Using a content management system

Most people glaze over when web developers talk about content management systems. The words "management" and "systems" in the same phrase is enough to send anyone running for the hills. However, using a good robust content management system is vital to any online venture. So lets demystify content management.

In a galaxy far far away, people used to hand code every webpage. When adding a new page, they would create a new html page and add the content. Many still do. But what happens when the site reaches 50, 100 or even 1000 pages? It becomes totally unmanageable. Changes to the site become a major task. Just adding content becomes tedious and downright boring. Your love of writing content soon turns into a hate of html code.

But never fear, a super hero by the name of CMS (Content Management System) is here to save the day. As the name suggests, a CMS manages your content. This is achieved by storing the content in a database (such as MySQL) and calling that content when the user requests it. The layout is still controlled by (x)html and css, but rather then having one html page for every page of your site, you actually only have one or two html pages for your entire site. These pages in effect become template pages and your content is pulled into that page from the database using a programming language such as PHP or ASP.Net.

There are many open source content management systems that are free to download and use. Some are incredibly powerful and customisable.

Here are some of the best:

Blogger

As the name suggests, Blogger is suitable for a simple blog. You can set a free blogger account and run your blog off the blogger server, or host it yourself. Blogger is the easiest content management system around, but difficult to customise if you want to add additional functionality.

Visit Blogger.

Wordpress

Most professional bloggers swear by Wordpress. Wordpress is easy to install and you can have a blog or simple website up and running in a matter of minutes. There is a wide range of add ons to increase the functionality of your site.

Visit Wordpress.

Drupal

Drupal is a fully fledge content management system. It is more difficult to set up and you need some web development knowledge to run it successfully. If you do have the knowledge and are willing to learn the Drupal way of doing things, then you have got a real gem. Drupal is incredible powerful and customisable. You have complete control over how the site looks and can add an array of excellent modules. Drupal is suitable for a simple blog to a fully fledge community site or news portal.

Visit Drupal.

What ever system you decide to go with, I recommend you use a content management system as early as possible. It will help you grow your site and save time and effort in the long run.

Add new comment