A content management system (CMS) allows you to
ADD and EDIT your own web pages — anytime, anywhere....
WITHOUT having to ask your web designer!
It’s one of the questions I get asked the most by my clients: “Will I be able to make my own changes?”
For a regular website, the answer, unfortunately, is usually “No.”
There is a software package, called Contribute , that allows you to edit your website from your own computer, just like you edit a document in a word processor. And if you have a small website, this might be a good option for you.
But if your site is larger, and/or if you are planning to keep adding new pages to it, then having it built on a content management system is a much more convenient and flexible approach.
The up-front cost of designing your site will be higher — usually by about 50% — but for most site owners that will easily pay itself back because you can make all your own changes, without having to pay a webmaster to do them for you.
And the other major benefit of a CMS is convenience. If you have to work through someone else every time you want to edit your site, it will be a slow and frustrating process.....no matter how responsive your designer is.
It’s much more flexible if you can edit things yourself — you can try all kinds of changes to see how they look, and keep on making improvements whenever you feel like it.
And a CMS will allow you to simply log into your site through a web browser — from anywhere in the world — and make all of your changes online.
The software runs on your web host, so you won’t have to install anything on your own computer. You can even edit your site from an Internet Café while you’re on holiday in Thailand!
Sounds like a nice way to run a website, doesn’t it?
So let’s look at your different options for a content management system....
Choosing the right CMS
There is a wide variety of content management software available, and choosing the right one for your application 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 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 quite challenging (and expensive) 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.
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.
Putting it all together
Regardless of the CMS you choose to work with, you will likely need some professional help to get your site up and running.
Many of the content management systems I’ve mentioned offer additional services to set up your site the way you want it. However, it may be a good idea to shop around and make sure that these services aren’t overpriced.
Or you can find a professional design firm to take care of everything for you. Word-of-mouth is often the best way to find a local company, or you can search for a design firm with the skills you need on the net.
Hiring Arvana Design Studios
I’m in the lucky position of being able to pick and choose what clients I work with — I’ve been successful enough to only take on the projects I know I’ll really enjoy. If you fit my ideal client profile, my team and I may be happy to work with you personally.
If your website project involves....
- a topic related to holistic healthcare, organic food & agriculture, expansion of human consciousness, or the arts....
- an interesting or unique business model for online success....
- and a budget of over $2500....
....then I would definitely like to hear from you, and we can see if we would be a good fit to work together on your website.
It has given me a lot of pleasure over the years to watch my clients’ Internet businesses get started and grow — and I’d love to help you achieve the same success.
So please tell me what you need, and I would be glad to help. You can either contact me directly....
....or you can fill out my no-obligation quotation request form to get the ball rolling.