“Why do I need a Content Management System?” is a question I’m often asked by clients. Before I answer, let’s first define what a Content Management System is.
A Content Management System (CMS) is a web application that offers greater functionality than a normal flat file, or a traditional website. They often use dynamic programming languages such as PHP along with your content that is stored within a database. Some CMS allow multiple users to manage content and workflow, e-commerce transactions, image manipulation, without having to know the technical aspects of building a website.
So Why do you need a CMS?
Traditionally, you would have to send your changes to a web developer to implement for you because you don’t know html code, how to use ftp, or how to resize images to fit the content properly. Often times that can take a few days or weeks to have your site updated. With a CMS you can update your content without knowing code, or how to use ftp, or how to resize images properly- all at your leisure. Surely this is why systems like Wix and Squarespace are so appealing to people and you see more and more of the traditional flat file websites disappearing. People understand updates to a website can make or break their business and why wait on a slow developer.
Another reason you should have a CMS is that you can often assign multiple users to edit and manage content without giving them access to tools that could otherwise destroy your site. The assurance of group and user roles with security means that you can also setup workflow so that you can approve or edit their content before it ‘goes live.’
Design consistency is another reason to use a CMS. Your brand needs to be consistently displayed without changing the styles, fonts, colors from page to page. Most designers and developers ‘lock down’ critical styles so that the website is display consistently across devices as its supposed to- this builds your brand trust and recognition as opposed to creating confusion for your users.
Human error affects cost and efficiency with a flat file system which can often be a hurdle to a business as it takes longer to manage the code, insure the cross-browser compatibility is maintained and text is properly encoded and formatted. With a CMS most of this is as easy to maintain as typing into a word processor such as ‘MS Word’ - complete with all the tools you expect such as grammar and spell check.
Perhaps one of the most often over looked reasons for a CMS is that there is usually a community of people and support for those systems. They can offer free or paid support and often provide free tutorials in how to improve your website using the CMS that you’ve chosen. This typically won’t happen for you if you’re using the traditional flat file html pages.
Developers typically do not like to take over traditional systems as those are custom, proprietary coded pages and often take a bit of time just to get acquainted with the system. With a CMS some are often open-source or commercial which means that they are well documented already, that upgrade paths aren’t broken during the development cycle which insures that you can always find someone to take over your site should the need arise.
Security is another major reason. Aside from the aforementioned user and groups permissions. A flat file system written in a version of a programming language may have security holes if not patched and kept up to date. Security, especially when dealing with an e-commerce website or site that collects personal information from users, is a vital part of website design. It could lead to severe legal issues should your data be breached or compromised by a hacker. With open source and commercial CMS, these holes are typically found ahead of time and or patched quickly when found by the team of developers without cost. This could be a problem when you’ve hired a developer who wrote his own code and doesn’t keep up with all the security bulletins.
I hope this article has given you several reasons from consistency to security that you need a CMS for your website and that there is a lot to consider when putting your business on the Internet. We're here to help you, as part of the Expression Engine Pro Network, I specialize primarily in Expression Engine CMS implementations and offer additional services in Wordpress CMS, Web Design, Digital Marketing, Branding, Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization.