What is a content management system?
A content management system (often referred to as a CMS), is a software platform that provides the ability for administrative users to add, edit, or remove content from a website that they own – without the need to understand and manipulate HTML and CSS code. This is because the website’s content (text, pictures, and data) is separated from its layout and visual design.
This means that you no longer require a technically-minded webmaster to make content updates to your company’s website. Instead, Emily from marketing or Jason from business development can contribute content to the website without them having any web development knowledge.
Who needs one?
Pretty much any business that has a website. Perhaps if you are a one man show, then you may only require a single-page website and have need for a CMS. But even then, you may not want to pay your web developer for constant updates such as changes to your portfolio, or adding new products to your offerings.
What can a content management system help our business do?
A content management system can streamline your business’ efforts when it comes to publishing marketing information online. Without requiring any technical knowledge, users of the system will be able to easily add, edit, and remove content on your websites landing pages.
Make text updates
Such trivial changes, no longer require the often arduous task of contacting your web developer, sending over the text changes, waiting for them to have time in their schedule, reviewing the changes, and then publishing them live. Instead, users can simply login to the CMS click the “edit” button for the required page and type their update text directly into the on-screen editor. What once took days to get organized, can now be done in minutes.
Publish posts on your blog
One of very popular website marketing efforts is publishing content on your website’s blog. This can help keep visitors up to date on not only your products and services, but also about your industry in general. By acting as an authoritative source of information in your niche, potential customers generate trust with your brand.
A content management system is the perfect tool for being able to create such content. New posts can be written in draft mode by an author, then passed over for review by and editor. Once everything is good to go, the content can be scheduled to be published at a specific date and time. You can even setup your publishing workflow to also simultaneously announce your new content on your social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Sell products online
To run an eCommerce website and directly sell your products online, a CMS is essential. Along with the management of the actual products and product categories, the CMS will allow you to set shipping rates, tax rules, and discount coupons. As well, your system will allow you to track orders, manage returns, and receive customer feedback.
Allow for quicker design changes and easier functionality enhancements
Because content management systems are generally built using a template approach to their development, it makes it significantly easier to be able to make changes to your website’s layout. Say for example, you want to add some social media links into the footer of your website. Rather than needing to edit 10 individual HTML files, you’ll only need to edit the footer template file, and the changes will be automatically applied across all the pages.
Control access to the website depending on user’s needs
Almost all CMS platforms have the ability to limit access to specific areas of the administration screens on a group level or on an individual user level – in many cases, by both. This ensures that your IT team can have full control over the complete website, allowing for plugin code to be updated and themes to be edited, while at the same time ensuring the marketing personnel are limited to writing blog posts.
Why choose WordPress?
At Leaf Design, our go-to content management system is WordPress. Originally built as a blogging platform back in 2003, WordPress is now viable as a fully-functioning content management system. However, this has only been the case since around 2010, once custom post types were introduced in version 3.0. This enhancement essentially allowed not just pages and (blog) posts to be published, but any type of data. It opened up WordPress to a whole world of new uses.
Open source software licensing (aka FREE)
WordPress is open source software, which means that it is freely available to use, with no software licensing costs. Currently, WordPress is used to run approximately 20% of all websites in the world wide web – with this number growing each year. For these reasons alone, it is clear that when you pick WordPress as your WordPress platform, you are not committing yourself to a proprietary system or locked into a specific company. There are hundreds of thousands of web development shops that can easily help you with your WordPress development needs.
Custom post types
As mentioned above, as of version 3.0 of WordPress, the system allows you to create “custom post types”. This means that developers are able to construct the back-end data structures and front-end user interface to handle just about any type of data that you website needs to manage. This can be your products, case studies, project portfolio, etc – almost anything.
Thousands of plugins available
Because of the open source nature of WordPress, there is a large community of plugins being developed that allow you to install and very easily extend the functionality of WordPress. Features such as eCommerce, event scheduling, and social media sharing can now be added to a WordPress-based website with minimal development costs. The majority of these plugins are generously worked on by developers and offered at no charge to the community, while others charge for their usage (albeit it is usually a very small amount).
WordPress is a very SEO-friendly platform right out of the box. Add to it one of the many popular SEO plugins, and you have a great start towards getting your website’s content indexed and ranking well on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
How much does a content management system cost?
The added cost of a content management system will depend on how customized it needs to be to suit your corporate website. Your content will determine the number of database structures that will need to be developed, as well as the amount of templates that will need to be created to display each section of page of the website.
However, the added cost to incorporate a content management system is often offset by savings in other areas of the web development process. Code from the various theme templates is re-used across the different sections of the website, thus lowering the effort spent on development. For sites with many pages of similar content, the economies of scale mean that your overall cost to develop each page is less.
The savings are not limited to just the initial development efforts. By being able to publish your own content, the cost to hire a web developer for maintenance and content updates is no longer required. You’ll also reap the benefit of being able to publish your content quicker because there is no middleman to slow down the process – after all, time is money.
The question you should really be asking is how much will it cost my business to not use a content management system?
Why wouldn’t I want one?
In some cases, there may be no need for a content management system. Perhaps as a small business owner, you know a little bit about HTML authoring and enjoy the task of making changes to your website with full control. However, even this use case should be limited to smaller websites. Anything over ten pages or so can quickly become a headache to manage – especially if you need to make design and layout changes, rather than just simple content updates.
With our recent projects here at Leaf Design, 95% are built upon some form of content management system. For most people it just makes sense as most businesses would rather spend time building their brand, rather than coding HTML.
Sign me up!
If you’d like to learn more about how utilizing WordPress as a platform management system can help streamline the process of your business publishing its digital marketing content, give us a call. We’d be more than happy to show you all the benefits.