A content management system (CMS) provides the infrastructure you need to create your website and update it easily on a regular basis, with little technical expertise required. You can use a CMS to add, edit and update pages via a straightforward, user-friendly interface.
These are extremely popular among businesses, plus other people who really need to make use of a website but don’t have the coding knowledge to do everything from scratch. However, there isn’t just one solution for everyone, and you might want to consider alternatives.
Who should be using a CMS?
If most of the following apply to your situation, then you are probably an ideal candidate for a CMS:
- You have a large number of pages to maintain
- Updates to your website will be constant
- You post editorial content which needs reviewing before going live
- Many internal users need to be updating the website for different reasons
- You or your team have limited web development expertise
On the other hand, if the following conditions apply, a CMS might not be for you:
- You are highly skilled when it comes to coding and building websites
- You won’t need to make changes to your site regularly
- Your website is actually your product, and it needs to be completely unique
- You want full control over every detail of the design
- You dislike being limited by a predetermined structure
How would I started using a CMS?
If you were to use a content management system for your website, you would usually begin by choosing a preset theme (either free or paid) and customising it with your design scheme and branding. After adding menus and a basic navigational structure, this will become a master template which is used for all your pages.
After the initial setup, creating new pages is easy. They can be automatically designed and linked in your navigation menus simply by adding content and selecting your preferences. In most cases, a CMS will use an intuitive interface which is easy for any average user to understand after some basic training.
What else should I consider?
A free, open source system might be the best choice for you, and it is certainly the most popular. WordPress is a great example, and you can benefit from the wealth of technical support available for the most popular systems. More expensive templates will have more functionality but might be harder to troubleshoot if something does go wrong. A custom CMS can work if you are willing to invest in it, but then you will only be able to rely on the original developer for technical help.
Consider search engine optimisation (SEO) when building your website in a CMS. You need to ensure your system supports sitemaps, allows you to enter custom meta tags, generates SEO-friendly URLS by default and so on. Some systems won’t let you make full use of important SEO features.