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Content Management Systems

Time/Cost Savings or Customization Nightmare?

by D1J1T — in Management — Updated: Feb 14, 2014 at 9:32 am

Choosing the best software to use for your initial website can be a daunting task, even for developers. We know that once a site is established, it can be difficult to go other routes or customize certain aspects. This is the main reason why I'd recommend taking the time to thoroughly evaluate your opinions before choosing.

For this small site, I decided to not use a Content Management System for several reasons. I am a web developer and simply prefer programming to making updates via an admin interface. I like maintaining the flexibility and options and being able to update/customize iteratively. I wanted the site to be responsive, to look and function properly on mobile devices. I also however, didn't want to totally "re-invent the wheel." I chose an initial design template from HTML5 UP. This is an example of a code template, not a CMS. I programmed the back-end using PHP & MySQL and made several tweaks to the template. If you can program, you're probably already aware of the numerous free templates available to download and edit at will. Why spend hours creating functions to animate objects when JavaScript can already access those objects, and they can be manipulated using basic functions already included in libraries like jQuery or TweenMax? Don't! Simply include, then customize!

If you have little programming skill on the other hand, a Content Management System may be a better choice (if you plan on updating the site yourself). Don't think that these don't require any work. They still do. They can also be tricky to customize, often plug-ins must be installed for specific functions and if you need a custom function, you may find yourself still hiring a programmer. Some still find the interfaces frustrating and end up having their developer manage it in the end anyway.

If you can get past these factors, Content Management Systems can be a huge time and money saver for your business. I have worked with 3 in particular: Wordpress, Drupal & Joomla. Others should be evaluated for your specific needs. In my opinion, if you don't have a large corporate business, stay away from Drupal. If you want the simplest to get up and running, go with Joomla. Wordpress is also very popular and has many themes and plugins available for a bit of customization. They all allow for updating via an administrative interface. Add pages, posts, insert images, video, display social networking stats and icons, change styles (you may have to do a touch of CSS for this), and much more.

If you have an existing site, don't make the mistake of thinking that the graphics, layout, and general look and feel of your existing site can simply be "plugged into" a CMS. It can't. CMS's use a theme. You will be forced to use one, can customize it a bit. If you are a programmer, can write custom functions of course. If this is your case, consider other free code templates that meet the functions you need or consider hiring a programmer proficient with a server-scripting language like PHP, and has database experience. They could create a custom admin interface for you to update your site.

If you find these articles to be helpful, I could always use another cup of coffee! Social media likes/+1s are also much appreciated. Thanks for reading!

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