What are Content Management Systems and Why Do You Need One?

Submitted by admin on Thu, 01/12/2012 - 12:04

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Content Management Systems

Content management systems (CMS) are the way of the future.  Generally speaking, CMS refers to a tool that allows one or many users to update, modify and delete stored information and data.  In the wild world of the web, CMS is used to create a websites in which certain users are granted access to the “backend” of the site.  This means that users are provided an interface that allows them to interact with the website in order to change their site’s content without having any programming experience. 

Logging into the backend of a CMS website is just as easy as logging into Facebook.  Once you’re in, you’ll discover that many of the tools are very intuitive and easy to use.  The best way to explain how CMS works is to give you a short tour.  Take a look at the following images:


The first depicts the home page of the new content management system that Dirt Bird Productions created for, artist, Jineen Griffith.  The second depicts the “Recent Work” page, which contains an image gallery.  As you can see, the website has a custom feel to it that is very difficult to achieve with standard do-it-yourself programs such as iWeb or template Wordpress.  You might never know that this is CMS.

Jineen can log in to her site by using the log in portal with a username and password:

Next she can easily update her artwork by uploading new images, deleting old ones, or reassigning them to the archive.  Each image also gets tagged on import so site users can sort through the work by term.

She also has the capability to change her home page images, which display in a rotating slideshow.

The possibilities are endless in a CMS site.  So, aside from the obvious, why do you need one?

Why You Need CMS

You don't have to call your web developer every time you need something updated on your site. 

Your designer / developer will need to set up the platform, create a design and implement it, and assign permissions so that you can log in to the backend.  Once the dirty work is done, the site will be ready for you to change, update, delete, and create content.  This means that you will no longer have to call your developer to change minor things like the store hours, or the image on the home page… You won’t even have to call you developer to change major things like menu items or contact forms thus saving money in the long run.

If you want a blog with your site, you can have it.

Most template blog platforms have a fairly similar look that may not be representative of your business.  Not only that, if you choose to use a template blog platform, that is about all you're going to get.  With CMS, you can create a custom look and feel, have a home page or splash page, have a blog, an image gallery... almost anything you can dream up to create an awesome virtual environment for your site visitors.  You're not limited to a simple blog, and, heck, if you don't want a blog, then you don't have to have one!

By nature, a CMS site will provide the building blocks for large-scale changes and updates on your site. 

Content management systems are inherently set up to make it easier to make large scale changes on a website.  For example:  You've just opened up a new business in downtown Ketchum.  You want a web presence so people can Google your business, find out more about what you sell, and then come into the shop.  In the future, you want to start selling items online.  Right now, you have neither the capability nor the funds to start up ecommerce, but that doesn't mean you can't get a website.  Using the old hard coded, HTML approach, you would need to start at ground zero when creating an ecommerce site.  With CMS, you can start with a simple splash page, and then years down the road can still add ecommerce without having to start all over.   Even site wide design, navigation and site layout are easier to update with changes as your business grows and changes.

CMS sites have built in Search Engine Optimization Tools.

Content management system sites contain the tools that you need to run a successful SEO campaign.  Every time you load an image, you are asked to provide some small, but important SEO data.  Every time you create a page, SEO tools are at your fingertips.  CMS sites also make it easy to register your site with search engines like Google and Bing.  You can also create search engine friendly site maps.  In a hard coded HTML site, SEO is going to be very difficult.  Not only is your data stagnant, but it's also much more difficult to stay on top of optimization especially when you don't know any code.  

CMS sites let you choose who can do what within the site.

Every content management system comes with built in permissions.  This means that different users can have different roles throughout the site.  Your secretary might have a role in which he or she may only be able to access the calendar to add important company events.  You may have a role with greater permissions, with which you can add blog posts or update the image gallery.  Ideally, you would split up the needs of web maintenance within your company in order to optimize a good flow of information throughout the site.  

Content Management is a fun way to either start your new website or revamp your old one.  As you can see, CMS provides a ton of great online opportunities! 


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