What is a CMS?
A CMS, or Content Management System, is a computer program that allows for the manipulation and maintenance of content from a central interface. This program is also commonly known as a Knowledge Management System (KMS).
The use of a CMS is best suited to manage workflow in a collaborative environment, in which content is regularly added, edited and transported by a multitude of authors. This is particularly relevant in e-commerce businesses, in which intellectual information both in internal documents and on the public domain is a key driver of the equity of the entity.
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Steps to set up a CMS
In broad terms, there are three distinct forms of a CMS. They range in terms of usability, adaptability and price.
- Bespoke CMS businesses offer an opportunity to design your management system from scratch, with your input. Whilst offering flexibility and specialization, these are the most costly options.
- Proprietary CMS’s are owned by a company, and altered to fit the needs of a client. Whilst offering security, a proprietary CMS is initially costly.
- An open source CMS is by far the most commonly used form of a CMS, as it is relatively inexpensive and easy to use. As such, we will discuss them in detail.
Once you have decided on implementing a CMS, setting it up is easy.
Popular CMS packages such as WordPress, Joomla and Modx are cost effective options that are designed with ease of use in mind.
- These services offer a range of options, so step one is to decide what your business needs. Do you already have a website? Are you looking to build one from scratch? Does your business want a simple blog, or a more structured glossary format? In any case, a CMS package will have a way of adapting to your needs.
- Step two is to find the right CMS package to fit your needs. This is often a subjective decision, so we don’t have any specific recommendations. However, we would suggest that a popular, stable CMS provider is the way to go, providing less risk and more help, safety and security.
- If you have an existing website, it will need to be integrated within a CMS format. There is a process to this, explained in detail in the help sections of whichever CMS website you decide to employ. For example: *http://docs.joomla.org/Converting_an_existing_website_to_a_Joomla!_website
Following this, there is not much else that needs to be done. Such is the ease of a CMS that following a brief tutorial; most employees will be able to begin updating and editing content online.
Benefits of CMS usage
- Collaboration: Allows for the collaborative efforts of your staff in creating, editing and approving content before it gets published.
- Usability: Designed with non-technical content authors in mind. People with average knowledge of word processing can create the content directly. No HTML knowledge needed.
- Decentralised maintenance: Content is now based on a common web browser. This allows for editing from anywhere with an Internet connection, rather than just in the office.
- Timeliness: Content can be searched, retrieved, and reused to create new products within minutes. Allows for your business to stay on top of trends, product launches and new findings.
- Safety: Content is stored and backed up online, reducing the risk of content loss if your system crashes.
- Security: Restricted content can be created so that only authorised users can access it.
- SEO: Most of the popular CMS software is also linked with SEO, creating more awareness of your company and more hits to your website.
- Activity: Sites that change and update their content on a regular basis give your business the appearance of being alive and more active. Search engines give higher emphasis on new and fresh content.
- Scheduling: The publication of content can be time-controlled. You can now write 10 articles in a day and have them published to your site one at a time in set intervals.
- Direct information: Your customer’s e-mail is most likely clogged with junk mail. Having a central source of information encourages the customer to visit your site and get their information directly.
- Opportunity for customer service: Integrating a customer response component into your CMS provides an opportunity to bypass e-mail systems. You can now serve your customer in a more timely fashion.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of a CMS is its effect on your business’s bottom line. It is often both cost and time effective to have a CMS in place as opposed to paying someone to update and edit your online content.
Drawbacks of CMS use
- Depreciation: There are no guarantees that the CMS purchased today will work in 5 or 10 years time without a developer spending time on upgrades to make it compatible to software changes.
- Design: Multiple access can lead to a disjointed look and feel of your website.
- Set up costs: Open source or not, building a user-friendly CMS costs more up-front.
- Simplicity: The framework of your CMS can limit design flexibility. Basic technical knowledge of design and HTML is a definite help if not a requirement. To be user friendly, a CMS often has limitations for editing, file types, graphics, etc.
- Security: Access by multiple users can pose a security risk and mistakes go “live” immediately.
- Time consumption: Managing a CMS takes more time than expected and often gets neglected.