Should someone who knows how to develop a website bother with content management systems? Are they worth it? Do they provide good value to the layman and the tech-savvy alike? Are they too restrictive? If you are building a website for someone, is a CMS always the answer?
These are some questions that this article will attempt to answer.
First a little about what they are for those who aren’t aware. A content management system is a way to massively simplify the adding of new content to websites. They are particularly useful for websites that need to update and change the content on a regular basis.
It also allows the end-user to change content. The guy (or girl) who may not be interested in knowing anything about HTML coding, or may not be competent enough to do so without causing serious problems in the code.
One benefit that’s not often mentioned is that it allows totally unskilled employees (with a small amount of training) to be able to do tasks that were previously beyond them. Even small eCommerce companies are starting to take on employees to help with the workload, not all of whom will be technically savvy enough to be useful for more than the most menial tasks (such as posting items). But with content management systems, they can get involved in the running of the website. This can give the website owner a welcome break.
So these are the good things, when talking about content management systems, what’s the downside?
A content management system can occasionally look out of place with the rest of the website if it’s not implemented well. Text for example; text is an integral part of the website aesthetics, but with a CMS it can be locked to a certain type of text; which does not fit with the overall tone of the website.
There may also be a need to spend extra time working on security. Which can increase the cost. Extra training can also inflate the cost.
Some of the skills learned using one CMS, may not be transferable to another, meaning that time spent learning how a particular CMS works can be wasted if the CMS is changed at a later date.
Some of the more tech-savvy users may find it too restrictive. They may not be quite competent enough to completely design and maintain their own website, but know enough to add features that aren’t possible with a CMS in place.
Is there any benefit for a website owner who knows how to competently update their own website without a CMS?
Provided of course that the right CMS is chosen. It can substantially reduce the amount of time it takes to update the content of your website. As mentioned earlier, it can also allow you to delegate the changing of content to trusted employees. One of the hardest aspects in eCommerce, is having to always be within 24 hours or so of an internet connection. This can sometimes feel a little bit like you are a prisoner of your own success, unable to go anywhere where there may not be an internet connection or a phone reception.
If you own a website that needs to be constantly changed, it can be tremendously useful to leave the website in the hands of a trusted employee using a CMS.
For web developers
If you are developing a website for someone else, learn a little about how their business works, do they need a CMS? Ask yourself whether or not they have a lot of potential content contributors on staff.
Also bear in mind that it will allow you to pass maintenance onto the client, this can be a good thing, but if you’re relying on this for income it can also be bad for you. That’s not to say that you should intentionally give a client an inferior product so that you can earn a living from them indefinitely, you should not. But there may be certain circumstances where your work may be vastly superior to that of an end-user using a CMS. In which case it may be in your client’s best interests that you carry out the work.
For most businesses, a CMS is a good idea, provided it’s the right one and it’s implemented correctly. It gives ordinary people the tools they need to look after their own websites, and even the paid ones are usually very good value for what the customer