Designing Websites with Content Management Systems

What’s a Content Management System?

Ever wanted visitors to be able to register to your site? How about easily editing the content on your pages without having to call someone or adding a blog to your site? These (and a whole lot more) are features common to any content management system. Even though CMSs have similar basic features, there are still differences in the various ones available. The two main points I’m going to go over deal with getting your website designed for use with a CMS as well as how you will actually use your CMS to manage your site after it has been developed.

Design Structure. The first difference in designing a website on a CMS is your actual starting point in terms of the website?s design and content layout. You need to consider not only what your content will be, but where it will appear depending on the section of the CMS being populated with content, how much space is available in that section, and which sections of the CMS will populate that content in the same way from page to page.

Admin Control. The other important difference is the administrative side of the site that you will now use to create and manage content. This is an important factor that should also be taken into consideration since it has a great deal to do with how easily you will be able to maintain your site going forward.

Website Design

Joomla gives clients a lot of opportunities to browse and select from a large amount of available styles to get started quickly. For clients in a time crunch (or a budget crunch for that matter) this is a great way to cut cost and meet short deadlines. Once a basic starting point is picked, edits can be made to adjust size requirements, specific preferences or anything else just like a standard site. However, if you plan on wanting complete control over the design and layout of your site you need to invest more time and cost into a custom Joomla design. This applies to Joomla or any other Content Management System that suits your specific needs. Remember, this isn’t just an html design because a CMS code programmed to manage your website content.

ExpressionEngine (EE) sites give you more of an opportunity to have something custom built since sites using this platform do not use a template system the same way that Joomla does. The biggest advantage here is having complete control over the code that puts together your website’s design and layout without that code affecting other parts of the CMS programming, at times a challenge more likely to be found in Joomla. This makes your site even more SEO friendly (although Joomla sites compete very well in Search Engines) and makes building customized content management system based web sites pretty fast.

Overall, in terms of web design either content management system will give you the ability and flexibility to get a website design that you will be pleased with. The real difference between the two CMSs is when your site is built and it is your turn to manage the site.

Actually Using Your Content Management System

The difference in the way that you use your website between the two platforms is pretty interesting and can cause you to look at content management systems in different ways. A good example is managing content, adding new pages or any other functionality specific to your site. There are different ways that you can look at “pages” of your site depending on which CMS you choose.

One of the first questions we get asked by clients is “how do we create a new page?” and it gets answered one of two ways. With Joomla, you work with an “article” system that, in combination with the “menu manager,” is the main factor in your website structure. A new page is born when a new article is written, and a menu item is made that will point to your new content. You can assign additional content to the other areas of each page by adding “modules” to predetermined module positions. This two step process is simple once you get going, but the interface can sometimes be overwhelming for the less technically inclined. Still, most people catch on pretty quick.

Using ExpressionEngine is a bit more straightforward. Instead of creating an article, you are publishing packages of content that you can use parts of in any way that you choose. This makes it easier to do things like add content without having to also update menus, change your featured news feed or anything like that. It is also faster and a bit easier to do things like rearrange your pages going forward.

Content Management Systems Are The Way To Go

No matter what your need a CMS, regardless of which CMS you are using, the ability to add and edit content is going to be there somewhere. The different options are all there for one reason and that is to solve your problems. Whether you need a brand new web site, or you don?t have any web presence at all, using a content management system has quickly become the new standard for businesses thanks to the power and sense of ownership they give to their users..

The Author: