Choosing the Right Web Site Content Management System

Very few commercial Web sites do not have a Content Management System (CMS) these days.  The tools to create an easy way to add and update content for your site are easy enough to use and implement that even small businesses can easily put together a Web site using WordPress, Drupal or Joomla with or without the help of a Web Design and Development firm.  These ‘stock’ installations of these popular Open Source Content Management Systems offer a lot of great features that the average company will be able to use, and skinning them so that they look like a company’s unique identity can be quite simple to do if you are just wanting to change basic colors and logos.

Larger Web sites, however, can be much more complex to set up, and often have unique needs that the basic installation of one of these free, Open Source systems do not have ‘out of the box.’ For instance, Drupal might have a user registration module, but the entire work flow and registration process for your organization might have drastically different needs.  The question is: do you compromise what you want, or get your Content Management System to work the way you want it to?  I will always recommend the latter.  There are so many options out there that you should never have to compromise your vision.

There are three ways to approach the challenge of truly unique needs and requirements:

1. Modify an Open Source Content Management System to suit your needs.

Again, this is something that I’ve done countless times and it definitely possible.  If you are drastically modifying the core of the CMS, I would strongly recommend finding a company that has a lot of experience with the Content Management System you are using.  You want to make sure that it will be relatively painless to upgrade the core system without making too many modifications.  A less experienced programmer might unknowingly make a change to the Content Management System’s underlying functionality that will prove problematic later on.

2. Find a Content Management System that has the functionality you are looking for, or something very close to it.

This might involve moving towards a licensed, proprietary Content Management System.  There is certainly nothing wrong with this option, and many larger organizations have found that the Open Source CMS options out there are good, but not tailored towards the larger, enterprise mindset and need for scalability.  There are plenty of great licensed CMS platforms out there, ranging anywhere from $5,000/year to upwards of $100,000/year and, like anything else, the more you pay, the more flexibility, expandability and technical support you will get. You will be able to get the system customized to your liking as well by working with either the CMS company itself or a preferred vendor. Obviously, companies and organizations with little to no annual licensing budgets will quickly find that what they are looking for is out of reach, and might go back to looking at the Open Source options.

3. Create your own Content Management System

Some times, there are just such specific work flow and functional needs for your Web site or Web-based application that it does not make sense to use either a standard Open Source CMS or another proprietary one. For a site that interfaces with other very unique systems, has unique user/member needs, or has only one aspect that needs to be controlled by a WYSIWYG editor, some times it makes sense to just develop a custom Content Management System that handles these parts of your Web site. The advantages of a customized CMS is that it does EXACTLY what you want it to, the way you want it to.  The drawback, of course, is that if you want to change Web Development vendors, you will want to make sure that your new vendor can work with your system.  The benefit of an Open Source system is that there is a large community of developers familiar with the system, and the benefit of a proprietary system is that most of the time there is a highly qualified preferred vendor network that can help you if you need to change Web Development providers.

Choosing a Web Content Management System is not an easy task, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that your CMS should not determine what your Web site can do.  Make sure you find the one that will let you and your organization accomplish its goals.

Ace That Interview With A Striking Web Design

It is common knowledge that the internet is accessed worldwide by millions of people each day. It is therefore imperative that if you want to go on-line, then always remember the rule of thumb: ‘First impressions count’.

Just like you prepare yourself when going to an interview, you also need to prepare your website when planning to go online. Think of it as an interview where the whole world will be judging whether you are fit for their wallets.

You think you can make it? Of course you can! Follow the guidelines below that will guarantee that you ace that interview.

Use language that is easy to understand

The most important point to remember here is that the first few seconds will either make you or break you. It is therefore imperative to ensure that at first glance, you are able to capture the interest of your visitors.

Do not use complicated jargon which will require one to look for an encyclopaedia to get what you mean. That will not work in your interest. Use clear language that can be understood by any layman.

Have a user-friendly website

How many times have you visited a site only to be disappointed since you were not able to find what you needed? Doesn’t that just burst your bubble? I am sure you wouldn’t go back to that site again after such a bad experience.

Now think of your site and ensure that you don’t suffer the same fate. Hire professional web designers and web developers that have proven track records. For instance, use software that facilitates fast downloads. Always confirm that everything is working perfectly, down to the smallest detail.

The secret is in the SEO

Now who wouldn’t want to be ranked highest in the search engines? I am sure no one. It is a tough race getting to the top. You therefore have to ensure that you do everything necessary to ensure that you are prepared for the race.

Always ensure that your site is search engine optimised. Use key words for your business and have unique content. If possible, hire a web developer and SEO company to help you achieve high ratings.

Embrace your personality

Don’t complicate things for yourself by trying to portray yourself as someone you are not just in an effort to get visitors. When you go online and get visitors you your site, then they will want to connect with the person described in the site.

A web designer who is professional in his work will also tell you this. You wouldn’t want to portray yourself differently because when they find out, you will lose out. Let the customers get in touch with the real you.

Think Mobile

A mobile phone is no longer just a device for making calls and sending texts. It has become a moving PC where you can download any app you need. It is therefore important that you keep this in mind when embarking on your website design.

Make sure that it can be downloaded on a phone without any problem. You can even go further and hire the service of a web designer as well as a web developer to help create some apps that can be linked to your site such as games.

Do You Need Website Design or Website Development?

If you use the Internet on a regular basis you have probably noticed the wide variance of website design; some are your plain vanilla type websites; white backgrounds with black text and very few if any graphics while others are distinguished by their heavy reliance on graphics such as flash animation.

Website Design

Generally the tasks required to create your Internet presence is viewed as an aspect of web development. You will find individuals who are web designers, those who are web developers along with those who claim to do both. But even though both of these terms are used loosely to mean the same thing, there is a difference between website design and web development; in short website design takes care of the look and web site development makes the little work with the search engines and Internet technology.

Although flash animation websites are extremely popular these website designs are notoriously subject to be bypassed by search engine spiders because they cannot read imagery. Regardless of how much text is within the flash animation it will not be able to be read. Because of this limitation, without web development there are many sites which never appear on the search engines.

When you understand the limitations of using flash animation or other graphics you can develop workarounds that are content-based to balance the impact of the graphics. Website design can be as unique and creative as necessary to reflect the business image and produce a visitor friendly experience at the same time.

Web Development

At its best a well-thought out visual presentation will provide what required to be cross-browser compatible. This one factor alone can make or break your level of success with an online business. If your website design is not at this level, web development services can correct this problem.

Although the graphical elements include the navigation bar, the navigation process; how a visitor travels through your site is accomplished through a variety of development methods. For instance internal page hyper links, breadcrumb links, site maps and the search function all play a role in connecting your visitors to your content.

The way content management is presented is also a part of web development; the use of HTML tables as part of the website design process is much more of a fluke than most people realize; HTML4 tables were never intended for the purpose of bringing continuity to website design, this is the purpose of using cascading style sheets or CSS, to bring continuity of style and design to the website in an easy to edit format. The problem with using HTML4 tables from a search engine spider’s point of view is the additional lines of coding they are required to read when tables are used.

Because there are millions of websites indexed on a monthly basis search companies program the spiders with a certain amount of time to crawl a page, read the code and index it. Whether or not a designer uses W3C compliant techniques is one of the most factors to consider when creating your Internet website.