Want to set up your site so that you – and your collaborators – can easily manage its content?
Here’s how to build your own website based on a content management system (CMS)
Whether you develop your site entirely by yourself, or hire programmers to take care of some of the details, using a content management system can make your site a real pleasure to manage.
Getting everything set up properly will be a technically challenging project, because even the simplest CMS has a lot of complex programming. So if you can, I’d recommend finding someone to help you — a developer who already has experience in building templates and features into your particular CMS.
So which CMS should you use?
Choosing your content management system
There’s a wide variety of different content management systems available, and the best one to choose for your needs depends on what features you want to have on your site.
Here are some of the things you might want to consider including:
- a discussion forum...
- newsletter signup...
- a shopping cart...
- advanced editing features...
- collaborative text contribution...
- ad management...
- and content syndication.
There is a free online service called CMS Matrix that is a great help in choosing a CMS that has all of the features you need — though you will first need to learn the lingo to be able to use it effectively.
There are basically two different types of CMS: open-source and professional. It’s very important for you to know what you’re getting, because it can be difficult to switch to a different CMS later on.
So I’ll give you a few details here about each type....
Open-source CMS platforms
The open source movement is a community of programmers from around the world, who all collaborate on software and make it available for free. Linux and OpenOffice are probably the best-known open source packages.
There are a large number of open-source CMS’s available, and some of them are truly excellent — both in terms of their quality and their features.
Open-source CMS’s have some great advantages:
- They are free. You’ll still need them to be installed and customized before you have a website to call your own, but they can definitely make your site cheaper to produce than using a professional CMS.
- They often have very supportive communities. If you have any problems working on your site, and you can’t get a hold of your web designer, you can probably get an answer on their online forums.
- There are often a lot of add-on modules that give your site more features — and they can usually be installed later on, as your site grows and you need more functionality.
Of course, there are some disadvantages as well....
- Development can be slow. If you are waiting for a particular new feature, it will only be available when the programmer(s) get around to making it. Most open-source developers work on these projects in their spare time, so if they get busy with other work, the CMS can get put on the back burner.
- No direct technical support. This usually isn’t a problem, because your web designer will be familiar enough with the CMS to solve most problems — and the community support can be very good. But there is nobody being paid to take care of any issues you may have.
- No accountability. If your website gets compromised by a hacker, there is nobody to take responsibility. For most websites, there is a very minimal chance of this happening, but I generally wouldn’t recommend that a medium-to-large sized ecommerce site be run on an open-source platform.
For many website owners, these disadvantages are minor, and an open-source CMS can be an excellent way to go. If you are creating an informational website, with little or no ecommerce on it, this is what I would likely recommend.
Here’s a free website that has ratings and live demos of the available open-source CMS packages: openSourceCMS .
Professional CMS platforms
If your site is going to sell a large number of products via the Internet, then you will most likely want to invest in a professional software package to help you manage your online catalogue.
Professional CMS systems range from fairly basic shopping cart software, to full-service enterprise solutions. They usually much less technical knowledge to set up than open-source platforms, and generally have full-time technical support staff to help you get everything running smoothly.
Here are three that are worth looking at:
- X-Cart is an inexpensive yet full-featured shopping cart system, which can be fully customized to give your site the look & feel you want. It allows you to add and change product listings online, without needing any technical skills — you simply log in to the password-protected administration area, and you can make any changes you like.
- Site Build It is an all-in-one package that allows you to take control of not only the content, but the design of your site as well. Its graphical design features are slightly outdated by today’s standards, but overall it is an excellent and powerful package — especially for informational websites — that has allowed many work-at-home amateurs to make six-figure incomes from the Internet. I have a review of Site Build It here.
- Netsuite is probably the best enterprise-level service available. If you want to build a medium-to-large ecommerce website, Netsuite has just about everything you can imagine already built in. Many highly successful Internet stores use this package to reach their target markets.
Making your site into a success
Beyond the design and setup of your website, you still have a few more steps to complete before your site becomes a successful online business.
Exactly how you make money from your site will depend on whether it is sales-oriented or informational....
....but in either case you will need to make sure that you streamline your revenue process to maximize your income.
You also need to build a large volume of traffic to your site. The more targeted visitors your site gets, the larger an income stream it can generate.
There are a couple of resources that I recommend, which will definitely help you get the results you want:
- The Internet Marketing Center’s “Insider Secrets” and “Warp Speed Wealth” courses are both excellent....
- And Trafficology publishes an outstanding monthly newsletter of traffic-building tips, which (as I’m writing this) you can get for two months free.
I also have some inexpensive ebooks that will help you build and promote a successful site for next-to-nothing.
And for the ultimate personal guidance towards Internet success, have a look at everything you get in my Platinum Protégé mentoring program!