We get a lot of questions about Content Management Systems: What is it? Why do I need it? Why is our so darn expensive? Why can't I just use one of the bazillion free CMSs out there?
Well I guess I'll just take it from the top, and throw in other questions and comments as I write this. Actually you will learn that I have a tendency to ramble and tangent myself all over the place, but I always come back to my main points. So here we go.
Through the years I've seen the same evolutionary patterns of website owners. I feel there are two types of new website owners as listed below.
Type 1: Those that have grand ideas of what their website can do for people.
Type 2: Those that have no clue, but know they need a websites.
The Type 1 website newbie will come to us with great notions of things flying around visually and crazy animation; and with ideas how they need to communicate with customers through some yet to be invented high tech idea. But they have no concept of the cost of any of this development.
The Type 2 website newbie will come to us with the simple knowledge that they need to "get online", and they assume the smallest website will cost them thousands of dollars.
Regardless of the web owner newbie type, we are always starting with an education in reality. The reality is that if you are just starting out with your first website, you should not be jumping in and spending a lot of money on the most expensive website imaginable.
Of course when I say "imaginable" I actually mean according to their imagination, not mine, because I can imagine quite a bit. Back when I created my first $250,000 website I was impressed. Now that I've done a few of them I'm not so impressed any more, but they are still fun.
As a newcomer to the web, you won't actually know the best uses of your website until you first get your feet wet. Of course I'm talking in extreme generalizations, but that because it's very rare for someone to come up with a new idea for a website and have the money for the development.
So you do need to set up a basic website to start. Basic should be a minimum of 7 pages, but it could be as many as you feel is needed to tell your customers about you and the products and services you offer. But you really should start small and get feedback from users regarding the best way to provide for their needs.
Usually when we first finish a website, the new owner feels exhausted from putting together the copy and all information, and they let the website sit for a while. The website then needs to be advertised. The easiest way is to include it on all printed material including invoices, receipts, post cards, billboards, TV advertising and radio ads. All other traditional advertising should include your web address and your email account.
After the first few months of newborn website birth, it's time to start updating the site on a regular basis. By this time the search engines have found your site, and you are getting feedback from customers and users. You might only be getting basic feedback, like how nice your website looks, or that someone found you through your website. But at least you know people are looking at it.
At some point you need to start telling everyone that your website exists, and that they should "check out your website for the latest news about your store". Of course if you are telling them to check out the site for the latest news, then you actually need to keep the site up to date. I suggest at least twice a month now.
If the website is programmed using static methods, then the web owner needs to contact their web programmer and request updates. I've heard many stories of how an owner requested work of their programmer and the updates never got completed, or took forever Well I have to admit the same has happen to me many time and it’s simply a matter of being overburdened at times.
It is time to grow to the next level of website ownership if the process of getting your website updated starts to interfere with your business. That means either taking over the HTML programming of your site, of having it converted into a content management system, CMS for short.
The CMS will allow you to edit all the information on your website without the need to know HTML. Typical website newbies are dealing with the day to day issues of running their business and don't have the time to learn HTML t edit their websites directly. Using a good CMS to enter changes to web copy is no more difficult than writing an email to their web programmer describing the changes that need to be made.
For the websites I've but together, typically the newbie doesn't initially have a content management system installed on their website. The reason is because we do all the setup work for our customers, so the labor associated with CMS setup is usually a startup expense that the newbie doesn't see the value in. I actually will agree with that point of view for the small websites, but if someone asks me to put together a new website with more than 25 pages, I will try to insist on it.
Once a good CMS is installed on a website, the site is only limited by the imagination of the owner, and the features of the CMS. We will customer build different features into our CMS so our users can get the most out of their website. Some free CMS software is also customizable, but you have to hire skilled programmers to do the work.
Some of the features you will find in a content management system include:
- Editing Information on a page without using HTML
- Uploading and managing images used throughout the site.
- Managing product inventory
- Managing customer relations records.
So it's more than just being able to edit your website, a CMS can really help to grow an online business and improve customer relations.
No matter where a website owner starts, eventually they will all have to migrate to a content management system of some type or another. Of course it would be great if they all migrated to the Psiclopedia™ CMS that Psi Prime create.
Matthew A Perosi