Is a content management system right for me?
When developing your business website there are many things that you need to consider. Who is your target audience? What are your goals for the website? How will your website be used and updated? The answers to these questions will help determine the best type of website for your company. A content management system (CMS) is a popular option for getting businesses online fast. Some popular content managements systems are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. They are relatively easy to set up and do not require knowledge of code to install. A CMS is also relatively easy to update and maintain allowing users to focus on content rather than design. On the other hand, some businesses may feel restricted by the limitations of a particular content management system. There are many factors to consider when deciding if a CMS is the ideal choice for your business.
Advantages of a content management system
Quick set up
A website created with modern content management systems can be set up quickly with minimal configuration necessary to get the site online. They generally require a connection to a database to function. This can usually be created quite easily in your web host’s control panel. Once this is done you simply enter the database name, username and password while installing the content management system. If the content for the website is already created it simply has to be input into the CMS. This quick set up makes content management systems ideal for anyone that needs an online presence as soon as possible.
Easy to add content
One of the main selling points of content management systems is that it is easy to add and update content. To utilize the system you do not need to be a web designer or even know how to code. Using text editors, similar in function to familiar word processing programs, you can start adding content to your website fairly easily. You can add text, images or links to other websites in a “what you see is what you get” environment. Most content management systems also support embedding content from other popular sites such as videos from YouTube.
Easy to collaborate
Collaboration is key to any system that requires input from multiple individuals. Content management systems are also collaborative environments. Access to different features of the CMS can be managed by user roles. Multiple users can then interact with content based on the permissions granted by their roles. For example, contributors can create content that needs to be edited by an editor before it is published. An administrator can control content as well as user roles and the other preferences of the CMS.
Easy to customize
A CMS can usually be extended by plugins and themes. Some of these themes and plugins may be available for free while premium themes and plugins have to be bought. Themes change the appearance of your website while plugins change the functionality. For example a sports theme will help a website dedicated to sports look more entertaining and focus on presenting scores, player profiles and other sports information. A plugin, for example, may help to capture spam before it clutters up your site’s comments. These tools allow you to customize the content management system to meet your specific needs.
Easy to find help
Finding help for any problems you may encounter with popular content management systems is not too difficult. Chances are that someone has had a similar problem before an has asked a question about it in some forum. This could be a forum run by the vendor of the content management system or a completely independent site. This is due to the active communities of users of the various content management systems. Since many popular content management systems are open source it also means that community members have access to the code and can provide specific technical assistance if that is needed.
Disadvantages of a content management system
Default look is common
The default look of the content management system is not very unique. Anybody who does not make the effort to change the default appearance of the CMS will have a theme that is not very original. This can easily be rectified by trying new themes but even then the theme will likely not be exclusive to only your website. It is common to see the most popular themes used on multiple websites.
Customization may affect performance
While it is easy to customize a CMS with plugins and themes, having too many of them may negatively affect the performance of your website. A feature rich theme will take longer to load than a simple theme with less bells and whistles.Plugins may take up resources and the more plugins that you have active the more dependencies your website develops. Poorly coded or outdated themes or plugins can also cause conflicts and incompatibilities.
Limited to constraints of the content management system
As easy as a CMS is to create and manage your website will always be limited by the same constraints as the system you choose to use. If there is a vulnerability to the content management system your website will be vulnerable until the vulnerability is patched. If the specific content management system performs some task slowly this will also affect your website. The popularity of the content management system may also affect the number of themes or plugins that are available for that particular system.
Like any other system there are benefits and disadvantages of using a content management system. If your website needs constant updates and collaboration a content management system is probably your best bet. If you are comfortable with coding or want full control of the functionality of your website you may be better off with a custom designed website.