What CMS should you be using?
These days, most websites are built using a Content Management System (CMS). You may have heard of the names of the more popular CMS's including:
In fact, there are heaps of CMS's out there. Wordpress commands the greatest share of the market.
There are several factors that you will need to take into account when deciding which CMS to use.
Resources can refer to time or money.
Money Rich, Time Poor
If you have money but no time, then the obvious answer is to invest in a website developer. This will usually result in a better outcome then building a website yourself.
Your website developer will usually be able to recommend an appropriate CMS based on your needs and what they have experience with. If you are thinking of hiring a web developer, there are five questions you must ask here.
Time Rich, Money Poor
If you have time but no money, then the smart thing to do is to try to bring yourself up to speed and build a website yourself.
There are several options for doing this.
- Wordpress - The most widely used CMS is also relatively easy to start using out of the box. Be prepared to dedicate at least a full day to getting the site up and running, and also be prepared to spend about a week perfecting the website.
- Wix - Wix is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website editor. It is pretty easy to use, however most websites built with Wix look like they were built with Wix.
- Squarespace - My preferred option, Squarespace is a great platform for people who don't want to spend too much time playing around with code, but still want their website to look amazing and be unique.
Just plain poor.
If you've got very little time and very little money, then the temptation can be to go to one of the numerous overseas vendors who offer websites on the cheap.
Do Not Do This!
Your business is your brand, and it is important that it looks professional at all times. A poorly made website can often give a worse impression than not having a website at all.
Instead, hustle harder, find some spare money in the couch and make building a website a priority. You should be able to get a website up and running in a CMS like Squarespace for about $20 AUD per month.
How much customisation do you need?
If you just need a simple brochure webpage (Homepage, About Us, Products/ Services, Contact) then an out of the box solution like Squarespace or Wordpress would be a good solution for you.
If you need something more complicated (Forums, User Submission Fields, Integration with a CRM, A two sided marketplace etc.) then there are a couple of options. You could use plugin's for Wordpress that give you the features you need, or you could turn to a CMS that allows for a high degree of customisation, such as Drupal or Joomla!
Online Stores are usually built with WooCommerce or Shopify, both of which are plugins for Wordpress, and also integrate with other CMS. You can also build online stores in Squarespace as well. Planning an online store? There are a few things you need to know here.
Content has a big impact on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or more simply, getting people to your website via search engines. Content creation is essential for any business that want's to compete online, as it means more website visitors and hence, more customers.
Who is going to be adding content to your website?
If you are a very small business, then you may find yourself being responsible for content creation. If that is the case, then you just need to find a CMS that you are comfortable using.
If your staff are creating content however, then you need to find a CMS that they are comfortable using. This is going to depend entirely on the staff members in question. If they are not technically proficient, then you should consider locking down access to areas of the website that they don't need access too.
Security is something that many people who are building a website for the first time overlook.
But what happens if you get hacked? What effect would your website being down have on your business?
It might not just be about your business either, what would happen if your customers details were stolen.
Security should be part of the overall discussion when creating a webpage.
Wordpress in particular has been vulnerable to security hacks, and needs to be updated on a regular basis to stay secure. These updates can be time consuming, and require some technical knowledge to get right.
Drupal is one of the most secure CMS's out there, and is worth looking into if your website needs to contain highly sensitive information.
For people who don't think they need to be concerned about security, Squarespace is also a good option, with many of the plans offering SSL encryption, and providing automatic security updates that won't cause downtime.
So Which CMS is right for me?
There is no right answer to this question. It is entirely up to you, your business requirements and your technical proficiency. I'll give a few recommendations for some common instances that I have seen.
Small Business Owners Should Use Squarespace
Squarespace is great for small business owners who need a simple website. It is quick to setup, offers the right balance between customisation and aesthetics and should be more then sufficient to meet their needs.
Online Stores Wordpress or Squarespace
Wordpress is better than Squarespace when it comes to SEO. If you are trying to gain visibility for highly competitive search terms, then you need every edge you can get, and I would recommend going with Wordpress and a plugin like Shopify or WooCommerce.
On the other hand, there is a lot of fiddling around that can eat into your time. If already get a lot of traffic, or have an online store as a secondary income source for your business, then Squarespace may be sufficent.
Complex Websites - Depends
For Complex websites, your choice in CMS is really going to depend on who is building it, and why it is complex. Your choice in CMS is going to be dependant on the web developer chosen.