Content is a strategic business asset for many companies these days, so managing it (creating, publishing, updating) is a crucial activity. Content management systems save cost and time of all stakeholders involved in content creation and delivery processes. What are other pros and cons of adding a CMS to your website? See below.
History of Content. From Cave Painting to Business Asset
The earliest pieces of content appeared right after people invented a writing system - around late 4th millennium BC. Then content evolved - blah blah blah (this is not a Wikipedia article) - all the way from papyrus writings to dynamic and interactive websites. These days, content is the most important business asset for some organizations and their websites: think of The New York Times or Coursera. At the same time, content is a collateral but still necessary component for websites of other types: think of user guide for electronic devices at BestBuy or library description at GitHub.
In this article, we’ll briefly cover content management & delivery processes and explain why a company website will hardly survive without a content management system. What is a CMS? Which options are there on the market? CMS pros and cons? What are business implications of using the system? See below!
Before your company first shows up in online space, you should define
- the content that describes it (About Us, Mission and Vision, Terms of Service)
- the type of outbound content it may produce for the target audience (blog articles, case studies, marketing materials) and for which purpose.
The content that appears on the website depends on your business vertical, needs and objectives. In any case, it would be created for a specific purpose. Define it. Do this scalably, with potential growth of your business in mind.
The Dichotomy of Content Management and Delivery
Unlike raw data, content is a result of an editorial process - accumulation of information, authoring and editing, preparing it for publication, reviewing, approving, publishing, versioning, re-publishing... All in iterations. Depending on your focus and organization size, there might be a dedicated editorial team or just a single, Shiva-like, person managing the whole process.
Companies that take their online content seriously usually follow a certain framework for two interrelated sequential processes: a) content creation & management and b) content delivery. This is where a content management system comes in handy.
CMS: Definition, Components & Types
A content management system (CMS) is a software - usually, multi-user, hosted locally or in a cloud - that automates (up to a certain extent) editorial process and content delivery. It allows editors to create new, store and edit existing content, perform any editorial activities, and eventually make it available via a website.
In a nutshell, CMS releases the content authors from the technological complexities of web publishing. You will not need an HTML- or browser-savvy software engineer to issue a new blog article.
Components of a Content Management System
Though most CMS vary in terms of features and functionality, logically all of them have the following components:
- Back-end, with the implemented publishing mechanisms, modules and plugins, templated layouts, roles and permissions managed by website administrators.
- Database and file system storage for content.
- User interface for editors, sometimes called CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete). Most CMS have a rich text (WYSIWYG) or HTML editor or some other interface element that allows to format text and images while preparing pages for publication.
- Front-end, which is eventually displayed to end-users via website pages, e.g. Company Blog or About Us page.
Types of a Content Management System
Just like any software, content management systems vary depending on technology stack, installation mode (hosted locally or in a cloud), license terms and price (commercial and paid or open source and free). Depending on the license terms, commercial CMS vary in price for features-set or volume of content and serve single or multiple users, one or many websites… You could go with a popular end-to end solution or an entirely new CMS built from scratch.
This is out of scope of this article to compare different CMS options and recommend the best CMS to choose for a website. Here’s just one tip: choose a CMS that fits your current and potential business needs.
Just like your content, CMS are targeted at particular markets or usage scenarios.
Ask us if you are still not sure whether your website needs a CMS. Use the contact form below to get in touch, and we’ll discuss your needs.
At Logicify, we opted for django CMS, a modern and flexible CMS based on Django framework that belongs to Python ecosystem. It is open source and community-ran. With it, we manage our marketing website, including blog and portfolio sections, and internal portal too. We deployed the system on our own and extended its basic functionality with custom plugins. We plan to share our experience using the system in the next article. Stay tuned!
Business Implications of a CMS for Your Website
So it is obvious why a news website needs a CMS (because hot content is its strategic asset and competitive advantage). A community forum, where the most valuable content is being generated by users themselves, would also hardly survive without a dedicated system for content processing. But why does an eCommerce or business website need a CMS? Which content at all could be managed on such webpages?
Actually, any website (okey, let’s exclude torrents and file sharing platforms) has content that should be managed (stored, edited, published, updated). This might be inbound marketing stuff, educational materials, landing pages. These include but are not limited to Terms and Conditions, FAQ page, About Us or Our Story page. Team and Careers page. Portfolio. Blog! Even if this does not sound that you need any of these pages right now, you might do in future. Remember: always think scalably. People search for solutions to their problems online, so if you made a good piece of content about your solution, you almost sold it to them.
Tons have been already written about the most obvious advantages of CMS, so we’ll just list them briefly here:
- Almost any CMS organizes and, at least partially, automates content creation and publishing processes. So, it definitely cuts down time on managing content. Hence, saved money and increased editorial efficiency (“content throughput“).
- People who develop a website (team of engineers) and those who create content for it (editorial team) have different set of skills and, actually, mindsets. With a CMS, everyone does what he/she is in charge of: devs configure and manage the system, content people - publish and update the pages for end-users.
- CMS gives you full control of content. You store all pieces and their versions in a single place and have complete freedom to reuse, edite, aggregate them and what not.
- Most CMS are intended for multiple users, which means they allow management of roles and permissions. You can allow different levels of access for any stakeholder in charge.
We delved a bit deeper and collected a few CMS insights that often go unnoticed or omitted.
CMS avails consistent online branding in all mediums.
With modern CMS, you could not just post whatever content appeals to your target audience on your website but create multi-channel marketing campaigns: social media posts, RSS, leaflets, dynamic content… All pieces of content may include nice visuals and custom layouts incorporating your unique brand style guide. You could also make use of content scheduling features (offered out-of-the-box in some CMS, like django CMS) to post in peak-times and gain larger outreach.
Most CMS seamlessly integrate with social media. They automatically format your articles into tweets / Facebook or LinkedIn feed updates and post them under your company account.
CMS use Open Graph tags to optimize the display of shared content on Facebook. If you add “Share” buttons, users would be able to re-post your website content under their social media account, which organically expands your audience.
With CMS, you can explore new horizons for advertising. Consider adding a blog where you post user success stories or native ads for your products / services. Some eCommerce websites even marry their actual online store with a CMS (for instance, using Drupal or Magento platforms).
Some CMS make content mobile devices friendly without additional efforts from your side. For instance, django CMS uses Bootstrap out-of-the-box to make content fit into any viewport size. Provided you have neat responsive markup in your CMS templates, you would not need to create separate versions for desktop and mobile devices.
Some CMS offer search engine optimization features out-of-the-box, which include meaningful slugs (page URLs), meta tags and keywords, proper page structure, etc. These factors add to your website’s accessibility and make this easy for search engine crawlers to index your content. Better accessibility + higher Google ranking = larger visibility and more website visitors.
Most CMS provide sitemaps, which improves the arrangement of your website pages. This way, your website looks more “appealing” to Google crawlers, so you’ll get higher ranking.
With the web pages being neatly arranged, you can track customer journey and behaviour on the website with Google Analytics reports, determine the most and least popular website pages, find out why users bounce and whatnot.
Some CMS, django CMS included, can make your website even more interactive if you incorporate custom feedback, subscription and follow-up forms into your content. Once a user submits a form on your website, you get notified to further deal with the inquiry and respond to the user’s email address.
With a CMS, scaling up is easier. If your marketing campaign or Thanksgiving sale result in a sudden traffic splash, it may be difficult for a proprietary solution to handle this load. Modern CMS platforms, especially large enterprise ones, are cloud-hosted, so even incoming traffic spikes are handled easier.
We won't be objective without listing a few disadvantages of a CMS:
- Implementation and maintenance of a CMS require cost, time, and skills (often way beyond skillset of mere content editors). Depending on your company size, chosen CMS and your actual needs in it, you could opt for an in-house dev team or hire devs for a one-time engagement (CMS implementation, setup, customizations).
For most CMS, you’d better hire an authorized company-integrator or a experienced vendor. Fill in the contact form below if you need help choosing or configuring a CMS for your website.
- Content authors would most likely need to gain new skills to use a CMS. Special expertise is being built through time, and training also comes at a cost.
- Willy-nilly, your editorial team would be obliged to a) follow content creation procedures in CMS and b) adjust their activities to CMS limitations.
There might also appear some CMS-specific disadvantages along the way.
Businesses today are only as good as the software that powers them is. No matter the type of website your company runs, it would benefit from a content management system, especially if you think scalably and for a long term. A modern CMS would help you fine-tune content creation and publishing processes internally and reap numerous positive business implications, including saved time and money.
If you consider marrying your current website with a content management system, we could help you choose a powerful yet easy one. At Logicify, we have been deploying and customizing multiple CMS for our internal and external projects. Drop us a line if you need a hand and advice.
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