Is a Content Management System website the way to go?

I am a huge proponent of responsive CMS websites and as time goes on, I am becoming even more so.  Why?  Because computers are getting faster, data transfer is getting faster, developers are coding lighter and end users are becoming more tech savvy.  

Some Pros:

  • Whether you want to manage your own site or not once it’s developed, whoever does manage it will love you for it and it will save you money.
  • For every platform that’s out there now, you will be able to find thousands of free or very affordable themes or templates that you can start with and modify to suit your requirements.  Even if you see a website you like and don’t have access to its platform or theme, it’s pretty easy to replicate its aesthetics on another flexible CMS platform.
  • You can search for almost anything you see on any website and someone has probably written a plugin or code snippet that will allow you to do it on your chosen platform.  For example “contact form that hides and slides in when tab is clicked wordpress” will generate pages of results, even if you don’t know the correct name of what you are looking for.
  • Development time is decreased exponentially. I used to write every bit of code when I first started designing websites and trust me, it would take years of schooling and months of coding to replicate some of the stuff I’m creating now in a few short days.
  • If you are a web developer and you find a platform and theme that you like, chances are that theme comes with many different templates that you can use for many different businesses. For under $100 you can purchase a theme and all of its templates and have at it.  You can now develop several  websites with the same WordPress theme and they can all look totally different.

Some Cons:

  • An engine like WordPress is a bit heavy and here is a lot of code that you will never use.
  • Most themes come with bells and whistles that you will never use but the code is still there, just in case you do want to use it someday.
  • Hackers are constantly looking for holes and once they find one in an engine or theme or plugin, everyone who uses that same software is vulnerable until the supplier plugs the hole. Hence you need to secure your site properly and keep your software up to date.  If you are managing many sites, this can be a bit of a pain, especially if you don’t have automatic updates turned on for whatever reason.
  • Although with each generation we are becoming more and more tech savvy, a good sound and secure installation is required. Knowing how to modify  CSS, HTML, PHP, Java Script and how to manually manipulate databases are huge assets that most people don’t have.  It’s one thing to be tech savvy and know how to cast a video from you phone to your TV but it’s another thing to modify a PHP program to make it do exactly what you want. They are different kinds of tech savvy.
  • Beware of proprietary engines that lock you in!  I’ve had several clients who have websites built on proprietary platforms and are finding it very difficult to move their site to another host. Yellow Pages for example offers a CMS site and backend platform if you use their hosting. Their website builder software is proprietary and if you decide to leave Yellow Pages later on, you will no longer have access to their backend website builder platform.  They will give you a copy of your raw code in a zip file and you may be able to get the site working on another server but good luck updating it.  Wix is similar. You will not find it easy to transport your site if want to move off Wix. A lot of people do want to move away from Wix eventually because they are good for beginners to get up and running but you will soon outgrow what they have to offer.

In A Nutshell:

I do not profess to know every CMS software out there but I started building my first CMS sites when Joomla was the hot ticket and I have tried several since. In my humble opinion, CMS is the way to go in most cases and my current flavour of the month is WordPress.

WordPress is very easy to use now that there are block builders behind almost every theme worth its salt and your site can be transferred to any web hosting company that offers PHP and MySQL, which is basically any web host worth their salt.  

As easy as they are to use once they are up and running, you should hire a professional to install, secure and setup your CMS website while you provide aesthetic and functionality instructions.  Once the site is up and running and secure, you can go ahead and fill your boots. You need to be very diligent with site security.  You need to keep hackers, spammers and miners locked out to protect your server, your code and your and your site visitors’ information.  Feedback forms, eCommerce and secure checkouts are a whole other ball game that I haven’t even touched on here.  Site security is another post for another day.

… and so on