Why a Content Management System Makes Sense

Aug 19th, 2009 | By | Category: Recommendations

If you’re in the market for a website, and you haven’t heard about blog engines and Content Management Systems (CMS), you haven’t been in the market for long. The main issue people have with websites in general, at least in my experience, is maintaining them. Folks feel intimidated by learning “HTML” or “programming” (which incidentally is never an issue, because what users do is NOT programming).

These days, there are hundreds of solutions to that problem, but in the interest of time I’m only going to talk about my favorites. What are those favorites, you ask? WordPress, for one…

wordpressWordPress started out as a blog engine some years ago, and was based on a wonderful development model called MVC (Model / View / Controller), which is WAY out of the scope of this article, but still awesome. The idea was simple. Make it so that non-coders could run a decent blog without doing a ton of work keeping things uniform. It has evolved onto a full fledged content management system with e-commerce capability and so many free plugins you’d be hard pressed to find that what you need doesn’t already exist.

So how does that translate to helping the aspiring website owner? Well, these days, WordPress has gotten so easy to use, it’s on par with figuring out how to send an e-mail. If you can do that, you can use WordPress effectively.

It can update itself, it can let you know when it needs something and it can take the guesswork out of keeping things uniform. So what’s the catch? Well, quite frankly, there isn’t one. It can be got for the low bargain price of $0.00 and comes as an option on every Linux hosting plan under the sun (more on that in a future article). There are so many free themes (essentially templates) available for free that the enterprising individual can get himself up and running with a cool look in minutes. Setting it up is so easy I taught a 60 year old client to do it in about two minutes (almost said “a cave man can do it”). Did I mention it’s free? It is…

workgroups_developmentThe next great CMS that I recommend is Joomla (or Mambo, because from where I sit, there is little difference). It has come a long way from the old days, and can do some amazing things out of the box. It is not as easy to learn or manage as WordPress, but it’s still pretty easy. I recommend Joomla or Mambo to clients who have complex requirements and want to grow beyond just a commerce or marketing site, or that have a team of people who will be managing the site. Like WordPress, it tells you when it needs updating, and won’t let you do the wrong thing when editing files.

Joomla is also completely free, though more of the premium plugins that you may want you’ll have to pay for. There are hundreds of them, and for most of the things you want to do there is a plugin readily available.

As time progresses, I fully intend to write a few articles on how to do the simple things in both Joomla and WordPress, but you’ll find hundreds of tutorials all over the Internet on most of them. I simply want to put a new spin on those articles and help new users avoid some common mistakes. Experience goes a long way, and while I could do it for you (for a fee) I hate busy work.

Stay tuned.

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