Content Manager System  screenshot

Content Manager System

When it comes to create a website, you always find the same question: what should you use, a CMS (Content Manager System) or should you do it programming? Most websites require not only HTML or CSS, but also a PHP and JavaScript part that may not be accessible for everyone. These two systems offer almost the same features, but the difference comes when you have to decide whether your workflow will be collaborative and when you want to customize your website; depending on the system you choose, you will be able to customize more or less your website.

Both systems have their advantages as we will see, but there are a few questions you need to answer before taking this decision. Depending on your programming skills and how much time you have to create or project your resources, you will choose the perfect system for you.

First Step: Designing and planning your website

You need to decide which sections and services your website will have, for instance, will you include a FAQ section? How will you check the SEO? Will you include a forum for users? You can always look for a forum module for your web-based CMS, but even in this way, you may need some help with the PHP.

It may sound shabby and childish but sometimes it can be useful to start designing your website “painting” it with Adobe Photoshop or even easier, designing software like Paint. Start making a schematic design and add new features little by little, in baby steps.

If you choose a Content Manager System you will find infinite templates for your website. Some of them even have their own designing templates tools, very easy-to-use, that will allow you to design your website as you wish. Since the CMSs are based on modules, they are meant to be extensible and easy to modify and customize. This is one of the strongest points of CMS because, if you decide to create your website programming, you will need professional designing tools such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Flash Professional. CMSs stand out for their accessibility.

It is very important to thoroughly think how your website will be before implementing any system. Once you have decided what you want, the design, the architecture… it will become easier to take your decision.

Second Step: Open-Source CMS VS Proprietary CMS

Depending on your budget or the philosophy of your project, you will choose either an open-source CMS or a proprietary one. Open-Source CMS’ have loads of opportunities since you will be able to modify your add-ons more deeply than in a proprietary CMS, mostly because most proprietary CMSS modules are not editable. A big advantage of open-source CMS is that it counts with a rich and wide online community that actively contributes creating new modules continuously.

The strongest point of the proprietary CMS’ is the technical support of the developing company if you find any problem and want to consult your doubts. Most proprietary CMS’ are more optimized than the open-source ones. Although these ones are more accessible for newbies, they can be a little messy for these non advanced users when modules conflict. This happens because these kinds of conflicts are caused by scripts, and it can be hard to solve if you don’t know JavaScript.

Both proprietary and open-source CMS’ offer plenty of features and are easy-to-use, so your choice will depend basically on your budget. Do you think that proprietary CMS’ are worth it?

template cms
template cms

Third Step: Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages and disadvantages of CMS

Adavantages

  • There is a module for anything you may need. Modules will ease your work significantly since you will find all what you need in just a few packages.
  • You can create your website with non-technical knowledge in just a few steps. You won’t need to use HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL…
  • Content Manager Systems are very useful for creating intranet in enterprises and organizations because they allow managing content easily and it requires little maintenance.
  • Designing a website with CMS’ is faster and easier than programming
  • You can use free templates to design your website
  • With CMS’ you can easily implement HTML5 features
  • Loads of developers to find the perfect module for your website
  • You can design your project collaboratively with your contributors
  • Most CMS’ have a user-friendly interface
  • You can make your website responsive in just a few clicks
  • There are loads of tutorials online
  • You can already find loads of modules in HMTL5
  • Suitable for both professional websites and amateur blogging

Disadvantages

  • It is not as customizable as designing a website programming
  • In case of conflict between the modules, it’s harder to solve
  • Installing several modules may create conflicts that may crash the website
  • Less SEO features
  • You can’t access to the back end
  • It has more restrictions

Advantages and Disadvantages of Programming your website

Advantages

  • Full access to any aspect of your website
  • It enables you to customize your website totally
  • Full freedom to make whatever you want in your website
  • Using a wysiwyg (“what you see is what you got) program you will see quickly any change to implement on your website
  • More SEO features to configure and enhance your website traffic
  • Easily and full accessibility to the back end
  • Optimized front end

Disadvantages

  • You have to check the code thoroughly, any little mistake can be a disaster
  • You need advanced technical programming knowledge, specially HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and MySQL
  • Unfortunately it is not suitable for collaborative workflows
  • You may need professional designing software to design your website

cms template
cms template

Useful tips for creating a website with CMS

Although there are loads of CMSs, if you take your time to research you will find the perfect one for you. Choosing the CMS that better fits your project will be a crucial factor to decide whether your project will be a success or a disaster. A good CMS will provide you several enhancements, responsive design, SEO tools, security features and even tools for social networks.

Maybe you are not very keen on SEO, but if you want your website to grow and reach as much people as possible, it may be interesting for you to add a SEO tools module. This way you will be able to analyze what kind of contents are preferred by your followers, which are the best hours to publish new content... You will get extra statistics to add to your Google Analytics results. Creating different subsites for every kind of content will improve the way Google finds your website. One thing that can make you get a few extra points in SEO is the usability and a responsive design, you should make your website suitable for all platforms, all browsers and mobile devices. And of course, select the strongest and finest keywords.

If your target is to reach followers from different countries, it may be interesting to add a multilingual module. This way, your content will be automatically translated into several languages.

Using a CMS will facilitate the process of creating databases and will save you a bad time fighting with MySQL, jQuery, PHP... Databases are very useful for a web since they allow you to create forums and your own online shop. With these extensions, creating your own online shop will be as easy as adding content to an excel file and uploading pictures for you products.

What to do once it's done

Once you have finished your website and it is online, you need people to know it, how? Easily: social networks. Creating a profile in social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+ will significantly increase the number of visitors to your web and will strengthen your banding image. But once created, you will regularly have to post on them to get visitors; you should never abandon your profiles. The management of your profiles won't take you too long but it will retrieve you loads of visitors.

Conclusion

If you want to create your own website there are several ways to do it. Before choosing between a CMS or doing it programming yourself the whole web, you should take into account several things that will indicate you which system fits better with your needs. Most users choose CMSs because of their accessibility and ease-to-use, and of course, because of the price. Which fits better with your project, CMS or programming?