Content Management System Advice

Managing your content before it’s too late

Internal and customer driven pressures have seen many business shift from mere web site brochures towards content rich 1000 page business web sites.

This rapid growth in the volume of web site content often caused bottlenecks to emerge around web masters resulting in time delays and mounting web design costs. The past year couple of years however has seen many businesses have side stepped these problems by opting for software systems called content management systems that allow a business to self manage its own web site.

What is a content management system?

Content management systems can be described as software systems that allow businesses to self manage their web site content.

For example, they give authorised staff members the ability to easily create and edit web site pages and publish those pages to the internet without necessitating the skills or participation of an IT specialist.

The benefits of content management systems (“CMS”) include timeliness, increased staff productivity and the reduction of web designer and IT staff costs.

What to consider before choosing a CMS?
Before embarking on your quest to find a new CMS you first need to assess the existing state of play in your business, any anticipated business growth and the desired outcomes from your use of a CMS.

Start by considering the current business needs and any foreseeable future needs. This internal analysis should involve your business managers together with the staff who will be the primary users of the CMS.

Then consider any technical considerations. Some technical considerations include deciding how often your web site content should be updated (real time, hourly, daily, weekly); the type of content that will be included in your web site (text, images, video); and whether the web content must be viewable across a variety of browsing devices beyond PCs (such as hand held devices).

What to look for when choosing your CMS!

When choosing your CMS focus on the core attributes of flexibility, ease of implementation, ease of use, compatibility with your other software and scalability.

Common components of Content Management Systems

include:
• Authoring – new content creation
• Editing
• Templating - displaying content in a standard and consistent format or layout
• Database capabilities – to either create new databases or to integrate with existing stock management or business database systems
• Meta tagging - describing content with meta tags
• Collaboration – allowing multiple specified people to create and edit content collaboratively
• Automated scheduling and workflow
• Security – allowing access for authorised people to specified web site areas whilst preventing access by unauthorised staff
• Version archiving and audit trails
• Syndication - allowing content to be displayed by others

A core element of many systems are the WYSIWYG HTML editors and wizards.

WYSIWYG means ‘what you see is what you get’ and it refers to software tools that allow a person to design the content and layout of an HTML page without the need to use HTML programming code.

The WYSIWYG tools allow a person with limited IT skills to use basic editing tools similar to those found in business software such as Microsoft Word to create HTML documents with text, pictures, formatting and layout.

A factor to also consider is whether the CMS is flexible enough to allow the web pages to be optimised for search engines.

Businesses are increasingly appreciating the need to optimise their web pages to achieve better search engine rankings. If you want to have your web site optimised now or in the future you will need to ensure that your CMS allows templates and web pages to be modified for search engine optimisation purposes and that they allow internal and external hyperlinking.

XML feed capability is another factor to consider.

Many e-commerce web sites including our Gillett’s Jewellers web site now provide XML feeds of product listings direct to shopping portals and affiliate programs that assist with the promotion and sale of products. If you would like to have the ability to send product XML feeds to other web sites, you will need to ensure that your CMS offers XML feed functionality.

To rent, to buy or to build?

There are generally three options when it comes to using a CMS. You can purchase an off the shelf package, build it yourself or use an application service provider (“ASP”) where you rent or licence the software on a monthly or yearly basis.

The ASP model has my favour as the upfront costs are significantly reduced, the software is accessed via the internet so there is no need to buy additional hardware or software; any software updates are automatic and are generally at no financial cost to the customer and there is no need to have technical staff to specifically manage the system.

So, if you want to put the creative control back in hands of people who have expertise, reduce IT costs and improve the quality of your web site content you should start exploring ways that your business can benefit from investing in a content management system.

 

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Sharon Wild writes ecommerce articles for Qld Business Review, she is also Strategy & Marketing Director of e-JAZ.com.au

Sharon Wild
Strategy & Marketing Director of e-JAZ, Sharon has been involved in the e-commerce community for several years. She successfully manages Australia's largest online jewellery store, Gillett's Jewellers.

Sharon can be contacted via email on sharon@e-jaz.com.au