One of the first topics of discussion I have with every client is related to the set up of their new site regarding content management. Do you require a content management system (CMS) for your site?

What is CMS? well, Simply put, a CMS system helps the user to manage all the content on their site; images, text, videos etc, in the most efficient manner possible. Basically it allows you to update your website without having to learn any coding skills. There are many great CMS platforms on the market, Joomla, WordPress and Drupal to name a few, but just because you can have a CMS website, does that mean you should?

When you should use a CMS:

It’s all going to come down to a few key issues. The level of content created and the frequency of updates required is very important. Ask yourself, does your site require regular content updates and changes? if the answer is yes to this, and hopefully it is because the best way to promote your site is producing great content, then a CMS website is going to allow you to easily add content to your site in an efficient and most likely, cost effective manner.

Before the dawn of the easy to use CMS systems; as a client, you had to either rely on your web designer to implement your updates, or learn to code yourself. Many people passed updates onto their designers and in theory their is nothing wrong with this. Your designer can manage your site for you and implement updates, but if you frequently add content then this can get pricey and lets face it, just because you write an awesome blog entry at 3am, your designer probably doesn’t want to get out of bed to post it for you immediately.

A CMS system gives you control over your content, it allows you the freedom to manage your site independently of a designer if you add lots of content, and is certainty the most cost effective way to run a website. CMS systems also have some great add ons.

From SEO to social media, CMS systems can seamlessly integrate with all of the tools you need when running a business online. You can post updates to social media automatically and the system can generate keywords for you based on the content. These systems are by no means fool proof but can give you a great spring-board to move in the right direction with your site.

When you don’t need a CMS:

I still create a lot of hand coded, non CMS sites for my clients and whilst this may seem odd, as this is not providing my clients with the means to manage their own sites, there are very good reasons for this. Again we come to the level of content creation. we established that if you need to add lots or content to your website on a regular basis then a CMS is the right way to go, but what about if you very rarely add content or in some cases, never at all?

Creating a website design from scratch around a CMS platform involves more work than hand coding. This is down to the level or programming required. If I create a bespoke hand coded site for you it will certainly be built in HTML and CSS, with maybe a bit of Java Script thrown in for good measure. If you want your bespoke design to work with a CMS system I have do use the above mentioned code, and then some, normally PHP and MySQL.

It usually takes longer to design a site around a CMS and therefor the initial cost of your site will be higher. If your not planning on using a CMS system, then what would be the point in paying extra for one? If you update your site once or twice a year then you don’t need a CMS, its a waste of money and any hourly update charge from your designer will be lower than the cost of CMS integration and design. The other reason you may not want an off the shelf CMS system is complexity. Simply put there are a lot of limitations bound up in CMS systems. Your business may require something that is not available on the current market and requires a bespoke design and development solution.

Well, which one is it?

Well I think you know what comes next, that it entirely depends on your circumstances and requirements for which route you choose. If you need to update your site constantly then a CMS is the better option. If you don’t need updates or require something very specific then hand coding is the way forward. Take some time to think about what you want to achieve with your website, write down your goals and plans for the next few years and try and factor in the cost of the CMS and the advantages it will bring, this is the best way to choose which way to go….

or just ask the Yak, we’ll let you know which way to go.

Yak, Out!