Not a developer? Not a Problem. Try a Content Management System
When your specialty is content development and program implementation, it makes sense that you might want to throw your hat in the ring and offer online meeting management solutions or speaker portals as an additional service to your clients. But agencies that specialize in content can sometimes feel restricted by the limited extent of their programming expertise. After all, it can be costly and time consuming to call your developer every time you need to update your website. Especially when information is updating daily — or hourly as it does in event management.
A content management system can help you overcome the challenges that are keeping you from expanding your service offerings. If programming is not your core competency, but content is, you may want to consider adding a content management system to your next website.
What is a Content Management System?
A content management system is a program that allows users to access the back end of their website to enter, edit, and modify their own content. They can then publish the content directly to the front end of the live site with the click of a mouse. And it’s all done from one central interface without using any code. Depending on the complexity of the content management system that’s developed, there may even be a variety of design templates to choose from, giving full control over the design and layout of the site, as well as the content. One could technically control every aspect of their website without ever even picking up the phone to call their developer…technically speaking.
The benefits of a content management system are freedom and control. Without the need for external developers or programmers, content can be updated and published anytime. Design templates allow for a consistent “look and feel”, while providing choice and flexibility. And controlled access allows you to determine who enters the content and who has the security permission to publish it.
There are 3 main types of content management systems:
Open-Source CMS. A global program that’s available to the public, free of charge. Open-source content management systems work best for blogs and news sites where the content is straightforward with minimal functionality. The most widely recognized examples are WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
Need more functionality? A plug-in (also called an extension or add-on) is a software component that adds functionality to an open-source content management system. A video player or audio plug-in adds media functionality. An SEO plug-in analyzes your content and provides suggestions for optimization. But be careful. Too many plug-ins create a messy site that can become difficult to maintain. If you find yourself needing more than 10 plug-ins, you might do better with a custom content management system.
Commercial CMS. Similar to open-source CMS, Commercial systems offer a set of functionality options. But they are not free. The system is developed by a company who charges a licensing fee for programming and support. The licensing fee usually includes web hosting, web design, and technical support. These fees can be expensive. Unlike a custom system, you may have to take some features that you don’t want and sacrifice some that you do.
Custom CMS. With a custom content management system, you have the freedom to build exactly what you need for your project or event. This is an excellent solution for websites where information is constantly evolving. Event management websites or speaker portals are great examples. In these instances, the efficiency of having the content creator or meeting administrator update the information on their own without the added step of communicating with a developer allows for edits to be made faster, with less manpower, less rounds of revision and less margin for error.
Offering the same web concept to multiple clients? Not a problem. A web professional can provide you with unlimited custom design templates that can be swapped out by the administrator with the click of the button. So you can create different websites using the same CMS. You have complete control over content and design. But the agency that provided you the system is still familiar with your site and can quickly implement troubleshooting or maintenance updates. It’s like flying with a safety net.
Our blog entry on Event Registration Websites has some great tips on making the “build or buy” decision. Click here to read more.
What Does Good Content Management Look Like?
A good CMS will provide you security features, back end search, intuitive functionality, and easy maintenance. The whole point of CMS is to give you control of your website so content can be managed easier and more efficiently.
If the security is compromised, then you lose that control. Make sure any vendor that you use makes security their first priority. You should always have user rights built into the workflow. You may have someone who enters your content but who shouldn’t have authorization to make that content public until a decision-maker approves.
CMS is built to make your life easier, so the functionality should be familiar and intuitive. Back end search and auto-save are other features that should be available within the system to save you time.
Content management systems are a great solution for customized websites, like event registration or e-commerce websites, slide libraries, KOL or speaker portals. They’ll save you time and money. To get the most out of a content management system, you should pursue professional programming support– either for troubleshooting or custom formatting– to get the results that meet your needs. Otherwise, you are bound by the limitations and design of an ‘off the shelf’ program.
Creative MediaWorks has over a decade of experience bringing creative multimedia solutions to our healthcare and medical communication clients. Ask us about your next website to see if a content management system would make sense for you. Call Creative MediaWorks to speak with our Multimedia Manager or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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