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Choosing a Web Content Management System; Part 1

Selecting a Web Content Management System may seem like a complicated decision, but it doesn’t have to be. With a good CMS, you do not need to know what PHP, .Net, MySQL, HTML, and CSS mean. That is what the CMS is for. Your job is to select something that has the capacity to deliver a strong return on the investment that you make in your website while delivering tangible business growth.

Expert Developments has put together a list of the basic necessities for your CMS. There are a lot of them, and this list will continue to expand, as part of a three-week focus on CMS basics.

Please feel free to leave a comment, or email us if there is anything we miss through this series.

One of the first things that should influence your decision is whether it meets all of your essential requirements. These could be as basic as wanting to be able to add, delete, and edit web pages, through to handling an online shopping cart, member subscriptions, organising events, or high detail CRM functions. You will have your own list of essential and nice to have requirements for your organisation. Put these together before even beginning to look at CMS's, and use this as part of a weighting system.

Essential functions of any CMS:

- Wysiwyg editor; (what you see is what you get);  a CMS is meant to manage your content for you. You don’t want to have to mess around worrying about where you can make changes in lines of code. You want to be able to just do it on a page, and use familiar tools to insert the content you want, in the format you want. With a good wysiwyg editor, you have simple access to edit content, including all text areas, and images, basically anything that isn’t the template of your website. This makes it easy for you to develop and maintain your website over time, without having to pay designers to do it for you.

- Usable remotely through web services; you shouldn’t need a programme installed on your computer to make changes to your website. From conference details to contact information, you need to be able to access and change this information anywhere with an internet connection. If everybody else can access your website anywhere with an internet connection, you should be able to change It in the same manner.

- Automatic updates (you don’t want to find out that you have missed updating your CMS for 6 months, and been exposed to possible intrusion in that time.

- Logical, simple to use administration area; the reason you want a CMS is to simplify the job of creating, and editing web content. Make it as easy as possible.

- Ability to schedule publish times for web pages. Nobody wants to only be able to edit live documents, or be at the computer at the exact time you want your page to go up. Publishing tools are essential to make your life easier, and website a more automated system.

- Blogging system, including feedback on documents; Social Media is huge. It brings a closer connection to your organisation, its people, customers, clients, and members. With blogging systems you can create conversations, get people engaged, and moderate what is said, with the entire platform operating how you want, around your customers needs.

- Marketing; integrated e-zine and email capability; while having a website has become more than a simple necessity for all businesses to get exposure, the website itself is not enough. You need a way to drive people to it, to show them what you are doing , and what they can get out of it. It’s great to have website visitors, but you have to keep them coming back somehow. That’s where e-zines and email marketing come in. A good CMS based website will give you the ability to send emails out to unlimited clients, and customers, professionally styled in a designed template, at little or no cost, while also meeting all legal requirements.

This list will continue to expand. Please let us know any other features you can't do without, and we'll make sure they get added to the list....

Continue to part 2

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