You’re ready to take your business online, or perhaps you have an existing Web site and realize the need to upgrade the look and feel. While structure and ease of use on the front end is important for catching and keeping the attention of visitors, it’s equally vital to have a content management system (CMS) you can operate with little or no difficulty. You may find as you interview prospective Web designers that customized programs are available for your use. The question is, what should you look for in a good CMS, and what options are available to you?
Choosing the Right CMS for Your Website
Before diving right into the creation or renovation of a site, one must understand what a content management system is and does. The CMS of your website is where you, or your webmaster, handle the maintenance of the site. From adding new pages to editing current ones, setting up contact forms or widgets for social media, everything you do in the back affects what the actual site looks like. Think of the CMS as the fuse box in your home. You tinker with a few wires to make sure the lights are working correctly – so it is with content management.
Examples of Content Management Systems
Do you use Blogger or WordPress to maintain a weblog? If so, you are using a CMS. Every time you log in to write a new post you manage your content through a specialized CMS program. Other programs, like Joomla and Drupal, allow site owners to create and customize sites for a variety of uses. You may find some designers use these systems when working with clients, or they may create a proprietary program for your use. If you go with the latter, it’s recommended to find a system with these features:
Easy Web Access – You want to be certain you can get to your site from anywhere. The backend should have an administrator log in page and dashboard for maintenance 24/7.
Drag and Drop Features – For sites with lengthy menu sidebars and widget capability, it’s nice to have a CMS that let’s you easily position links where you want them to go. A drag and drop feature for positioning modules on a web template is ideal for the novice user.
Ease of Graphic Placement – Photos can be a bear to manage online, so having a good photo editing systems in your CMS can help you upload, resize, and position graphics simply.
HTML and WYSIWYG Editor Options – For those who aren’t very proficient in HTML, an editor designed to work like a regular word processing program can assist site owners in page creation. Having the HTML option as well is a plus, for one can use it to tweak font sizes and colors. When shopping CMS systems, make sure yours works both ways.
Instant Publishing Ability – If you need to get a page launched immediately, you want a CMS system that publishes with the click of a mouse. Consequently, if you need to remove pages, you should be able to quickly.
RSS Publishing – These days RSS feeds can be imported into Twitter and Facebook. If you constantly publish new material, you should be able to syndicate as much as possible, and have a CMS that does it for you.
While there are other bells and whistles one may desire on a Web site, ask about these features when you talk with your site developer. Your Web should be simple to weave.