Friday, February 15, 2013

To CMS or Not To CMS? That is the Question.

In the world of web development, many acronyms are thrown about like a volleyball game: HTML, CSS, ASP, PHP, API, SQL, AS3, CMS, OS, iOS, C+, and so many more. It can be daunting, to say the least, to enter this letter-littered world. That's why I'd like to implement a journalistic acronym, KISS (Keep It Simple, Simon), with regards to one particular acronym getting a lot of buzz that can greatly impact and ease how you build your website...CMS, Content Management System.

CMS is a means to an end, a web tool, but it's only one option in a sea of options. Creative websites can be built using any of the popular CMS platforms (namely WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal) or not. It all depends on your needs and the scope of work. Each website is developed with different goals, purposes, and objectives, therefore not all websites are created equal, ergo not all websites should be built the same way.

So what is CMS? According to Wikipedia, “A content management system (CMS) is a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment.”

Basically, the function of content management systems is to have an interface that acts as a portal to your website's database or file system to edit the content on your website easily. CMS features vary widely from system to system, and most include management, revision control, indexing, search, and retrieval. You can think of it as your own digital index or warehouse of the products and or services you provide in the storefront...your website. It gives access and control to the database and file system that houses the text and embedded graphics, photos, video, audio, and other interactive code that controls your site.

When should you use a CMS? In a nutshell, it comes down to the frequency of updates and the degree of technical know-how required to update content on your site. If you need to update your site frequently and want to hire an in-house administrator who may be limited with regards to website programming skills, then a CMS is ideal for you. If your site is high design and is a technically complicated build, then a CMS may not be the best solution for you. Take a look at the chart below displaying the benefit of implementing a CMS or not.


Code Control: Some, though not all, web programming code is generated by the CMS as the website is built, which can increase the server requirements to process the code. However, most CMSs will allow you to build a customized design and to optimize the code for quick processing.
Bells and Whistles: The availability of many features enables a CMS to accomplish most tasks, such as videos, slide shows, engaging menus, image galleries, PDF uploads/downloads search capability, etc., when it comes to web design.

Blogs, Forums, and Registration Requirements: If a blog or forum is needed, or if guests need to log-in for whatever purpose, CMS is the answer.

Frequent Updates and Multi-Users: If your website needs to be updated regularly and/or is run by a group of users with various levels of permissions, you should opt for a CMS. They offer an administration panel that allows the non-technical person to tweak, modify and run a website effectively and efficiently. CMSs also offer excellent editorial control over the content, and better user management that keeps the integrity of the web design.

Security: Most CMSs release new updates/fixes/ patches on a regular basis. Reason: a CMS invites more hackers than a hard-coded (custom) website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Many CMSs provide built-in SEO encoding.

ADA Compliance: Most CMS sites are built within ADA compliance guidelines.

Maintenance Time: Actual content can be updated easily and quickly in real time. However, updates of features are frequent (mostly for security purposes) and can be somewhat involved post development.


Customization and Code Control: Most CMSs allow some level of customization. But when you want something more unique on a specific page, like a real-time stock ticker, a weather display, or a calendar, special coding is required. Building a site outside of a CMS gives complete control over the code without built-in interference, duplication and overlap. While writing extensive code without using a CMS system requires proficient technical savvy, it also allows access to every detail. Additionally, because you are no longer restricted by platform-specific limitations, you can design and craft individual components of the website manually. Your website can have more personality and creativity because you're not bound by a CMS.

Static Pages: If you won't need to change the content on your website very often, it would probably be overkill to integrate a CMS into the workflow.

Security: Customized coding can make a site less susceptible to hackers.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Customized SEO code will need to be incorporated by a skilled web developer.

ADA Compliance: A web developer must be knowledgeable about ADA compliance.

Maintenance Time: While custom-coding your website can be more time-consuming initially, it can also reduce the time and effort required in maintenance of the website because a professional web technician/developer will manage this for you. Additionally, there are no CMSs and their features to update or uninstall, which is a regular occurrence.

Your most important goal? A compelling user-experience. In this information-rich, time-poor world we live in, it only makes sense to build websites that employ foundational elements to ensure success and the most-cutting edge features to break through the clutter and get your story out there. In building your website, regardless of whether it's a CMS-based site or not, programming languages and site features should always be implemented to execute creativity, appeal, and interactivity.

No comments :

Post a Comment