Breaking Out of the Chains

by Christi on June 29, 2010

Remember back in the old days when almost all websites were static and you paid a developer not only to create the site but for all changes made to the site as well? Businesses were tied to their web designer/developer at the hip and often were at the designer’s mercy. Well those days are gone. At least, in most cases. Sure there are times when a static website is all that is needed, but not very often.

Enter, the Content Management System (CMS). CMS is designed to allow website owners to easily change and maintain their site without knowledge of any programming language. Changes can be made from any computer with an internet connection and a web browser.  Making changes in most cases is as easy as making changes to a Word document. There is no need to call or pay a web developer to make changes or maintain your site.

However, setting up a CMS can be a bit complicated up front so you will probably want to hire someone to do the initial setup and this is where things could get tricky. Some developers create proprietary CMS so you can still make changes easily, but you are also still tied to the developer for any updates to the CMS or any additional functionality such as shopping carts, forms or social media integration.

Don’t worry though, there is another option. Open source CMS is available and there are some really great open source options. The top three open source options are Drupal, Joomla and WordPress. What are some advantages to using an open source CMS?

  • No licensing fee – open source options are available to download for free.
  • You can contract with any open source CMS developer to create your site and if, for some reason, something happens to them someone else can easily take over without having to learn a proprietary system.
  • Open source CMS makes it easy to implement social media and other web 2.0 integration.
  • SEO is enhanced because the coding is clean and adding content is easy.

The wider the distribution of an open source CMS means a larger user base and user community. The community of people work on the software, patch bugs, create add-ons for greater functionality, create new and better versions and more. And, the best part is you get all that benefit for free!

So what are some of the disadvantages of open source CMS?

  • Open source CMS requires more specific hosting. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal work best in an Apache environment and require PHP and MySQL.
  • Initial implementation costs may be higher. While open source CMS is free to download, the initial setup and configuration is more complicated than static HTML. However, in most cases, the savings of being able to update and maintain your site will more than make up for the initial setup cost.

While there are a lot of great open CMS options available, for now, you might want to stick to those top three РJoomla, Drupal and WordPress. They all have strong communities built around them. They all make regular updates to add greater functionality and all have  extensive plugin/extension/add-on libraries.

Those old days are long gone and the future looks more exciting than ever for business using the powerful reach of the internet to attract new customers and grow their business!

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