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My philosophy as a website consultant from early on has always been to empower my clients. That’s why I’m so big on incorporating content management system (CMS) solutions every website I build. CMS solutions make it possible for persons without any technical knowlege to easily update content on the website, and a lot of newer systems make it even easy to update graphics in the website template using image layering. Anyone who is able to bold, underline, delete, and add text to a Microsoft Word document already has the skills it takes to use most CMS solutions.
Before the popularlity and affordability of CMS solutions, most small businesses had their websites done the old school way; they relied on a webmaster to construct their website and then he or she would FTP the website to a web host. All desired updates to the website had to go through that person. There was often a lot of back and forth with the webmaster (and delay of updates going live).
It’s best to outline the requirements needed in a CMS solution before making a choice on a particular system as not all CMS solutions are created equal. I made a mistake of choosing a CMS company that I used for many of my clients that did not have an FTP interface, meaning it was not possible for my clients to publish their websites with any other web host. If they wanted to use a different CMS company or web host, they couldn’t unless they had their entire website rebuilt. So word to the wise, make sure that FTP access and exporting of data is one of your requirements when choosing a system.
Fast forward to 2010 and WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla seem to be the top 3 CMS’s taking the world by storm. WordPress started off as a blog, but is now a fully featured CMS solution thanks to plugins that are widely available and easy to install to give a WordPress website just about any functionality imaginable. WordPress is what I use for my clients now. Besides being FREE, it can be used on pratically any web hosting environment and my clients are not locked into working with any one company.
Don’t pay monthly costs for features that you can get for free if your website can look just the same (or better) and have the same functionality (or better) with a free solution. If you are locked into a CMS solution and need your website rebuilt on a free tool like WordPress, contact a website consultant like myself with content management experience for help. There are some non-free systems out there worth considering; just make sure you can’t get the same possibilities with a free CMS, unless you just like paying money.
I’ll end with a quote from the CMS Myth website (www.cmsmyth.com) that says:
“Your CMS is Not a Toaster,” led by Jen Yuan, an IT communications analyst in Penn’s IS and computing department, hit the nail on the head: CMS is NOT the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s a tool to help you achieve your website goals. Nothing more, nothing less.