If you’re anything like us, you’ve spent a fair amount of time wrestling with your content to make it work and look exactly how you want it to. It can be a frustrating fight — especially when you don’t have a fair amount of time to spare.
This is why content management systems (CMS) arrived to rescue those of us without an HTML black belt from the time-sucking tasks of formatting, fitting, coding and designing the content we worked so damn hard to create in the first place.
Now, thanks to many CMS options we can spend more time loving our content — and especially our clients’ content — instead of grappling with it.What is a CMS (content management system)?
A content management system is like having an entire publishing house at your fingertips — and you’re the boss. It has functions to help you manage workflow, as people contribute stories, data, videos, photos, or whatever kind of information you’re handling through your website. You control where it goes, what it looks like and how users interact with it. Content management systems have helped redefine organization when it comes to internet data. The best part is that using a CMS is an absolute breeze, which is kind of the point: Making content easy to manage.
Most people running a one-person show are attracted to WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr or posterous. Each CMS is good for its own reasons, and they are all quickly improving to offer more precise content functions to their different types of users — even if it’s just to share hilarious cat material.
However, you’re not likely to keep an updated journal of recent lol catz on your business website. This is something content management systems like Joomla, Drupal and Silver Stripe recognize. Efficiency and group organization is their game, fuelled by an open source philosophy allowing them to grow and improve to meet the demands of users.
There are plenty of content management systems out there to choose from. Time spent learning which one is best suited for you, means less time spent battling with your work and more time making it awesome.
Order in the court — ‘There is a place for everything and everything in its place.’ Content management systems allow users to control exactly how the functions of the system should operate and which ones they want to use. Do you want an entire staff contributing, sharing and organizing your content or do you want complete control over every word? It’s totally up to you.
Chaos control — Lots of great content means lots of contributors. By taking advantage of a CMS users can open up or restrict contributors to the handling of their content. It could be advantageous for a company to allow more than one person access to edit, change, rearrange and/or fix material once it’s published. However, too many cooks in the kitchen can also lead to trouble. Managing the control of who uses the CMS and how they use it is a big advantage.
Smart spending — Good web developers are expensive. And they should be. But high-end web development isn’t so high on the priority list for many people making great use of their website. And it shouldn’t be. Some of the best content management systems are free to use. If a problem arises that’s too big or complex for you and your google search, a web developer is now affordable because of all the money you saved using a CMS in the first place.
Ninja skills — Using CMS isn’t going to suddenly make you a savvy internet super star. But it will give you the opportunity to do things on the computer that were once out of reach. Now, even rudimentary HTML knowledge can open all kinds of doors to the world of content publishing. CMS dashboards, control panels and templates are easily understood and accessible.
Always improving — Need something your CMS doesn’t have? Go get it. It’s likely out there and because of the open-source nature of these systems there are huge support communities to help you find and explain exactly what it is you are looking for. Chances are someone else has had to deal with a similar situation.
Always growing — From the same interface, users can add pages to a site and/or incorporate a blog at the same time. With so many avenues available to continue growing your content, limitations are only there if you put them on yourself.
Upgrades galore — Open source systems are great because third party developers are usually just as excited to help out with their expertise as you are to receive it. Also, as technology standards rapidly improve, content management systems too must improve — bringing new features to your CMS all the time. Just make sure it’s worth your while to use them.
Custom fit — We are all individual snowflakes. And so are our websites. CMS developers understand this and take pride in giving you the opportunity to be as detailed or as simple as you want to be when using their systems.
Fresh look — Need a new look? No problem. Seriously, NO problem. A total redesign or a just different take on your current theme can be taken care of in a couple clicks. If you have an idea of what you want, most content management systems go out of their way to make it hassle-free for you to get it done.
Behind the scenes — Visitors mean the world to you, which is why SEO and analytics are so important to your website’s success. All these important tools are integrated into content management systems letting you keep a close eye on on who, how and why visitors came to your site.
Costly endeavour — If you have decided you need more than an what open source CMS can offer, a custom CMS with a professional touch can be expensive up front — something worth considering when figuring out what you want to achieve with your CMS.
Learning curve— Sure, using a CMS dashboard is a breeze. But it takes time to understand its capabilities and where to find the things you need. As with anything new, it’s going to take some time to figure out.
Risky business — Doing things yourself is free, but it’s not the safest way to go. There will surely be mistakes along the way. Without a basic understanding of how to market yourself online, it can be a risk to put yourself out there unsure of negative consequences.
Time is not on your side — Real online success takes time. Even for gifted HTML professionals, it takes time to implement successful ideas into fast-moving technology. It’s no different for those of us still learning the basics. As exciting and simple content management systems are, they demand a proper time investment from users for content to really shine. For many small businesses, this time is costly. In the long run it can sometimes be more efficient and economical to pay a professional to manage your content.
There are no shortage of options out there to help make your content worth every last second you spent making it. Find the one that is right for you, and enjoy the time you have with it — people will notice.