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What is a Content Management System and why does every business needs one?

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What is a Content Management System and why does every business needs one?

Content Management System

A Content Management System software that as the name suggests manages the content. To the visitor it will appear like any plain website however the administrator of a content management system (CMS) website has the ability to manage all the content of the website via a nice interface from the backend. The content will be modifiable using HTML editors in addition to which it may also be possible to modify other sections of the website using the CMS.

Why do you need one?

A website is a must for just about any business. If you do need convincing about creating a website for your business the facts and figures mentioned below should easy convince you.

  • The number of Internet users in 1995 was 14%

  • The number of Internet users in 2000 was 50%

  • The number of Internet users in 2010 was 75%

  • The number of Internet users in 2014 (last year) was 87%

  • It is a fact that 80% of the Internet users prefer to do their research for product, service and even brand on the Internet prior to making a purchase or committing for a service.

[Source: http://www.pewinternet.org/]

Since a website is essential for every business it is important to know what options you have.

  • Blog

  • Informational Website

  • Business Catalog

  • E-Commerce Website

There are several methods in which these websites can be built as listed below:

  • Simple Static Website (using HTML)

  • Dynamic Website (Using PHP or .NET)

  • Content Management Website (Using either a free or paid premade software).

  • eCommerce Website(Using either a free or paid premade software).

For the end users (Business Owners) who are technologically savvy it might be fine to have a Static Website. However you know you need a CMS (Content Management System) if you have answered yes to the following questions:

  • Does your website have more than 15 pages that require updating quite often?

  • Do you need to constantly update your news & events section, the photo gallery or portfolio?

  • Do you lack enough programming (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) skills to make quick changes, add pages or replace images?

Here is what a CMS has to offer in brief:

  • Blog for your business

  • Ability to publish Media

  • Create User base (registration & login)

  • Quick contact forms

  • Event Management

  • Newsletter manager

  • Forum

How a CMS works and its benefits:

A CMS will usually make use of a database. While most of the CMS around make use of databases like MySQL or mSQL, there are a few also use the file system. Here are a few ‘need to know’ facts:

  • The page content which can be entered or edited from the backend is stored in the database.

  • When loading a page on the user side, the CMS refers to the database to retrieve the page content, loads the template that has been selected and then dynamically renders the page.

There are several benefits of using a CMS:

  • Ability to create or modify pages and instantly publish them on the internet.

  • Since CMS makes use of a template, it makes it easier to maintain the consistency on each page of the website.

  • With a CMS the template (design) can be replaced or modified along with the content via a simple interface.

  • Most of the CMS systems are already optimised for a search engine and hence are very good from the SEP perspective. Besides which many CMS will also have additional plugins available to enhance the SEO functionality of the website.

  • A CMS can be updated for functionality and security or fixes without affecting the content or design of your website.

What to look for in a CMS?

To start with it is a good idea to make a list of requirements for your website. These can be requirements like, user registration, contact forms, forum, etc. Here are a list of features that the CMS you pick should ideally have.

  • Core functions: The CMS should ideally have the basic functions like creating, editing and deleting content pages and at the same time at least have the basic Blog features. All most all CMS software will have these features however it is important to verify them and more importantly observe how it is done. For example does it provide additional features like sorting option, good and easy to use, etc.

  • Editor: The main aim of a Content Management System (CMS) is for you to be able to manage the content, hence the CMS will most certainly allow this. However make sure you get a good editor that works. It often happens that the editor does not work on all the browser.

The editor is a very useful tool to have and the more the features it has the better. Some of the editors are very basic and do not allow much besides textual manipulations. Ideally it would be a good idea to have an editor that has the ability to import images, and other media items like flash and also allow to edit the content in HTML.

  • Asset management: A CMS should ideally also be able to manage the other items on the website. For example it is useful to have a CMS that also manages the images and other informational files like Word files and PDFs.

  • Search feature: A robust search option can be vital. Thus make sure that the search functionality available on the website is fast, searches the necessary categories or content and above all delivers what you require.

  • Customization: In general a CMS is quite thorough and even has the feature of adding plugins. But there are times when you requirements are highly specific which require customizing the CMS to some extent. Thus you need to choose a CMS that is somewhat flexible and easy to customize either from the administrative panel or from the programming code itself (like PHP).

  • Usability: A CMS should not should ideally not have a steep learning curve. Everything about the CSM (administrative section) should be intuitive. This includes the functionality to create and manage pages and the harder sections like inserting the images and formatting the content.

  • Multiple user levels: You CMS is bound to have an Administrative section which is password protected. However the CMS have multiple user functionality where each user can be set a different level of access it would be very useful. For example the most common user roles are Administrator, Author, and Editor.

  • Multilingual Support: English is the international language that all accept however at times you do have the requirement to include a local language. This feature can be incorporated into a CMS and hence it is a good idea to look for one with such a feature.

Types of CMS:

  • Proprietary CMS: Proprietary CMS systems are premium systems that will come at a cost. These CMS are very feature rich and will usually include customer and technical support well.

  • Open Source: An open source CMS on the other hand is usually free. The open source system will usually not have support of any kind however they will usually have plenty of support available in forms and blogs on the internet.

  • Custom CMS: A custom CMS is a CMS that is made from a core programming language like PHP.or .NET This is made as per the requirements of a client be tailor made to suit their firm

Popular Open Source CMS

  • WordPress: WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) around. It was designed for blogging purpose but has slowly evolved into a full-fledged CMS.

Plugins & Templates: The big advantage of using WordPress is that there are plenty of templates readily available for it. In addition to which there also a lot of plugins to help you enhance you the functionality of your website.

Usage: WordPress is currently being used in 23.4% of the websites. This means. This means it has 60.7% of the CMS market share.

  • Joomla: Joomla is also a widely used CMS and is used by many big firms, like Ebay, Barnes & Nobles, ad Pizza Hut. Joomla is slightly more complicated than WordPress and there are more possibilities meet the requirements of larger websites. For example it has good multi-lingual capabilities as well as good security.

Plugins & Templates: Joomla too has plenty of templates for you to choose from and they can even be custom made. The list of plugins for Joomla is also quite high though not as high as WordPress. On the other hand, Joomla has very strong social website and ecommerce website plugins as compared to WordPress.

Usage: Joomla is being currently used in about 2.9% of the websites. This means it effectively has 7.4% of the CMS market share.

  • Drupal: Drupal has been around for a while, longer than either Joomla or WordPress. However it has a higher learning curve compared to them and hence it is not as popular. That said, amongst the list of companies that use Drupal are some major firms, including several Embassies of some countries.

Plugins & Templates: With Drupal, you have limited options when it comes to selection of a template or even download of plugins.

Usage: Drupal is currently being used by 2% of the websites which give it 5.1% of the CMS market share.

[Source for fact: http://w3techs.com/]

Custom Content Management System – The Alternative:

There are many different CMS software available for you to choose form as a business. Hence it is advisable for a small or medium size business to opt for one of those open source or premade CMS.

A custom CMS on the other hand can be useful for a large firm or a firm with special requirements. The reason being that a custom CMS can be designed in a way that meets the requirements of the firm. For example if you need to design your website (CMS) for speed that can be done. In addition to which you can include special functionality and even leave out the undesired bits.

Thus what you get is a special purpose CMS that has been designed and configured to server and meet the requirements of your business.

Premade vs Custom CMS

The decision on whether to opt for a premade or pre-built CMS or a Custom CMS needs to based on your basic requirements. There are few main factors that should ideally influence your decision.

  • Custom Functionality: If your website requires a lot of custom functionality that is very different from the functionality of the CMS and that of any of the plugins that may be available, you have no option but to do some custom programming. In general it is harder for a web developer to modify an CMS to the extent to implement your custom functionality. On the other hand if you opt for a custom CMS it makes things much easier. However, this also depends on the complexity of the custom requirements.

  • User Base: Most of the pre-built CMS available have a pre-existing user base structure that can be utilized for several purposes. From creating a social community, to simply allow users to login to download files only meant for them to even creating individual user accounts, the structure already exists. Hence if your website has such a requirement it makes sense to go with a pre-built CMS.

  • Updates: When it comes to a custom CMS, once it is built you a done. You are not likely to hear from the web developer unless you also have a maintenance contract with him. That is not the case when you choose a pre-built CMS. Your pre-built CMS will always be updated with the latest security, technology and fixes thus keeping your website more secure.

Conclusion:

Thus at the end of the day it is necessary for your website to incorporate all the features you require, but there are other factors that are also important like support, security and training. The best way forward would be to first list out what are the requirements of your website and how important they are.

Alakmalak is a firm that has been around since a while, having developed more than 2000 websites for firms all around the world. Hence they have a fair idea of what your requirements mean and how they can be transformed into a website.

This makes them one of the safest people to select when it comes to making a fool proof website.

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