More and more economic development, real estate and other firms are choosing to have their websites built in a Content Management System. Probably because a Content Management System (aka. CMS) is an easy way for their staff (whether or not they are programming savvy) to edit and manage content on their website. CMSes allow users to edit content without programming knowledge: you can create web pages, make text bold, add links, etc. with a CMS. So it makes perfect sense that when you are investing in the up-front development of your website, you want an easily editable system.
If you are one of the many who have decided to have a website created that is easily editable for your staff, here are a few key considerations you should be aware of (and asking about) when you're researching CMSes or firms who use a CMS. Not all content management is created equal, so make sure you're prepared with the right questions:
- Does your CMS allow us to control security? (By security, we mean, does this CMS allow you to create password protected areas on the front of your website? Such as a password only area for investors, partners or clients. Does it allow you to give different editing privilages to the intern vs. to the person in charge of editing your website?)
- What kind of video and audio capabilities does your CMS come with? (Video and audio are getting more and more important to online marketing. You'll probably want a CMS that lets you upload and pop in some video or audio at your leisure.)
- Does your CMS support search engine optimization? (Search engine optimization--the art of getting your site to appear on Google--is very key to your success. If your CMS doesn't support this, it will make any search engine efforts you decide to make more costly and time intensive, since you'll have to ask your web firm to do them for you, instead of being able to just hop into your CMS.)
- What if I accidentally delete something in your CMS? (Some CMSes will allow you to restore a deleted page and some will not. Whereas you should always be careful, things sometimes happen. Having the restore option could be a great buffer for the possible mistake.)
- Does your CMS support maps and special programming? (If you, like so many economic development professionals and real estate gurus, are interested in integrating GIS/Google maps technology, you should find out if the CMS is able to integrate this technology in or if you'll have to manage it separately.)
- Finally, what kind of support is there for your CMS? (If you are using an open-source CMS, like Joomla or Wordpress, your firm may be having to go to forums and digging around in FAQs to figure out any problems that arise. If your firm has an in-house developed CMS, they may offer in-house support, which will always be quicker and most times also more cost-effective. You should also find out if there's a person on staff who is specifically trained to talk you through any questions you may have on your CMS. This person probably shouldn't be a tech, since the jargon could get overwhelming, but should be someone who knows the system and also knows how to speak to programmer and non-programmer alike.)