Introduction to CMS

CMS header image

Choosing a CMS

A Content Management System (or CMS) is a way to organize content for a website which allows users to update or change without having to know code. There are many CMS applications to choose from. Each one is different and offers a variety of features. In choosing a CMS, it’s important to know which features are the most important according to you or your client’s needs.

Essential CMS Features

With so many features, it might be tempting to just pick the CMS with the most features, but this can actually do more harm than good! First, decide what essential features you need and then consider features that might be nice, but not as necessary. This is the best strategy for choosing a CMS.

Some essential features a CMS may have are:

  • User-friendly interface
  • Easy to manage menus and navigation
  • Easy to customize functions or design
  • Many templates/themes to choose from
  • Tutorials

Other CMS Features

Some other features that may be useful but might not be as essential are:

  • Many plug-ins/extensions or add-ons
  • Login History
  • Spell Check
  • Drag and Drop
  • Image resizing

Evaluating CMS Options

There are many CMS applications to choose from. Some are free and some aren’t. The following are some of the most popular and they are free:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Drupal

Do keep in mind though, that even though the CMS is free, it may cost a company to hire someone to maintain and update the website. Also, some templates/themes are not free.

Some other things to consider in choosing a CMS:

  • Using a template: How customizable is it?
  • How good is security (especially e-commerce sites)?
  • Is there an easy way to search for content?
  • Does it have clean, valid code?

Check out community forums to get feedback and learn tips on a particular CMS.

Comparison Resources

  • This is a good article from noupe.com comparing WordPress and Joomla.
  • CMS Matrix is a great resource for comparing CMS features.
  • Here is a chart with useful comparisons on socialcompare.com

SEO for CMS

SEO Rankings are important for businesses. One advantage of using a CMS is that content is easy to update and content is a key factor for improving SEO.

Magnifying glass

Here are some ways to improve SEO:

  • Meta data, page titles & header tags
  • Drop down navigation
  • Keywords in the URL
  • Keyword phrases
  • Relevant and regularly updated content
  • Backlinks (or inbound links)

CMS for Designers

Designers need to know how to use a variety of CMSs because so many businesses and clients are using them. The best way to learn how to use a CMS is by researching and practicing!

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