Tech

CMS? What is it? Do I really need one?

CMS, the Content Management System is the one that makes the process to update and manage your website – a convenience. A good CMS, as they say, empowers you to add and manage the content on your websites.

There are a few, who feel that internet surfing and checking on websites, is like reading a book. You turn the page and there you are on the next page with new content. However; I personally feel that there is absolutely no similarity between the both of them.

CMS

It’s high time we think about content and not pages

With books every page is unique while the header and footer are the repeating elements, everything else is the content. But with websites it is not so. Though a website also has the header and footer, we cannot miss out on several other elements such as menus, sidebars, article listings and much more. Imagining a situation where you are supposed to create a separate menu on every single page, is the right way to understand that all these are features and not the content itself.

You write a content piece, upload it on the CMS and it promptly gives out a nice page bearing your article plus the menus, sidebars, and all the fixings – now that is CMS.

Several paths that lead to your content

Books are typical reading material where each chunk of words appears once. It usually happens that you start from page 1 and read through the end, which is a good thing. With physical book in your hand, you get that sustained concentration that no website of eBook reader can ever offer you. But that’s what books are good at.

These books are not required to offer several paths to the same content or chunk of words. It just has a table of content, and an index at times, and some cross references. However; most of the readers read the entire book so these things are not in focus.

Compared to this scenario, websites however; feature articles and even shorter snippets of content that can be accessed to read in any order. You know it well, you may write and publish a blog in chronological order, visitors tend to check out random posts.

So now you understand; the story does not get over with mere posting the content. You are actually required to offer several ways for visitors to find what they want on your website.

This certainly includes:

  • Listings of recent article titles, sometimes with teasers or blurbs introducing the article
  • Category or tag listings
  • Listings of similar or related articles
  • Syndication: an RSS or Atom feed, for readers who use a feed aggregator
  • Archive by date, as some of your visitors might feel sequential
  • Maybe even an automated email newsletter

Every time you post something or the other on your website, you need to update aforesaid – without fail.

Now imagine, you doing it by hand. Trust me – it’s the last thing on earth that you want to do.

This is where a CMS really shines out. You just need to upload your new article or blog, add a few tags here and there, and that’s it. The CMS takes care of rest of the things. Your new article instantaneously appears on all the listings, and your RSS feed gets updated as well. Some of the CMS with advanced features have the capability to notify search engines about your new content piece – you just need to post your article.

Good CMS can make your life easy; but you’ll have to learn few of the basics

If you are reading this, means you have come a long way in this article and now are aware of most of the complex and tedious tasks a CMS does for you and your business website. If I missed out on mentioning any one of it, please feel free to share the same in the comments box below.

But for attaining this convenience, enjoying this luxury, you certainly need to put in some efforts to learn some of the basic fundamental of any CMS. If you are planning to manage it on your own, a further deep insight to its features and functionalities should work to your advantage.

There are several hosts offering one click installers that are good options. But eventually, you surely would want to make a copy of your website, a launch pad kind of an arrangement where you can test new designs and upgrades. In any case, you will have to learn the manual installation as well.

Software upgrades are the next thing that you need to learn. The developers keep adding improvements and fixing security holes in the code, which means you, need to keep your copy current. If you fail to do so, chances of your site getting defaced by some automated script are high.

Though good CMS is designed to make upgrades relatively easy, you still need to intervene. At times you will have to test the upgrades on a private copy of your site first. Execute it with added accuracy so that you do not make changes that could eventually make future upgrades difficult.

You can certainly go ahead to hire a developer, who can efficiently handle these tasks for your websites. However; I would still advice you to learn and know about the particular strengths and quirks of any CSM that you decide to opt for. The more you know about these features, the more new ideas you’ll get for your site. Why don’t you invest some time, and I will help you learn more about CMS – believe me the payoff would certainly be bigger than you can even think of.

Chirag Shivalker is a Head of Content Management Team at Hi-Tech ITO, an India based outsourcing firm.

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Chirag Shivalker has been a highly-focused self-starter & is accustomed to fast pace, tight deadlines and multiple assignments. His diverse, professional and personal background & experience helps him understand the issues that challenge and drive, company’s talented writing and editing team members. His exceptional portfolio includes feature articles for trade and consumer publications, marketing collateral, press releases, and online content.

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