WHAT IS A CMS?A Content Management System (CMS) is a computer systemthat allows publishing, editing, and modifying content as wellas site maintenance from a central page. It provides acollection of procedures used to manage workflow in acollaborative environment. Wikipedia
WHY USE A CMS?Does your company update its website content frequently?Does your website contain over 10 pages?Do you constantly outsource simple website updates to thirdparties?
CMS ALTERNATIVESIf you do not create your website using a ContentManagement system, any page edits will have to be madedirectly to the code. Though non-CMS sites are usually lessexpensive to develop initially, they are much more expensivein the long run. And don’t think that means that you will begetting more work if you designed the original site,companies will often outsource their edits to a third party.
CMS BENEFITS Client is in control of content Easy updates No page limit Security Collaboration (multiple authors) Easy to redesign Better SEO results Easy to back up content Less expensive in the long run
KEY DIFFERENTIATORS Consider the functionality of the following components as you choose which CMS to implement. Text Editor (WYSIWYG vs simple) Managing media files Searchability Layout Customization User Interaction (comments, customer service, members) Roles & Permissions Multisite support Security
TYPES OF CMSThough larger companies often have the budget for a customdeveloped CMS, it is more common for a site to run off of oneof the popular systems that are available to download andinstall. The two most popular types of CMS are blog basedand e-commerce, and the type that you choose depends onthe emphasis of your site: content or retail. If you have a sitethat requires a full shopping experience AND flexible content,your best solution may be a hybrid of two systems.
BLOG BASED CMSMany of the popular CMS platforms started out as bloggingtools. In fact, many of these systems still refer to new contentas “posts”, and these posts are then displayed on relatedpages. Creative developers saw the potential in these layoutbased designs and realized that the same systems can supportany kind of content. Now some of the most popular websiteson the web are powered by a CMS like WordPress or Drupal.
WORDPRESSArguably the most popular CMS, WordPress started out as ablogging platform. The software is easy to use and install, andtemplates now exist for every type of site imaginable, or youcan code your own. WordPress runs off PHP templates thatformat posts and pages based on CSS styling.Advantages: Free (themes cost $), Easy interface, Manywidgets and plug-ins, large user community, SEO friendlyNotable Users: NY Times Blog, CNN Blog, Lolcats, Mashable
DRUPALDrupal is an open source CMS that is being constantlyupdated and improved upon. Though there is more of alearning curve, Drupal can be the perfect solution for aproject requiring more power than WordPress.Advantages: Free, Open Source, Fully Customizable,Advanced Admin Controls, Many Plugins, SEO FriendlyNotable Users: The White House, The Economist, The Onion
JOOMLAThough less popular than WordPress or Drupal, Joomlamight be the most user friendly. This inviting interface makesit easy to customize your site or add new content.Advantages: Free (some plugins cost $), Open Source,Customizable, Robust Database, Many Plugins, SEO FriendlyNotable Users: Guggenheim, Linux, The Hill
OTHER BLOG BASED CMSModXTextPatternRefineryCMSConcrete5DotNetNukeTinyCMS
E-COMMERCE CMSThough most blog based CMS platforms allow for e-commerceplugins, if the main goal of your site is to sell products youshould consider an e-commerce specific CMS. These systemscan help the client easily manage their inventory and tracksales, and you can customize the framework using templates.
MAGENTOMagento is probably the most popular E-Commerce CMS, butlike Drupal, it sacrifices usability for functionality. If you cannavigate your way through the somewhat clumsy interface,Magento provides many robust tools for your online store.Advantages: Free (some plugins cost $), Open Source,Plugins, Flexibility, Scalability, SEO FriendlyNotable Users: Samsung, Olympus, Goodyear
OPENCARTOpenCart is a user friendly alternative to Magento. Based ona powerful open source community, OpenCart is the perfectsolution for small to medium sized businesses.Advantages: Free (some plugins cost $), Open Source,Plugins, Easy to Customize, SEO Friendly
PRESTASHOPAnother user friendly alternative to Magento is Prestashop.This platform includes many impressive Web 2.0 features,but is still fast and easy to install. Like other CMS platforms,you can customize your theme to get the exact look you want.Advantages: Free (some plugins cost $), Open Source,Plugins, Fast, Clean Code
OTHER E-COMMERCE CMSZenCartShopifyBusiness Catalyst
SEO & CMSIn the early days of the internet designers had to manuallycode SEO information into each page, and forget aboutgenerating site maps. Using a CMS to manage your contentmakes it much easier to input SEO titles and descriptions,and most CMS platforms offer easy to install SEO plug-ins.The only downside is that CMS allows clients to post newcontent, and many of these users will not be familiar withSEO guidelines.
DEVELOPER TOOLSWhen you’re developing a website, it’s helpful to be able toinspect your code directly in a browser. This is even morehelpful for debugging once a website has been launched. Youcan also learn some new tricks by inspecting the code of a sitethat you like.Here are some browser plugins that let you inspect code.
FIREBUGFirebug is the most popular web development tool, and manyweb designers prefer Firefox simply because it features thisplugin. Firebug is very powerful, and driven by a huge opensource community, so it contains a few features that theaverage web designer will never use. Regardless, it is a solidtool with a stripped down interface that has set the precedentfor all other development tools.How to install: Download from getfirebug.com
FIREFOXFirefox recently came out with its own development toolbased on Firebug. Though this preinstalled plugin has lessadvanced features, it makes up for it with a superiorinterface. It even features a 3D mode that really helps youvisualize a page’s code.How to install: comes with the latest version of Firefox
CHROMEAnother powerful set of developer tools are those included inGoogle Chrome. This preinstalled plugin closely mimics thefunctionality of Firebug, making it a great alternative forChrome users.How to install: comes with the latest version of Chrome
SAFARISafari’s preinstalled set of developer tools is virtuallyidentical to Chrome’s. A good workflow for cross browsertesting would be to use Firebug, Chrome, and Safari, as thereis no learning curve between each of these developer tools.How to install: comes with the latest version of Safari, toactivate check “Show Develop Menu” in Advanced Preferences
IE9The latest version of Internet Explorer also includesMicrosoft’s own set of developer tools modeled after Firebug.Though most developers stick to Firefox or Chrome, this is agreat feature for cross browser testing.How to install: comes with the latest version of IE