Choosing a Content Management System For Your Website

Content Management Systems (CMS) have revolutionized the DIY web presence. With a robust CMS, making updates in-house is a breeze, saving money and allowing for a more nimble interface with customers. Global updates can be performed far more easily versus changes to individual pages throughout the site. Further, content management systems offer a plethora of interactive features such as blogs, calendars of events, e-commerce platforms and much more. Most of these “plug-ins” are thoroughly tested and updated regularly.

However, with their rise in popularity, there has been a commensurate increase in the number of CMS providers. Costs range from free to jaw-dropping, each with its own set of features and solutions.

How to choose the right CMS

For most small businesses, an open source CMS such as WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla may be sufficient for a wide range of applications. Each of these systems offers a seemingly endless pool of plug-ins created by professional and amateur developers alike – satisfying almost any need. By virtue of having such a large developer pool, these applications are usually updated regularly. While the popularity of open source systems make them a target for hackers, developers are usually able identify and patch vulnerabilities as they arise. Another great benefit to open source software is that the business owner is never beholden to a developer for licensing. With that being said, hiring an excellent developer from the start can be the difference between a website with clean code and a mess that requires reprogramming down the road.

Many software vendors sell heavy-duty CMSs on a subscription basis with wide variance in cost – usually depending on the software’s capabilities. Before considering this more expensive software option, be sure that the feature-set matches your needs. Any significant custom development will cost you. The major drawback here, of course, is that if you ever wish to end the subscription, you will have to transfer all of your data and files to another content management system. Further, if the developer goes out of business, you may find yourself looking for a new CMS sooner than expected.

Finally, there is the option of having a content management system built from the ground up and specifically for your purposes. Depending on the developer and the features needed, this may be the most expensive option of the three. It may also be the least secure as (usually) only the developer themselves can patch their software. Another consideration arises if you ever wish to terminate your relationship with that developer. Depending on who owns the rights to the CMS, you may or may not be able to have another developer work on it – at least not on the source code.

Ultimately, it is important to thoroughly evaluate the many CMS options available to you. Price does not necessarily equate to quality and no two businesses have the same needs. Once you have a handle on CMS options, interview developers and make your decision. Spending the time to find the right CMS and the best developer for that system and your purposes will save you time, aggravation and effort by getting it done right the first time.

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