu on each page. All you have to do is focus on your content. The CMS beautifully and seamlessly incorporates your content into the design of the website.
A good Content Management System is built on the principle of modularity. This simply means that the elements and functionality of the website are broken out into self-contained parts. This approach allows for extensibility. What that means for you, the website owner, is that pretty much any feature or functionality you can dream up can be added to your website through small programs often called extensions. Extensions come in several different varieties, from full-scale components to small plugins. Some are commercial (paid) and many are non-commercial (free). They can be used with out-of-the-box functionality, or they can be customized (by a developer). Extensions provide a fairly quick method of adding new features to your website. Examples include calendars, social integration, image sliders, contact forms, user forums, and much more. A good CMS makes it straight-forward to take advantage of the vast number of third-party extensions available on the internet.
Built-in SEO Benefits
With the ever increasing size of the web, it’s not enough to simply have a website. No matter what your market or niche, you undoubtedly have online competition. This is why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become a service industry entirely unto itself in the past decade or two. In case you’ve been in a bunker for the past several years and aren’t familiar with the concept, SEO is the process of improving the visibility or ranking of your website in search engine results. SEO is more of an art than a science, but there are several basic techniques that are widely accepted that involve the coding and structure of your website. Do you know how to implement those techniques? I didn’t think so. Not to worry…a good CMS will handle much of the basic website optimization behind the scenes, leaving you to focus on generating good, relevant content. Do keep in mind that what we’re talking about here is basic SEO, but every bit helps in increasing your website traffic. For more advanced SEO, you’ll need to hire a professional. But with a good CMS, you’ve got a good start already.
So those are just five of many reasons why a good CMS is a great idea for your website. Even large corporations can benefit from a Content Management System – a topic that I plan to explore in a future article. But for small businesses, medium-sized businesses, non-profits, churches, or individuals, using a CMS is really a no-brainer. Rather than relying on someone else to keep your website fresh, take control of your content and make your website your own.
If you don’t currently have a website or your website is not using a good CMS, get in touch with me and we can discuss your options. I think you’ll quickly find that a Content Management System is an excellent way to build your website.
Feel free to comment below on your experience with Content Management Systems, or perhaps you can share if you have a favorite CMS.