Updating a website is complicated and time-consuming work, particularly if you’re pursuing a content marketing strategy or making regular changes to your site. IT departments are becoming increasingly busy managing the technology needs of modern businesses, and have less time to devote to updating websites. Thankfully, web technology has developed to the point that even executives who can’t program their way out of a paper bag can still create valuable, compelling content that attracts visitors and drives sales. These automation solutions are called content management systems, and are fast becoming a staple of businesses online.
What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
A content management system, or CMS, is a software tool that simplifies the process of updating a website for the benefit of people unfamiliar with web programming languages and web design programs. It’s best used for web sites with sections that are updated on a regular basis, like blogs, product listings, announcements, etc.
Content management systems have been around for a long time (over a decade), but only recently have they become flexible and streamlined enough for the average user to use. The best and simplest CMS programs are nearly as easy to use as Microsoft Word (and some even allow you to import from Word directly).
There are many different kinds of CMS, each with their own unique combination of features, but here are some of the most common:
Automated templates. This feature applies a standard design and layout template to existing and subsequent web pages, much the same way a Powerpoint template applies the background to every slide. Any changes made to the template automatically cascade to the rest of the website.
Editable content. The bread and butter of any CMS. It allows users to add, edit, and remove content from a web page without having to go into the source code. Different CMS allow different levels of customization, from simple text formatting changes to advanced layout and photo editing options.
Content distribution. Many modern CMS programs give users options to distribute their content across the Internet via social media and RSS feeds. They can even apply social media buttons to the bottoms of pages so that readers can share content on their own.
Collaboration. Web content management systems often allow multiple users to access a single website. This spreads the burden of content management across teams, and allows employees within a company to have a direct hand in managing the content. Managers can impose security level access to preserve site quality and functionality if needed.
Why should I manage my own content?
There are many reasons you should manage your own online content:
Frequent content changes. Businesses that constantly update their website with new and seasonal products, or make regular updates or announcements, will quickly incur high contractor fees from any third-party developers they hire to manage their site. When you combine this with production delays (because you’re not the developer’s only client), you’ll see that doing the update yourself makes better sense.
Confidential information. If you’re distributing confidential information like employee salaries or customer information, you may not want a third party (or even another employee) to handle the update. Many content management systems offer user level access restrictions for both adding and viewing websites, so you can control who reads what.
Takes the load off IT. Most IT departments are way too busy to deal with transcribing a press release or blog post into HTML. By managing your own content, you are giving IT the breathing room they need to do more valuable tasks like support and infrastructure development.
Better collaboration. With a content management system, you’ll be able to tap into the expertise of your most valuable employees and allow them to share their insights on the company blog. Marketing departments will be able to grant access to engineers, salesmen, and support staff and have them as featured bloggers, which will give your readers more value and help your company gain thought leadership.
What are some examples of user-friendly web CMS programs?
WordPress started out as just a blogging tool, but it has since branched out into a fully capable CMS. It comes with a suite of standard content management options such as editable content, design templates, and file/image hosting. Optional modules called “widgets” provide websites with additional functionality such as calendars, sidebar links, and social media feeds, and are easily incorporated into the site layout. Additional design options such as fonts and templates can be purchased, as well as widgets with more advanced functionality. WordPress also provides hosting options with both WordPress and vanity domains. Many businesses websites are now created entirely in WordPress.
Blogger is a dedicated blogging CMS owned by Google. Like WordPress, it provides a range of pre-defined design templates, with the option to fully customize them to your preference. You can also create templates of your own, although you need to know the CSS language in order to do so. Blogger also makes use of widgets, although the range is somewhat more limited than on WordPress.
Blogger’s biggest advantage is its link to Google. Any Blogger page can be integrated with Google+, and can make use of Google’s AdSense service to generate revenue by displaying advertisements.
A free, open-source content management system, Joomla! is more powerful than WordPress and provides many more options for customization. Instead of widgets, Joomla! uses extensions such as plugins, languages, and modules to provide extra features, each with their own specific functions. The advanced customization makes Joomla! much more difficult to use than WordPress or Blogger, although there is a large community of Joomla! developers who support each other with guides, tips, and sample code.
Like WordPress, ExpressionEngine doesn’t require you to know any programming languages. But ExpressionEngine’s chief advantage over WordPress is its out-of-the-box flexibility. It uses the concept of “channels”, which is a way to categorize and subdivide your website into different sections and pages in a way that matches how your business actually operates. WordPress and other content management systems can match this flexibility as well, but have to be heavily customized in order to do so.
A CMS platform built by a business owner for business owners, Ringgle is an awesome online business platform. It is more than just a CMS platform and includes other tools that enables small business owners manage and run their entire online business from one single panel. Along with CMS, Ringgle also offers CRM, Blogs, Photos Galleries, Community Forums, FAQ modules, mobile websites, Secure Registration and Zones, eCommerce and online stores and tons of other features.