Do I need a Content Management System (CMS)?

The short answer is YES.

A Content Management System or CMS is a piece of software running on a hosting account on a web server that allows the administrator of a site to log in to and edit the site through a web browser interface, without having to delve into the mystifying depths of HTML and CSS code trying to work out how to FTP the files over to the hosting account etc.

Generally a CMS is made up of standard HTML and CSS elements, a MySQL database (or other database technology), a Javascript word processor/text editor and some server side scripts (PHP, ASP, JSP etc.) to execute database operations such as saving and retrieving content and to allow upload and management of files on the server.

Most design companies will give a customer the choice of installing a third party CMS such as WordPress or their own bespoke CMS. However, design companies generally prefer to offer bespoke CMS to their customers because they can be tied into a specific design more easily, and the user interface can be made exceptionally foolproof. With third party CMS applications design can often be very restricted unless the company specialises specifically in that technology.

You should expect to pay a bit less for a WordPress or Joomla website as there is practically no coding involved in the set up of these sites, rather developers will find a suitable template on the web and will then customise it to suit a particular customers needs. If a company has to develop a theme from scratch, Joomla and WordPress sites can become even more expensive then their own bespoke CMS sometimes prohibitively so.

Regardless of the technology chosen, the major advantage of a CMS is that you will no longer need to call your web design company every time you need to make a small change to your website, with a CMS you can update the site whenever you have a bit of news, want to add a new link, need to upload a new picture, press release etc. etc. You just simply log in through to the CMS via a specific URL or Web Address and edit your website pages on the fly.

However, with this power there are also caveats. Often designers have a keen eye regarding making content on a site look professional. By transferring this power to administrators, the design of the site can often suffer over time from a design perspective as a result, so if you do go for a CMS try and keep the content true to the design of the site and avoid using your own colour schemes, font sizes etc.

Search Engine Optimisation is also generally supported by good CMS systems. They allow the user to modify the title of the page, the content of the page (encouraging the use of h1 tags) and they also allow the admin to add meta description information. Often with static web sites, design companies do not change the title and description on the various pages on the site which can lead to devastating penalties from Search Engines.

So, if you have an existing site without a CMS, don’t worry, all is not lost. If your site is standard HTML / CSS it should be relatively easy to add a CMS to.

UTD Web Design Ireland can add a lightweight, bespoke SEO optimised CMS to your existing site for as little as €400 depending on your specific requirements, so what are you waiting for, get in to the 21st century and manage your own website content today!

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