Last week, I was fortunate to lead an Online Marketing 101! workshop for a group in the construction industry. This was an interesting workshop because it combined a small group participants in a boardroom, with a larger group who were participating via a live streaming session.
One of the issues that attracted my attention early were the questions about website content management. This wasn’t on the agenda, but there were so many related questions that I added a few minutes to speak about it. And since the workshop was all about creating marketing content, it’s clear that the issue of (more easily) managing content is a growing concern.
This is especially true as the number of content formats is growing as well. As more sites are being asked to add video formats, content management for websites is growing more complicated for the small and medium sites owners and managers.
A little history first. In the beginning, websites were typically hand coded. Working with the client, a designer would wireframe the site to outline the functionality, and then begin the design process to add colours from a colour palatte, create or buy images, etc. Concurrently, a developer would use a tool to start the process of coding each page on the site to incorproate the designers graphical elements. The result was HTML and CSS that would control the look and feel of the website.
This worked well until it came time to make a large number of changes or add additional elements to the site. You’d call the developer, and he/she would say that it will take a while to make the changes or modify specific content. He/she was busy and you’d have to wait until they’ve finished their current project. And because the site was coded using the developers coding style, it was unique and difficult for another developer to learn and modify.
The technology industry is known for change, and content management is no exception. It started with companies with large sites seeking ways to easily add and manage their existing content, and so came the “content management system“. Wikipedia defines a content management system (“CMS”) as; “designed to simplify the publication of web content to web sites and mobile devices, in particular, allowing content creators to submit content without requiring technical knowledge of HTML or the uploading of files.”
More specifically, a content management system allows you to keep track of every piece of content on your Web site, much like your local public library keeps track of books and stores them. Content can be simple text, photos, music, video, documents, or just about anything you can think of. A major advantage of using a CMS is that it requires almost no technical skill or knowledge to manage.
And it’s the ability of content creators to submit and modify content without technical knowledge that makes the use of a CMS really interesting for small and medium sized business.
The key benefit of a CMS is that it provides a basic framework and common services that are used for all users or content. This includes templated code that provides universal page managment for the location of page elements (menus, header & footer), colour management, and search engine related meta-tag and page descriptions. Each page template haves hundreds of hours of coding by a developer.
Common services include
- a common user permission model used throughout the CMS,and
- a framework for adding third-party modules for hundreds of other services, such as
- shopping carts,
- advertising managment,
- newsletter management,
- internal mesaging systems,
- financial applications,
- specialized content delivery,
- social media,
- sports & games,
- and a very wide variety of vertical industry applications.
The result is that a new website can be created much more quickly and inexpensively, and the existing website can be managed more effectively by multiple people with varying levels of technical knowledge.
Using content management systems, we have developed websites that provide the typical brochure style content, and underlying complex business applications available only to users with the correct permissions. These websites offer far better cost of ownership to the business owner, and, in some cases, generate additional revenue for the business.
If you’re consideing a new website, or want ways to better manage content on your existing website, take a good look at using a content management system. It will save you money and provide an excellent platform to build on.