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What is a Content Management System (and why you need one)?

Organizations that maintain an online presence are well-advised to update their web content on a regular basis. There are good reasons for this practice. For one thing, having a website with old content makes your business look old, or maybe no longer in operation. Adding fresh content helps with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as the addition of new material triggers Google to re-index your site and possibly push it up in the rankings. And, having new articles or rich media on the site offers expanded ways to engage with potential customers.

So far, so good. Who is going to take care of all this content publishing, however? This is where the concept of the Content Management Systems (CMS) comes in. A CMS is an online platform that enables you to publish content, and generally modify your online presence, without requiring you to write software code.

Life pre-CMS was not so easy for web masters. It used to take specialized know-how to publish new web pages. If you wanted to update your site, you, or someone you paid, had to know how to write HTML code and JavaScript. You had to deal with CSS programming and in many cases, database software like Microsoft SQL Server. It was not for amateurs, that was for sure.

Over time, a host of CMS options have appeared on the market. Many are available free of charge, though these usually have premium editions that many people elect to use. The most popular CMS’s include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and Magento.

Benefits of using a CMS

Using the right CMS will invariably save you time and resources. The tools make managing a website relatively easy and intuitive. It might even be enjoyable. You can use the CMS to make your site look the way you want it, with style sheets and graphical preferences.

Cost savings is another benefit. The use of CMS’s is so prevalent, this advantage may not even be evident anymore. Today, it’s common for someone in a business, perhaps a marketing staffer, to manage the company website. It’s just part of his or her job. No special skills are required.

CMS users like the solution’s scheduling capabilities. Most sophisticated online companies establish a content calendar. New material, such as blog posts and infographics, will be scheduled to appear on a regular basis, perhaps once a week. To avoid last-minute rushes, a good CMS will provide advance scheduling of content publication.

The CMS may also include workflow management, where people in the company can review and edit a piece of content before it goes live. Then, as content appears on the site, a CMS will usually generate reports on how well the content is doing—how much it’s being read, for how long, and so forth.

Choosing a CMS

There are enough CMS choices available that you will definitely find one that’s right for you. In making the selection, you can usually spot tradeoffs in terms of ease-of-use, skillsets required and cost. Some CMS solutions require almost no setup and can be used by virtually anyone. Others need some setup and skill to administer. At the very least, someone may have to do the initial install so that unskilled users can then do their work on it.

One takeaway is that there is really no such thing as a free CMS. Some are available as open source software downloads, which are theoretically free. However, unless you’re an expert at installing and maintaining open source code, you’ll be paying someone to run your CMS.

We can help you sort through the various CMS options to find the one that’s right for your business. To discuss CMS, and any other aspect of web marketing, contact us for a free consultation.

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