Before we jump into things, let me make a quick introduction. I’m Ben Glick, a new frontend/backend developer at Papercut. You can find out a little more about me here. For my first contribution to the company blog, I’m writing about a subject that’s near and dear to my heart: content management systems.
At Papercut, most of the websites we build are equipped with content management systems. You might not know what a content management system (or CMS, for short) is, but chances are you’ve probably heard of some of the big ones, like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, and Expression Engine. If you manage a website, a CMS can make your life easier in several ways.
Are you thinking of building a new site or redesigning your current website? Here are just a few reasons why you should consider investing in a content management system:
This is probably the biggest advantage of using a content management system. A CMS makes it easier for both end users and development teams to manage a website. With a CMS, users with virtually no technical or coding knowledge can make changes to a website. This provides a few benefits:
- End users have the freedom to edit their content directly
- Multiple users can collaborate on the site from multiple geographic locations
- It allows for immediate updates
- It reduces ongoing website maintenance costs
- Developers are free to work on more technical aspects of the website
From a development standpoint, a CMS is the easiest way for the dev team to organize the structure of the site, including which template is used where and which areas of a template are editable. It also helps developers make site-wide changes quickly, which is important when fine-tuning a website.
Plugins and Extensions
A CMS also allows you to leverage plugins and extensions on your site. A plugin is essentially a bundle of code that adds new features to your website. Plugins can add forms, help you improve your site’s SEO, and even insert those handy little what-you-see-is-what-you-get (or WYSIWYG) boxes that let you type and edit text just like you do in Microsoft Word.
This means that you can customize the functionality of your website without having to ask your developers to reinvent the wheel or do a complex integration. Most extensions have an easy installation, and there’s probably a plugin out there for the functionality you need.
One of the best things about content management systems is that they make it really, really easy for you to add new content to your site. We know that search engines love new content, and it’s just a good idea to freshen up your site every once in a while.
Blogs are a great way to feed new content into your site, and if you want a blog, there’s no question that you need a CMS. A content management system with blogging capabilities will dynamically build pages that display the most recent post, pagination, comment forms, and links to tags/categories. Without a content management system, all of this would have to be manually updated (and recreated) each time you publish a post. Don’t take that CMS for granted!
If you want to add a new page to your site, a content management system makes that easy, too. Just select the appropriate template, add your content, and hit publish.
Save Yourself Some Time!
The truth is, once you get past about five pages of content on a site, a CMS really becomes necessary. Without one, things get tricky and time consuming. Your website isn’t something that should be created and abandoned, and the best way to maintain it is by using a content management system.
Have a question or want to share your favorite CMS? Leave it in the comments!