An Intro to Content Management Systems
In today’s global commerce it is essential for businesses to have a website. Many individuals also have personal websites they use for blogging or fun. Whether a business or individual, though, keeping your website content fresh and ensuring you have a clean site that is easy to navigate is critical. Without it browsers to your site will leave instead of reading the information you supply.
Personal users can lose fans and contributors to their blog which can be frustrating. However, businesses without a website that is easy for browsers to navigate may lose customers resulting in a loss of income. An ideal solution is to use a CMS or Content Management System.
Functions of a Content Management System
A content management system or CMS allows you to easily update your own site without needing to have knowledge of coding. The CMS administrative panel typically uses a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) system. This means that you can write text and insert images and arrange them how you want them. When you publish your content it will look the same as you created it in the editor.
A CMS allows the user to design a site and use various applications quickly and easily. Once the initial design is determined the site can be updated with little effort. You can even rearrange and change the design very easily. CMS’s are highly customizable and you can often find design templates that include color schemes and graphics for free or very inexpensively. Alternately, you can hire a graphic artist to design the colors and graphics.
What Tools are Available in a CMS?
The purpose of a CMS is to make the web site owner’s job easier in modifying and updating the website. To that end, many CMS’s have a variety of tools that you can choose with the click of a button to help enhance the functionality of the website. Some of these tools include:
Registration system so users can log in to the site to access various areas
Banner managers to administer advertising campaigns
Blogs where you can post new content and have users reply and share your information
Contact management to organize contacts and create multiple forms for easy correspondence
Polls for a fun, interactive feature
Search mechanisms so users can find items throughout your site based on keywords
Link management so you can organize and categorize outbound links
RSS and news feed management so you can provide continual new content to users
Menu management so you can add/delete/modify menus as needed
Extensions where you can download useful or fun additions to the site
Search Engine Optimization tools that allow you to increase exposure to your site
Installing and Using a CMS
There is a variety of CMS programs available. Many web hosts offer one or more options in a CMS as one click installs. This makes it very easy to begin using even for a complete novice. Many of the top rated CMS programs are open source and free. This means that you can upload the software to your site and use it without paying for it and users contribute to its continued design and functionality.
You can typically find the CMS’s that are available as one click downloads in your account control panel. If, however, you do not have any available one click install CMS’s available, you can download it yourself and install it according to the instructions provided.
If you are uncomfortable installing the CMS by yourself you can hire someone to do it for you. You can usually hire a consultant to install and even customize your CMS for you relatively inexpensively. Use of this is generally less expensive than hiring a web designer to code your entire site from scratch. There are other CMS programs available for a fee but unless you have very specific functionality or possess a large website that needs an enterprise solution usually the open source solutions will be sufficient.
Benefits of Using a Content Management System
If you are considering a redesign of your existing site or you have a new site you want built, why should you even consider using a CMS over a hand coded design? The primary factors are cost and flexibility. You can get ample functionality for most sites with a CMS and you can do it yourself. You do not need to wait on a web designer when you want a change or addition to your site.
Web designers have their place and can be valuable when you need a specific customized application. However, if you want to do it yourself a CMS will:
Improve efficiency when writing posts or articles
Allow for a faster publishing rate for new or modified content
Maintain an easy method of navigating through the site
Ensure site security
Allow scalability so as your business grows your site will grow with you
Provide an attractive, clean website to users
Save money in design and implementation
Assists you to garner more exposure on the Internet
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