Take Control of Your Website with a Content Management System
Your website is an important part of your business, and it needs to be accurate and current. You may have outsourced it so that it looks its best and works reliably, and that’s the right move for many small to medium businesses (SMBs). It doesn’t mean, though, that you have to go through your developer or web management company for every little change you need. That will increase your costs while slowing down the update cycle.
Most websites today are based on content management systems. They’re designed to make changes easy. In the early days of the Web, people had to write their own HTML markup, and a little mistake could ruin a page. With a modern CMS, anyone with reasonable computer skills can make updates safely.
Suppose, for instance, that you’ve taken on a new marketing director. You’d like to update your site immediately so that your customers have the news and can contact the right person. You’ve already got a page with the leading figures in your company. It’s not hard to add a picture and a short biography for this new person. If you do it in-house, that’s a lot faster than sending the text and picture to the management company and asking them to do it.
You can assign an employee to learn the basic operation of the CMS and handle the simple changes. It shouldn’t take a large chunk out of time out of the employee’s other responsibilities.
Let’s look at two popular CMSs, WordPress and Drupal, and see how you’d do it.
The most popular CMS in the world is WordPress. Sites built with it consist of pages and posts. Posts are for blogs, pages for everything else. It lets logged-in users edit pages in place and upload pictures.
You’ll need to get a user account for the employee who will handle the updates. Your management company holds an administrator account, which lets them do anything. You can ask them to give your employee an editor account. An editor can make changes to content, but not manage users or change any fundamental aspects of the site. That reduces the chance of damaging the site by accident.
WordPress lets an editor change the contents of any page and upload media (pictures, audio, and video). The employee will be able to make straightforward changes quickly. Even adding new pages might be a possibility.
Drupal is another big name in the CMS world. Editing content in it is also fairly easy, though it’s a more complicated CMS than WordPress. It will take a little more effort to get familiar with it, but simple content editing is still straightforward. The basic unit of a Drupal site is a node. Nodes include things like pages, articles, and book pages. Editors can modify their contents online.
As with WordPress, users can have various roles, and again the editor role is the right one for someone charged with making content changes but not running the site. Editors can edit and apply markup to nodes online. Adding images to content is more complicated than in WordPress, but it’s not beyond the reach of anyone who’s comfortable around computers.
Both WordPress and Drupal allow a site to include a blog, you’ll want your site developer to set it up so that it looks good, but there’s no reason you can’t run a blog entirely from inside your business after that. Creating entries and posting them is easier and quicker when you can give the content to someone right in the office.
Opportunities and cautions
Reducing the amount of website work that you outsource can give you better turnaround on updates and save hundreds or thousands of dollars. If your site is built on a user-friendly CMS, it’s only necessary to get past the intimidation factor that comes with making changes directly to a website. Start with some hidden pages to make sure you’ve got the technique right, then you can work on publicly visible pages.
Choose your CMS well. Content Management Systems come in all shapes and sizes. Many high quality content management systems are made for SMBs while others are more for large enterprise. Some of them are so complicated that they require a trained developer to do anything with them at all. This defeats the whole point of content management, if you think about it; if it’s that hard to change anything, then you’re going to be stuck having a developer code the site directly.
With a good CMS, though, you can achieve a useful division of labor. Your developer will create the site, add features, and make it look good. Your management company will keep the site running and make complicated changes. You can keep the day-to-day changes in-house, where you’ve got close control and don’t need to wait for an outside company to do the work.