To CMS or not to CMS – that is the question.

With the increased popularity of the UK start up culture, the global financial crisis (yes I’m going there) has created a thrifty, DIY style of entrepreneurial web developer. There seems to be no end to the boom of Word Press sites popping up, but worryingly most can spot them a mile off! Depending on your level of skill and knowledge they will stick out like a sore thumb, and let’s be honest, they’re quite the techy turn-off.

If you are going to use a website which operates on one of the many CMS platforms, it’s definitely worth working with a good developer to make sure your page doesn’t end up looking like another template. Something potentially disastrous to your business, aren’t you bothered about your brand image?

I’m not anti-CMS, and I think there are a lot of great reasons for incorporating them into a website (providing it’s done properly!) but I think the problem with CMS lies in the education of the customer. Before deciding to develop with CMS, you need to weigh up the priority you will place on keeping your site content up to date and how often you will realistically need to make changes. Building a website entirely around CMS platforms can increase the cost dramatically, and this is cost you might not really need to suffer. Another option would be to include retainers in contracts – your developer should be more than happy to agree a bi-annual content update at a fixed cost. Repeat business for a developer is a big deal, and it will also improve the business relationship you both share. If they decline without good reason, don’t fret - you’ve probably saved some money in the long run, as this shady character is only after a quick buck!

A common misconception about CMS stems from its name. I’d prefer we call it CUS (Content Updating System) because there is very little management on the content you will be able to update to your site. Experience and knowledge about design and content are massively important, and you can really shoot yourself in the foot when using CMS on your websites. There’s no warning on a trampolines to stop you from doing somersaults in the dark, and for obvious reasons. It’s a bit of common sense – and the same applies to website content.

There are lots of things to consider when working out your requirements to your site and CMS should feature heavily in your decision process. My personal advice would be to know your own limitations, whether that’s time constraints or content creation, be true to yourself to give your website the best possible chance of success.

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