What is CMS and why is it critical for your website?

Last week in part 1 I wrote about the critical things to know when developing a website and the importance of domain names and hosting. This week I would like you to learn what is CMS and if you should choose a WordPress, Wix, or another CMS platform to develop your website on.

So let’s begin with some basics.

A CMS platform (Content Management System platform) is software that enables you to easily create your website and manage the content you will put in it.

Web pages are normally written by coders and programmers in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS programming languages. If you were to build a website without a CMS platform, then you would need to learn the code and one of the programming languages. Using a CMS platform solves this problem and allows you to make a website without writing code or learning programming.

What must you consider when choosing a CMS?

Here are our top tips on what to look for when choosing or deciding on a CMS platform.

Tip number 1 is a piece of advice if you are choosing a developer to create your website

Do not engage a developer who does not teach you how to manage your website in the back office of your chosen CMS. If they tell you “Do not worry, we will manage it for you” – Run for the Door! They will probably build you a website that only they can manage as they hardcoded it in their own template and you will be tied with them “for life”. If you decide to move your site to another developer, you will probably find out that you have to start from scratch.

SEO tools that will help you rank better on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

The CMS you choose should have detailed analytics or easily link to Google Analytics so you can and your team can get the business insights you need to grow your business.

Add-ons and upgrades

CMS platform you choose needs to have a wide variety of add-ons and extensions that make your website more flexible and scalable to meet the growing needs of your business. Make sure your CMS is scalable to meet the latest developments and accommodate your growing business needs.

Access and revision control plus backups

Various levels of access permissions is an important component as not every member of your team (content/blog writers, marketing manager, business owner) should have the same level of access to your website and its content. Also, you must be able to have control if someone makes a mistake, and be able to restore a backup quickly and efficiently.

Simplicity and usability

The CMS you choose should have a wealth of design options, simple workflow, and publishing controls that you can learn and easily use yourself.

Well supported

Don’t limit your CMS to an obscure or outdated one as you will need specialized developers to work on it and that might create some serious bottlenecks to your business and cost you much more than using a more popular and frequently updated CMS platform.

Access to developers and designers

Choose s CMS platform with great support from a company or community is more important than the software itself.

So what CMS platform should you choose?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions I am asked when it comes to developing websites. I could write a whole new blog on this topic but let’s keep it simple.

If you have a small business, hobby, or a passion and just starting your online activities I suggest you start with Wix. It is a beginner-friendly and has a free plan option as well.

Good Wix Features

Wix has a drag & drop interface so it is easy and quick to create pages just the way you want them to look.

It also has basic SEO tools that you should use and get yourself familiar with.

Wix has a wide choice of website template designs and most are mobile responsive so your website looks great on any mobile device as well

Wix is developing many apps in its Wix App Market and many are free so your site has new features and better user experience.

Not so good Wix features

When you choose a template you can not change it without starting from scratch.

If you want to sell online, you must upgrade to a paid plan to run an ecommerce store on Wix, and even then you can only accept payments using PayPal or Authorize.net.

Wix is very restrictive when it comes to downloading and exporting your own data from their portal. So if you are changing a template or the CMS you will need to copy and paste everything manually.

On a free plan, your website will have a Wix-branded domain name and Wix ads on your site.

So as much WIX is a popular CMS platform, many businesses including mine have moved within 18 months to WordPress as we do know that WordPress CMS is definitely better than Wix. Why?

WordPress.org is the world’s most popular CMS software, and it powers around 35% of all websites on the internet.

It’s important to not confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com. WordPress.org is a free open source CMS originally designed for blogging, but now it’s used by a variety of websites / online stores across the world whilst WordPress.com is a blog hosting platform.

This is what WPBeginner says about the pros & cons and pricing of the WordPress (WP) CMS.

Pros of using WordPress (WP) CMS

WordPress offers you the flexibility and freedom to build any kind of website (online store, auction site, membership site, etc) and edit/manage it yourself.

It does not require any technical skills or coding knowledge. The WordPress block editor makes it really easy to create great-looking pages on your site.

You have complete freedom to make money online from your website in any way you want.

There are thousands of WordPress themes and plugins available, both paid and free. These let you add all sorts of useful extras to your site, like contact forms, photo galleries, and much more.

WordPress is really well designed for search engine optimization (SEO). It’s easy to create SEO-friendly URLs, categories, and tags for your posts. You can also choose from plenty of SEO plugins to help you do more.

There’s a huge and supportive community around WordPress, as it’s an open-source CMS. You can join groups on Facebook to get help with any problems you run into.

WordPress offers a lot of extensibility which is what makes it an ideal CMS platform for both beginners and developers alike.

WordPress lets you download all your content in XML format, making it easy to move to a different system in the future if you choose to do so.

Cons

You’ll need to set up your hosting and domain name, and you’ll be responsible for managing things like security and backups.

Because WordPress offers so many options and so much flexibility, it can sometimes feel a little daunting when you’re getting started. This is why many beginners use drag & drop page builder plugins for WordPress.

Pricing of the WordPress CMS

WordPress itself doesn’t cost anything. However, you’ll need a domain name and a hosting account with a web host that can run WordPress.

So here you go. These are two CMS systems that I recommend you consider but if you wish to read more about a variety of CMS and how they compare, click here.

NOTE: I do not recommend to use Joomla or Drupal CMS except if you want to be tied down to a small number of specialized developers who are going to charge you an hourly fee for almost every change that you want or need to make on your website. Also once the site is built in Drupal or Joomla, it is not easily transferable to WordPress.

In the part 3 of this blog series I will cover the almighty SEO, SSL certificates, analytics and the price you should expect to pay for a website.

Until then….

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