cmsIn the era prior to search engines such as Google – before the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) was fully understood by web developers and the business world – Content Management Systems (CMS) were invented to help companies large and small easily create and maintain their web sites without having to manually edit HTML code. Wikipedia is a prime example of a site that uses a CMS.

The advent of CMS resulted in a rush to supply the many content management systems in use today. Some of these, however, may hinder or even prevent your site from ranking in the search engines. Each CMS is different so the pros and cons are different for each and every one of them.

CMS – The Good:

Certain systems are open source, have large development communities, and provide good SEO performance if they are configured correctly.

  • Multiple users can contribute to a website

  • Content can frequently be added to or edited on a website

  • Content updates are visible immediately

  • Users do not need to be able to write code but can easily learn the basics of HTML

  • Open source CMS’s, can be free or very low cost

  • Provides a central hub so all users can keep up to date on site changes

  • Allows uniform pages – so multiple users don’t stray from the overall design – thereby providing a more consistent look and feel throughout the site

  • Some provide useful and attractive imaging and templates

  • Allows the restricting of design elements (colours, fonts, navigation, etc.) thereby allowing limited access for users to manage text and images

  • Allows the sharing of information among many sites within the content management system

  • Once content is stored, it can be used multiple times

  • Built in features which include a link checker and spell checker

  • Information can be supplied in multiple formats such as .PDF files, Word documents, and RSS feeds

CMS – The Bad:

Sites need to have the correct business authenticators, heaps of relevant content, easy to follow navigation, the ability to adapt to search engine changes and anything else that improves the general user experience. Many of these criteria are still not as accessible to change as they should be using a CMS.

  • May not comply or be up to date with web standards and web innovations

  • Integrating new web services may require expensive re-engineering

  • Limited SEO (Search Engine Optimization) functionality

  • HTML editing may be restricted

  • Certain design limitations

  • Difficulty would be encountered in switching web hosts in the case of proprietary CMS’s

  • Website can look dated or can look like a ‘CMS website’

  • Cost – could be very expensive if building a custom system

  • Training would be required for users of the system which may be seen as a financial burden

So, as with most things in life, there will be benefits and disadvantages to anything you use. CMSs are no exception. While all content management systems have the same basic intent, they are each different in their own way. It is always advisable to shop around before deciding which system is best for you.

Contributed by:
Candice Turnbull

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