‘Content management’ is all the rage these days in website development circles. But what exactly is content management, and why might your organisation benefit from it?
A content-managed website offers organisations a number of significant advantages over a traditional website:
- a content-managed website doesn’t require a trained web developer, as it can be updated by regular users through a simple browser-based interface;
- multiple people can contribute to the content of the website, they can be given different levels of access and the website can be updated with a secure login from any location;
- ease of maintenance means that your website will be fresher and richer in content, and ultimately deliver better results;
- database-stored content can be more easily indexed and searched; and
- with design separated from content, the ‘look and feel’ of the website (graphics, colours, fonts, etc) can be consistently maintained across the entire site.
It wasn’t that long ago that a Content Management System (CMS) website cost a small fortune and it was only large businesses that invested in them, so it’s not hard to find web development companies that still try to get away with charging a lot to provide one.
What has put the power of content management into the reach of not-for-profit organisations, however, is the recent proliferation of open source CMS tools. Popular systems such as Joomla (www.joomla.org) or Typo3 (www.typo3.org), which are free for anyone to download, offer ‘right out of the box’ all the standard CMS features listed above. What’s more, they provide access to a vast array of other features, such as discussion forums, emailing lists, web logs (‘blogs’), document management, image galleries, and e-commerce tools, all of which can be used to enhance your website and entice users to return.
With the availability of these open source CMS packages, a content-managed website does not have to be any more expensive than a traditional static website, and may in fact be cheaper and easier to develop – something which is worth keeping in mind the next time you come to redevelop your organisation’s site.
Geoffrey Ready is managing consultant with Avec Solutions, a social economy company providing IT and management consultancy primarily to the not-for-profit sector. Many of Avec Solutions’ services are built around open source solutions, including Linux web hosting, open source content managed websites, and Asterisk voice-over-IP telephony.