CMS stands for Content Management System.
The good CMS’s now are so good, that in my view no-one should be doing a static html site any more. A CMS is a web based system where the content is stored in a database and the templates, styles or themes are maintained separately from the content. This way a website can be maintained by several people independently where ever they are. This flexibility offers so much in terms of speed and ease of maintenance, and thus reduced costs.
Multiple Editors Anywhere
Authors, editors and the web designer could all maintain different aspects without interfering with each other. A non web literate business owner can edit any simple text she felt needed changing, a more office literate person could create new text and reorder pages etc, and the web designer could be changing the look or adding functionality at the same time. This is infinitely better than a PC or mac based approach using Freeway or Dreamweaver, where there is one place on one machine where the entire web is to be maintained. It is much cheaper and faster.
“Sophisticated” content and html knowledge
That said, more “sophisticated” content may require some knowledge of html, or a source tool where the resulting html can be pasted into the content window. Tables are an example of this. It is difficult for a web based CMS to enable table creation with clean HTML. However basic HTML is relatively easy to learn, it is not a programming language.
A good CMS?
- It is easy for non technical users to create or maintain content. Some CMS’s are too complicated.
- It produces accessible, W3C valid xhtml and css code. It delivers a more consistent look in different browsers, “future proof’s your web. Search engines like it too.
- It is fast, or can be made fast. EG: has cacheing ability – since the content is dynamic
- It has the ability to easily add functions features expected in webs these days – eg: RSS feeds, subscribe to email features, ability to have a conversation going eg: comments on articles, categorisdaton and tagging of posts by keywords.
- It is safe and secure – ie: has features to prevent unwanted people hacking into your site.
- It is cost-effective. There are a few good free open source CMS’s out there. The cost is in the installing, tailoring a theme and putting up initial content.
- There is support available.
WordPress is a good CMS
In January 2008, it won .net’s award for best web application of the year. (scroll to the bottom of th elinked page)
It is a free open-source cms. It is one of the most popular CMS’s and there is a wide base of support for it. Other popular options are Joomla and Drupal, however wordpress is the preferred open source cms.
In WordPress one can define user roles, authors, editors, administrators and more. The screens they see are appropriate for the roles.
Adding a page or post is very easy in wordpress.
- Click on “add new”,
- type a title and some text,
- Assign a parent page for pages, and a category or tag for posts,
- Preview, save.
Accessibility and Standards
WordPress produces accessible, W3C valid xhtml and css code. Not all CMS’s do – some produce table based layouts – avoid these.
I’ve never found a speed problem with wordpress – this tends to be more a factor for heavy content (eg: large images), whatever the web. For larger web’s, one can index the database and/or add cache features to speed it up further.
Features and functions
The latest version of wordpress has many features and functions built-in. In addition there are many recognised “must-have” plug-ins, as well as many additional other’s which should of course be tested carefully on a test system before. You can
- build a community around your website, using multiple authors, just allowing comments, or integrate a forum (take this step carefully!)
- develop a permission asset, with a “subscribe to me” confirmation tool – look after them – do not disappoint!
- automatically list the next x upcoming events, offering one-click, add event to their calendar(okay maybe 2)
- and many more…
Safety and Security
The latest version is very safe and secure (It is a target due to to it’s popularity) – add askimet (very very effective against comment spam), and other plugins like “Login lockdown” to improve security even further. The weak link is usually your username and password – always change the admin username. Many webs (even non wordpress get hacked by a brute force attack on the login panel).
WordPress itself is free and so are many themes. However unless you are very web literate, you will need a web designer to set you up, deal with any conversion issues, and customise the look for you if necessary.
There are a lot of tools available on the web for wordpress, from support for web designers to videos for the less literate. Even better, if you get into trouble, your web support person can login to the CMS and fix or advise when they see what is happening. No special siftware required other than a browser.
If you’d like to investigate this further, please contact me.