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To CMS or not to CMS?

In Tips on November 11, 2010 at 3:41 pm

It happens to us all the time. A prospect asks to meet with us regarding a new website. One of their requirements is that they want the site to be dynamic and engaging. And one of their issues is that they haven’t set a budget for their project. Those two things clash when the discussion comes around to developing the website. And the biggest decision our prospects face is whether to use a CMS or not. Below are three tips for making this decision, but first let’s define the terms.

A CMS (content management system) is a framework for adding content to a website. It provides a user-friendly interface so that someone without any training in website code can make updates and minor design changes to the site. The most prolific CMS in the world is WordPress. REACH uses one of two CMS to build website, depending on the project requirements: Wordpess and Typo3. CMS are convenient if non-developers need hands-on access to the site. So does your site need a CMS? Ask yourself this:

What’s your budget?
Integrating a CMS can increase the cost of development by as much as 75 percent, but it may save you expenses in the long run for updating and changing the site.

Will you pay the price for dynamic content?
Fresh, dynamic content is vitally important to a successful website. It’s the first step in attracting new visitors and retaining regular visitors. But it’s not easy. Someone has to take time to create and upload new content on a regular basis. Before you spend the money on a CMS-designed website, get honest with yourself about website updates. Will you really ever get around to them? Are they really important to you? Is a dynamic website a vital part of your business plan? If you can’t answer yes to those questions, it might be best to accept your website’s role as a static, online brochure.

Will you stay with your developer?
CMS frameworks make it easy for websites to get passed from one developer to another. If you have a good relationship with the vendor who is developing the site and you feel confident that that agency will meet your needs for updates and changes going forward, then save some money and let them develop it with HTML or however they feel comfortable. But if you suspect that you’ll outgrow their services or availability, a CMS will make it easier to “port” the site to a new provider.

Consider these issues before undertaking your next website project. They will save you time, money and headaches.

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What has been your experience? Are you familiar with any CMS? What’s your favorite?

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