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Posted by Nat Walker on 02 June 2015

Does your business require a content management system? We explore the questions you should ask.

Welcome to the first in our series of 'Quick test' blog posts designed for you to read quickly but hopefully take away a lot! Our first topic is content management systems and whether your business needs one or not.   

What is a CMS?

A CMS or content management system is an application that allows people with no knowledge of coding to update website content. A CMS offers a significant advantage in reducing your reliance on a developer to make updates to the content of your website. A decision whether or not to use a CMS may not always be black and white though, so we’ve put together a checklist of questions that should help you make the right decision for your business.

What’s the business value of a CMS?

A quick search for content management systems will quickly reveal the huge number of systems available on the market. Some of these will be enterprise systems such as Sitecore or TerminalFour which are designed for large organisations and may come at considerable cost. Others such as WordpressJoomla or Drupal may be free to download and use (bear in mind that you may still need some expertise from a developer to get a free system up and running so ‘free to use’ won’t necessarily mean zero cost). 

Whatever the system, it’s important to weigh up the value to your business of using and maintaining a CMS. 

The word 'content' being written

For example, if your website is a lead generation tool built around a blog that will need to be updated frequently, it’s likely that a CMS will be a mandatory requirement. Without a CMS in place, unless you have in-house web development capability, you will have to go back to your website developer every time you need to add a blog post or update any other piece of content on your site. The more frequently this happens, the quicker the bills will start to rack up! 

On the other hand, if you operate a website that’s unlikely to require regular updates, the upfront cost of installing and maintaining a CMS may be too high and of little business value. 

How will your business benefit from using a CMS?

The simple answer to this question is that having a CMS will remove any need to go back to your developer every time you want to update the content of your site. If you want to significantly update the design of your site, you probably will still need to speak to a developer but a CMS will give you day-to-day control over your site by allowing you to: 

  • Add new pages and content to your site and manage where those pages appear within the site’s information architecture
  • Update page content and other information such as news articles, blog posts, events, images galleries, videos, hyperlinks, and calls-to-action.
  • Create content in advance and then publish it automatically to your site on a future date. 
  • Assign different roles and permissions to CMS users which allows you to control who can edit what content (for example: a contributor might be able to write content which will then be edited and published by an editor).
  • Manage content from multiple locations (provided you have a web browser and an internet connection).

To conclude...

There are a lot of potential benefits to using a content management system for your website, however a CMS is not always necessary. If your business only needs a simple brochure site with content that’s unlikely to change very often, there’s no reason why you can’t choose to have a hard-coded site and just pay a developer to help you update it as and when you need it. It's all about working out the volume of updating content you will need to do on-going and how much flexibility you require. 

On the other hand, if you need a website that will change regularly, or you need to involve more people in maintaining your site, there probably is a strong business case for using a CMS. 

If you do opt to use a CMS, I highly recommend you avoid using one of the many 'out-of-the-box' themes that often come with a content management system as these are usually too generic to offer a useful experience for your site visitors. It’s much better to use an experienced web designer and developer to do the initial work on your website to ensure it meets your customers needs and has all the functionality you require, thereby ensuring you get a much better business outcome from the site.

If you would like any more information on deciding whether you need a CMS, and if so which one is right for your business, then please get in touch - we are always happy to have a chat!  

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