If you are interested in creating a website, you probably want a content management system (CMS). While you can code a website from scratch if you know how, a CMS lets most people easily add content, format their websites, and add and arrange content how they see fit. However, selecting the right CMS can be challenging and many get overwhelming.
There is nothing wrong if you want to use WordPress, but it may not be the best choice for your particular website. Every organization needs something different, whether that difference comes down to personal tastes or what resources are available. Here are some tips and factors to consider for your website so you can get the CMS that is just right for you.
1. Figure out why you want a website
Different CMSs are built for different websites. For example, an e-commerce website should consider Magneto.
In addition to figuring out why you want to build a website, you need to define what constitutes a successful website. For most websites, simply attracting visitors is enough. But if you are running an online business or charity, you want to measure how much money you are receiving from the business. While this may seem to be a basic step, knowing what you want from your website is the first step to determining what CMS will work.
2. Understand open source vs. proprietary CMS
There are many different CMSs out there, but they can be generally divided into free, open-source CMSs like WordPress or Joomla or paid, proprietary CMS like Ghost or LightCMS.
You may think that the paid CMS will be better than a free one, but that is not the case. In fact, open-source CMSs are generally more flexible, have more design choices, and are more affordable. The catch is that an open-source CMS is a general template that is suitable for a vast array of websites, while a proprietary CMS can be customized for your specific design or business. Also, a proprietary CMS is normally safer.
Cypress North has a good guide if you are still unsure whether to pay or not. But in general, go for an open-source website if your organization is completely new and you are unsure about what you want the website to look like. Open source CMSs like WordPress are best if you want to set up a blog. Use a proprietary CMS if you are in a more niche field, know exactly what the website’s design should be, and have the cash available.
3. How easy is it to use and restrict?
If you have some computer expertise and are the only person managing your website, then you can use a more complicated CMS. But if you have multiple users and editors, then you need a CMS that is more user-friendly. In this regard, WordPress is a good starting point for your website, as you can figure out what your peers are capable of doing or not doing and adjusting your website and its coding appropriately.
But while you want a CMS that your peers can use easily, you also need to be able to control who can post what as the website grows larger.
For example, a news website may have bloggers who can post an article, but only after an editor checks over and approves it. Make sure that the CMS allows for multiple roles and different kinds of permissions, enabling you to limit where users can post.
4. Check the search function
When someone visits your website looking for relevant content, they will often hit your website’s search engine to find something they are interested in. It’s most likely that 30 percent of site visitors will use a website’s search bar on their first visit.((Agility: Why it’s Important to Have a Search Bar On Your Site—And How to Leverage It))
This obviously means that you want to make sure your CMS has a search bar option, but that is not enough. Make sure that the search has good speed, checks all of your website to find relevant content, and understand how it shows its rankings. If you are using an open-source CMS, look at search plug-in options that can give users more advanced search criteria or speed up searching.
5. Understand the relationship between CMS and SEO
Every website wants to attract people, and a strong SEO strategy is critical towards getting viewers. Consequently, any CMS must have options that can help your website on the search rankings.
Some things to consider are the URLs, as you want your web pages to read well. Also check to make sure that the CMS will let you customize page title, keywords, and the meta description. Higher Visibility also has some good pieces of advice for other ways which your website’s CMS can improve your SEO such as breadcrumb navigation and a 301 redirect.
Featured photo credit: Andrew Abogado via flickr.com