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The Content Management System Primer

Content Management Systems (CMS's) are seen across the Internet to help deliver an interactive and user-friendlier web site experience more than ever. Why would you use a Content Management System and what CMS is best for your needs? In this article Steve attempts to answer these questions, outlining the benefits and drawbacks of using a CMS instead of having your own in-house Webmaster.

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By: Steve Adcock
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May 01, 2002
  1. · The Content Management System Primer
  2. · What is the purpose of a CMS?
  3. · Conclusion

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The Content Management System Primer - What is the purpose of a CMS?
(Page 2 of 3 )

Especially for smaller companies and organizations, less time and money spent on the web site allows greater concentration on business needs, like landing contracts and marketing efforts. Moreover, CMS's are so easy to implement that it encourages more projects via the web, like marketing research, customer relations’ management and the establishment of sophisticated knowledge bases.

Only a few small years ago, a company could easily spend millions on the creation of interactive and user friendly web sites. With CMS’s however, companies can limit the expenditure to under 7-digits while still getting the absolute most for their buck. Furthermore, CMS's are not restricted to text, but can and do include pictures, flash presentations, streaming audio/video, images and even e-mail archives.

To a lesser extent, if you organization can only come up with beginning web developers, a CMS will jump your company's web staff appeal 10-fold. Some CMS's can easily add 10 years to a designer's skill set.

Why use a CMS?
Speed. Decreased production costs. Effective template based designs. Sound appealing? Content Management Systems can be your best friend, but they might also kick your web designer out the door in the process; more on that later. Focusing on free CMS's, many offer the administrator an easy to use news posting solution, complete with unique comments for each news article and user tracking.

Do not stop there, however, as many free CMS’s also deliver search engine capabilities and user login features so you'll know exactly how many repeat visitors your site is generating. Let's keep going. For those who want absolute tracking ability, CMS's will also keep a tally of exactly how many visitors viewed respective sections of your site.

Need to offer downloads? Again, no problem. With a few clicks, organized categories of available documents, images and software are intuitively offered on your site, instantly. If you crave absolute interactivity, most CMSs allow for every Webmaster to create polls to pick your visitor's minds on any subject that your heart desires.

But wait, there's more. If you're a part-time Webmaster and don't have enough time to create a design, or perhaps your lack of creativity is towering, CMS's offer pre-designed themes for your site, easily changed by the click of a button. That's right, with the click of a button, every page of your site is instantly changed to reflect the changes. In addition, many CMS's offer compliant and standardized code, ensuring your site will run well in all browsers.

Do you need security from the inside? Some CMS's support inbred security features to ensure only authorized webmasters can edit and add web files.

The bad side of CMS's
If you run a small organization or small business, the Content Management System may drive the webmaster to boredom, and we all know what happens when the webmaster gets bored: he also gets fired. Many organizations and small businesses can't justify the cost of supporting a Webmaster when a Content Management System is doing all of the work for them.

Do I need a CMS?
Deciding whether or not a Content Management System is in the best interest of your organization can be a daunting task. Shown below are aspects of a CMS you should strongly consider before your purchase:
  • Large volume needs: Do you need a Content Management System at all? If you have over...say...1,000 web documents, you should consider a CMS. Otherwise, consider saving your money.
  • Many writers, contributors and editors: A good sign that a CMS is needed is a large number of writers, contributors and editors, such as how things are run on devArticles.com. To get the publication off of the drawing board and in front of the eyes of people over the web, implementing a good CMS can keep things rolling quickly and efficiently.
  • Facial features: If you're spending money, you must consider all aspects of the system, not just the underlying code. Make sure the CMS offers proper user interface features to fit your needs, as turning back after a purchase and implementation is sometimes not possible.
  • Proprietary pause: Many CMS's are designed to work only with proprietary server software that may not be apparently advertised. Be sure the CMS will function correctly with the software you are currently using.
  • Database support: Most CMSs interact with databases, so be sure you know what your servers database capabilities are. If the CMS uses Oracle or SQL Server, then you will have to adjust adequately for that type of installation.

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