Why a Content Management System is Your Best Friend in Web Design
There are plenty of different types of websites out there, all of them with pros and cons. At REM Web Solutions, we like to think that we offer the best aspects of each rolled into one system when it comes to building, hosting, supporting, and changing your website. I am going to list off some of the most common types of sites from worst to best, and then tell you a little bit about how our content management system will make your life easy when it comes to your website.
As a business owner or an employee, you would expect that your day would consist of doing your job, growing your business, and making useful connections in the world. The last thing you want to spend your days and nights doing is building a website from scratch. Not only do DIY (Do-It-Yourself) sites generally look extremely low quality (since the average person was likely never trained in modern web design and programming), but they are often riddled with bugs, hard to maintain or make changes to, and give a terrible impression to any potential visitors looking into your business. For these reasons, DIY sites rank worst on our list.
Example of a poorly designed beginner DIY site
With a DIY site there is no access to support if anything goes wrong. The domain management, hosting, DNS management, and content management all fall to the person building the site, and if this is you, this is the last thing you want on your plate next to everything else you need to do on a daily basis. You also don't want to put that kind of excess pressure on your employees either, who probably already have enough of their own work to do.
While the actual cost of a DIY site is generally very low (usually just the cost of the domain name and hosting service, as well as your own time spent building the site - which might be worth quite a bit of money anyways), the result is almost always exceptionally poor. You can usually pick these sites out a mile away by their poor choice of colour and text layout, lack of up-to-date information, serious formatting issues, browser compatibility issues, and just about every other issue you could think of.
Next, there is the cookie-cutter template website, which takes a matter of a few days to put together from start to finish. It uses a template, which means that in all likelihood there are hundreds if not thousands of sites out there which look exactly the same besides the words and links contained within. It is initially cheap to build, but does not have a means for the user to make changes to the site without phoning or emailing the company that built the site. At that point, it could be several hundreds of dollars and several weeks to months in order for them to make the change for you (and even then, it might not be exactly what you want!). The site may not follow the design or colour scheme of your company, and may even look like a competitors site!
Example of a template-based website
You can usually pick these sites out by the numerous obvious errors in spelling and formatting, pictures that have nothing to do with the company who the website represents, and extremely outdated information. You can't really expect more than that for paying a company which will likely only spend a few hours looking over your information, hastily pasting it into the template, and pushing it out the door as fast as humanly possible. Utilizing a site like this, you might have no access to emergency support, possibly no help with domain or DNS management, and might not even have a direct means of contact outside of an email which lands in a general support box.
All in all, you will get exactly what you paid for - a rushed half-baked site that is not unique or convenient for users and owners alike. It will likely only cost you business and damage your reputation.
Custom Sites - HTML5 - In-House Management
Next, there is the custom designed site with in-house management of content. This generally means that there is a designer and a programmer involved in carving out and building your site from scratch, and you are receiving a site which is unique to your business. Since it is built using code from the ground up, it is likely a lengthy process and may take several weeks to several months to design and build. It also comes with a higher price tag, especially if your site has advanced features such as user login areas, E-Commerce systems, secured areas, events modules, or a blog. This is because it takes time to build all this from scratch, and can be a lengthy and expensive process of testing and debugging issues. You generally will come out with a high-quality site and a high-flying price tag to match, which may be a downside for a small business.
Example of a custom built website with no CMS
The other downside comes from the in-house content management. This means that any changes that you want to make to the site post-launch will need to be run through the company who built the site (are you starting to see a trend?). This can come with a fee and can often take several weeks before they are able to fit the change into the schedule of the designers/programmers (especially in a small business).
There is the benefit of likely having access to support with a company like this, so if you did have questions or concerns you would be able to have those addressed. You would also likely have access to domain management, DNS management, and hosting services, although this varies from company to company.
Overall this option is middle-of-the-road, as you get a great website that is very difficult to make changes to in the future.
WordPress has been gaining traction lately among the more tech-savvy business owners, as it is a cheap DIY method of building a modern looking website. There are also companies out there which utilize the WordPress platform and will build sites for their clients using the tools available in WordPress.
While these sites often look very modern and cutting edge, they come with a terrible drawback. They are built using a combination of plug-ins which are all designed by different programmers. When building a WordPress site, the user must choose from the several thousand available plug-ins based on what features they want for their site. These plug-ins often cause compatibility issues when grouped together, and support for them can be fleeting, as once the programmer moves on from the plug-in it will no longer receive updates or compatibility fixes. Furthermore, updates to certain plug-ins may all of a sudden cause your site to longer be compatible with several other plug-ins you are using, essentially rendering your website (or a portion of it) useless until a solution can be worked out. These issues will exist regardless if you have a company look after it for you or not, as they have no control over these plug-ins besides choosing which ones to utilize.
Example of a Wordpress site
While it is often possible to login to the content management system for WordPress and make changes to your site at any point, it is quite often not laid out in an easy-to-follow format, and someone without a programming background may find themselves struggling to make simple changes, never mind large complex additions.
The support from WordPress is typical of your average large corporation. You submit a support request, take a number, and when your time comes your query is sent to a customer support agent who looks into your request and gets back to you. If you are lucky, this can happen within a matter of hours, and if not it could be 2 days before you hear anything. The next time you have an issue, you can be nearly certain that you will be talking to someone different and they will have no idea who you are. You lose that sense of recognition that you have with a smaller company who may know the ins-and-outs of your site before you even submit your request.
It is also not always cheap to use WordPress as many users believe. Some companies will charge tens of thousands of dollars to their clients for a complex WordPress site, especially if they are expected to provide ongoing maintenance or support for the client. The final drawback is the fact that if something replaces WordPress as a better option for DIY sites in the future, you can bet your bottom dollar that the programmers and supporters of WordPress will move on to the next best thing and your site will be left with no updates and no support. Essentially, left in the dust with a potentially massive bill for services rendered for a now unsupported site.
With REM, your business and website gets the attention it deserves from day 1. Initially you will speak with one of our Business Development Managers who will take a few hours to learn what your business is all about, and will show you a little bit about how [email protected] - our content management system - works. This is essential as it allows us to get to know you, what you want out of a website, and how best our system can benefit you. We go over the different modules available in [email protected] and choose which ones we should implement into your site to make life easy for you when making changes.
From there you will go through several rounds of design with our custom in-house design team to get your website looking exactly how you want it to look. When you are happy with the design, the finished concept is sent to our programmers who work on carving and building the website to look and function exactly as you want it looking and functioning. Once this is done, content can be implemented (exactly how much content is decided in the initial discussion and pricing of the project).
Once the site is built, our Account Manager will sit down with you and give you a tutorial of navigating your site, showing you all the pages with the pre-populated content that has been decided upon, and getting your final "OK" of the site build.
Once the site is built and you are happy with it, the Customer Success Manager will book a time for you to come in and take a training course on how to use [email protected], our proprietary content management system software which allows you to edit and add virtually anything you want to your new site. You then have access to support at any point in time if you have any questions or concerns about how to make a change or perform a task in [email protected].
Aside from the various modules in [email protected], the system also offers easy access to manipulation of Meta data required to influence SEO and drive more traffic to your website. During training we share details on the importance of SEO and offer some helpful advice on how best to choose and manage your focus points regarding SEO.
We offer DNS management, web hosting, domain management, business email service, enterprise level spam filtering, and technical support of our content management system.
At REM Web Solutions, we like to know that at any point in time if you want to make a change to the content of your website, you can do it within a few minutes. This is why we designed [email protected] to be easy to use for people of any technological skill level. There are advanced features available for tech savvy individuals, but they are not necessary for maintaining a top quality website. You can manage a blog, events for your business, an E-commerce system, secured password protected areas, banners, and numerous other custom aspects through this system. We even have an easy-to-use tool which will pull your content from the standard version of the page and reflow it for the mobile version of your webpage.
We believe that having this ability to make changes yourself to your site is an integral aspect of owning a website, and that it saves you vast amounts of time and money versus any of these other methods of website described in this blog. If you would like any more information on this or any of our services, feel free to reach out to us and we can answer any questions you may have.