A Content Management System (CMS) is an application designed to make it easy for webmasters to add to, edit, or manage a website without the need for any technical skills. The system does much more than this, however. It also handles making the content of the site both index-able and manageable, tracks users along with their security settings and permissions, automatically generates elements of navigation, and more. The system does this for all content, regardless of its medium or form, and many vendors now offer programs of this type.
A content management system ensures greater consistency in a website while improving site navigation for users. Furthermore, it enhances the flexibility of the site and allows a faster turnaround time when a user wishes to add new pages or content. Changes to the site require less time to be completed when a CMS is used, and the authoring process is streamlined. Search engines tend to penalize sites for duplicate content, so the content management system looks for this type of content to remove it. When one chooses to use an application of this type, they find site maintenance costs decrease, the site’s ability to grow increases, and security is boosted.
At present, webmasters have hundreds of content management systems to choose from, and each has its benefits and drawbacks. To determine which Content Management System (CMS) is right for an organization, the requirements of the business must be outlined. The goal is to find a system that dramatically simplifies a website’s maintenance. Anything less, and one isn’t gaining the edge needed to remain above competitors. How does one go about selecting a content management system?
Users must identify the metrics used to determine the effectiveness of a CMS. Some turn to web usage statistics to measure performance, yet others rely on customer satisfaction surveys. The time needed to develop new pages may be used to rate the effectiveness of a content management system, but some users opt to look at printing and distribution costs to determine if the new CMS is meeting their needs. Each business needs to choose the metrics they feel are of most concern based on their unique goals.
Users must also decide which type of program they wish to use. Many organizations opt for open source software, as it costs nothing to install and manage the program. The software administrator will find numerous open source programs to choose from, including JAVA, PHP and Perl versions. Some companies choose the software as a service option that includes software, support, and hosting provided by a single vendor, and this option often includes free services. Other businesses, however, elect to go with proprietary software installed and managed on their server, with some software options being offered at no charge. Three popular PHP open source options are described below.
Beginners often turn to the WordPress CMS simply because it can be mastered in a matter of hours, sometimes less. The user can have the program up and running within minutes and begin exploring all that the program can do. New versions update with no user input, and the selection of themes and plugins cannot be matched by any other content management system. Furthermore, a user can easily find help if a problem is encountered, thanks to the documentation and help available online.
If a business needs increased functionality in a CMS, the Joomla CMS may be the best option. The program installs easily on a system and works with shared hosting packages. Some organizations find this CMS to be a bit overwhelming, as it offers more than they could ever possibly use. The one major drawback to this system is users find they have to pay for many themes and plugins. A business must determine if they are willing to do so when comparing the different CMS options.
The Drupal CMS remains a popular option as it can easily be installed, and users find it has a variety of features to recommend it. Users can add profiles, forums, and more to a site with ease, and content can be organized in different categories and at multiple levels. Why many prefer this CMS, however, is the active community that powers Drupal and the outstanding support available.
For those unable to find a program that meets their needs, a custom CMS may be developed. When this option is chosen, the software is created to meet the business’s unique needs and requirements. Most businesses find an existing program is all they need to manage and organize content quickly and easily.
Take the time to explore various content management systems to determine which best meets your organization’s needs. Thanks to the variety of programs available, most users will find a system with ease. For those who cannot, the custom CMS option remains open. Every business needs a system of this type and, thanks to the benefits provided, businesses should continue looking until the right one is found.