Whether you are building your first website or you’ve hired a web design company to handle the build for you, it is always advised that you use a content management system to make managing your website more efficient. There are multiple strong content management systems currently available, so whether you choose WordPress web design or another format, you will have complete control over the content within your website. To start though, we should give you a better definition of what a content management system is and if you truly need it.
What Is A Content Management System
At it’s core, a content management system is a web application, or piece of software that was built to run on the web. Typically, this software is installed on your own personal web server and run directly from within your domain, but there are content management systems that are hosted by the companies that own the content management system. The main difference here is that the ‘self hosted’ systems will typically be open source and free, while the ‘hosted’ content management systems will have a subscription or use fee attached. Regardless of whichever type of content management system you are using, they should perform the same general functions, including but not limited to creating and editing pages, managing navigation, creating and editing blog posts, managing a stores products and shopping cart, and anything else that could be directly related to your website’s content.
If you hire a web design team to build your website, they will likely have a preferred content management system, or CMS, but you should also check with them to make sure that it will be cost effective as well as whether it will meet all of your needs for publishing and managing content on a regular basis. One of the most popular content management systems available for both informational and e-commerce websites is WordPress, which offers a self hosted as well as hosted solution. It’s always suggested that you use the self hosted WordPress option as it will allow for the most customization and scalability, but if this is your first time designing a website on your own, it may be better to start with the hosted WordPress option.
It’s also important to consider who will be using the content management system that controls your website. If you will have multiple people in your organization updating the site, ensure the CMS offers user segmentation and access roles. This allows you to set permissions for various users, limiting their access to certain parts of the site. You retain more control over what is being published, when and where on the site. This also allows you to restrict your employees from any areas of the site where they could potentially break your website or cause site-wide problems.
However, if you are considering running an e-commerce store, there are several more factors that you should consider as how well your website functions will determine how profitable your business is. Think about just how many products you would like to list on your store, how often you will be updating your product offering, if you will need any sort of special or custom tools or features for your website, and most importantly how easy it will be for you and your team to use. When it comes to e-commerce, Magento is currently one of the more powerful e-commerce platforms, especially for larger stores, but is also considerably more difficult to use. An e-commerce platform like Shopify can easily be managed by even the most novice website owner and offers a great support team, however it does lack some of the more powerful features and customization opportunities that Magento offers.
Another great benefit to using a content management system is that they will typically offer a library of plug-ins or extensions. A plug-in is a piece of software that was created to ‘extend’ the content management system’s native functionality. For instance, let’s say you wanted to include contact forms inside different pages of your WordPress website. Instead of spending hours to create the forms and embed them in your website files, modify your database to store the form data, and create the code to submit the data to the database, you can spend a couple of minutes installing and configuring a plugin that will do the very same thing. Other examples of plugins can include tools to help improve your SEO, track your visitor data and information, and even capture new leads based on your visitors. The real goal is to find a CMS that offers the plug-ins you need and ones you might wish to make use of in the future.
Webmasters find numerous benefits to making use of a content management system. The overwhelming advantage, however, lies in being able to publish new content regularly, as this is what has visitors returning to the site again and again. If your current web design firm doesn’t offer this option, it’s time to look elsewhere. You will find your company benefits immensely when you choose to make use of a content management system for your sites.