The Benefits of Using a Content Management System for Your Project

It is our belief that all websites nowadays (big and small) should be build with some sort of CMS (Content Management System). It is just the way to do business. But why? What are the benefits of using a CMS? Well, there are plenty; from the admin user interface to maintenance to access level control to templates. We outline the major points below.

It is our belief that all websites nowadays (big and small) should be build with some sort of CMS (Content Management System). It is just the way to do business. But why? What are the benefits of using a CMS? Well, there are plenty; from the admin user interface to maintenance to access level control to templates. We outline the major points below.

Administration User Interface

All CMS’s use some sort of administrator backend interface. This is where an admin, manager, editor, or some other person maintaining the site has a place to login and make changes as necessary. This means that there is one place to go to do pretty much all of your maintenance work. For most administrators, this means no more opening fragile files in ftp that you could easily mess up. No need to worry about messing up the code in a file. (Opps, no more undos – We have all been there, right?). You need a username and password to login, so only qualified users are able to access. It’s a good way to separate your front end from your backend. The best about an admin UI is that they are web based, so all you need is a web browser, an internet connection, and your credentials. You can log into it from anywhere in the world.

Access Control Level

Once you build a site that will have registered users, you start diving into access control. Users are assigned roles and permissions that prevent them from editing content which they are not authorized to change. Maybe you don’t want unregistered guests to see a certain section of your site. Then maybe your registered users are broken up into Silver Members, Gold Members, and Platinum Members. Each have a sections that they are only allowed to see. And/or maybe each higher lever inherits permissions from the lower level. So say, Silver Members are allowed to see Section A. Gold Members are allowed to see Sections A & B. Platinum Members are allowed to see Section A & B & C. Gold Members inherit permissions from Silver Members, and Platinum Members inherit permissions from Silver and Gold Members. Most CMS’s have some sort of Access Level Control. Even if it is basic, there are usually 3rd party plugins to extend the control.

By far the CMS with the best Access Control is Drupal. In 2nd will be Joomla 1.6 (currently in Alpha 2).

Templates and Themes

Your site should have a central theme or “look” to it. This is where CMS’s shine (besides the obvious of content management). Each page on your site is not a file, like on a traditional static website. For instance, if you have an About Page, there is no corresponding about.html file. When you customize your template, your whole site (every page) will have that same look. So you don’t have to go into each individual page and style it. Saving you loads of time. But also be aware that with most CMS’s, you can use multiple templates on your site so you can have different looks on different pages. Making your life so much easier.

Separation of Content & Design

Separation is good, real good. Like I said earlier, there is no individual file fore each page. So where is my content stored when I write it. The answer is the database. It is dynamically pull when it is called upon. Say you login into your backend and write a page called About Us. You save it and publish it. Where is it? It is in raw format in the database. The database is separate from your files. The database just sits there until it is called into action. Your design files and code are stored separately in static files not in the database. These are both good for easy transfer of your site across web servers, as well as updating your site to new looks and feels.

Extensions

Besides a basic website, you probably want to add something to it. Like maybe a forum, a shop, a blog, support center, some cool animation, a rotating slider, or whatever your heart desires. With the bigger CMS’s there are thousands of extensions and 3rd party plugins to use to enhance your site. You can also just code in your own if you want. CMS’s are easily scalable, allowing your site to grow as your company does.

Built in SEO

SEO is a concern for every webmaster, and it is usually a headache. Most people don’t know where to start. CMS’s allow for automatic Search Engine Friendly url pages (ex: http://example.com/this-is-my-article instead of http://example.com/article-6?=/653445) They also allow for easy entering of meta data for each page, or site wide.

Content Management (It’s in the name)

Content Management Systems do what they sound like – they help you manage your content. A CMS allows you to create/edit/delete your site pages without getting into the coding side of things. For larger sites, they also make organization easier. The content is stored in a database, which lives on a web server, alleviating the need to back up hundreds of HTML files.

Development costs are cheaper for open source content management systems

Choosing a CMS will make your project cheaper overall. That is if you use an Open Source CMS; which you better! There is no reason to buy a $30k CMS. Not even for major corporations. You will spend less money on programming, since a content management system takes care of most of that, but you will still want to hire a great web designer/developer to design your site. You want the look and feel of your site to be professional and polished. Take a look at our web solutions here at PicxelPlay.

So to wrap it up, always use a CMS for a website, whatever type it may be. There are a ton of systems out there that can do great things, some which specialize in certain things. Contact us if you need some helping choosing a CMS.

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