Content Management Systems Overview

From: Ed Zivkovic

Why I got a Content Management System for My Website

I never even thought about a Content Management System for my website when I first got into web publishing. In fact, I never knew there was such a thing.

I learned HTML and started building all my web pages by hand, one-by-one.

As I added more articles to the site, it became more difficult to manage the site because if I needed to make a small (or large) changes to the site, all these changes had to be made by editing every darn page one-by-one.

This obviously became a nightmare.

How can I keep adding content to my site easily? The answer:

Content Management Software (CMS)

Content Management Software is installed and operated on your website.

Content is added directly through your web browser which means that it runs completely on the server side. None of the operational aspects are installed onto a personal computer. It's all done live Online.

How It Works (basic explanation)
  • Content is added and saved through the user interface.
  • The web page is generated and published by the CMS.
  • The web page URL gets listed in the web site navigation menus.
  • All index pages and navigation menus get updated automatically.

Content Management Software Templates

The software will publish pages to the web according to a web template that you specify.

A template is specified by uploading the various HTML templates to the template directory on your web site.

Any time you need to make any changes to the look and feel of your web site, simply edit the templates, upload them to your website with an FTP program and re-publish all the content through the user control panel.

Most of the good Content Management Systems come complete with a variety of web page templates so you can choose the design that best suits your niche.

The better the Content Management Solution, the more features it will have. For example, The ability to select a template from the user interface without uploading new templates via FTP.

What is a Good Content Management System?

Easy to use. The less work the better. After all, we wish to publish web content, not be involved with programming tasks.

Search Engine Friendly URLs. If higher search engine rankings are important to you, you must find a CMS which publishes "static" URLs.

The SEO community agrees that "Static" URLs are better than "Dynamic" URLs when it comes to getting higher search engine placement.
    Example of a Static URL: -

    Example of a Dynamic URL -

    This is how the two different types of URLs look. When you see ? or = in the URL, this means that it is Dynamic.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Build a site like I did and then go around looking for a CMS that is compatible with my web hosting plan.

Looking back, what I "should" have done is look for a CMS first, then find a suitable web hosting plan. Because I can't "should have" now, what I do now is find the right software and then locate a web hosting plan which supports the CMS.

As a result of doing this process back wards, I have old directories on my web site which were build by hand and are therefore not controlled by the CMS.

The 14 Point Web Hosting Checklist is an article which explains this process.

Things To Be Aware Of

Cheap and Free Content Management Systems usually generate Dynamic pages. In order to produce Static web pages, these programs should be re-programmed if you know how to do it or know where to get someone else to do it.
    Sometimes, all that is required is to modify the .htaccess file. This causes the display URLs to appear to be static, but this only changes the appearance of the URL. It looks static, but the generated pages still come from a database.
I think it is much easier to to just buy a CMS which actually publishes real pages instead of displaying pages from a mySQL database.

Free CMS are usually Open Source which means that you are permitted to make modifications to the script. Some people sell free Open Source Software modified and unmodified.

Some Content Management Software Developers require that you place a "powered by" link at the bottom of all published web pages on your site. The link points back to their site.

    I have seen this with Free and paid CMS. In most cases, in order to legally remove these links, you are required to pay an additional fee. Sometimes this is more (much more) than the original price of the software.

    Please understand that there is nothing wrong with linking back. But, if you are in an industry where you wish not to reveal your secrets, linking back is not an option.

    If the software is free, expect to link back, (this is acceptable) but why link back if you have purchased the product?
Some developers claim that their CMS can generate search engine friendly URLs. The claim is true but pay attention to that word "can". This often means that it can but does not with the "off-the-shelf" solution. This is not a problem as it is easy to get someone to modify a script or .htaccess file.
    If you try the "demo", you will discover what the links look like. They are either Static or Dynamic.

    My opinion is that if a developer is selling a search engine friendly CMS, then the of-the-shelf solution should generate search friendly pages without any modifications. If the script needs modifying, then the claim to *me* sounds misleading.

Content Management Resources

If you already have a web site or are about to build one, you can investigate the different types of Content Management Systems contained in The CMS Report. This Special Report contains a list of Free CMS that can be used by anyone who wants to build a content rich web site quickly.

No Brainer Content Management Systems

If I only knew about Site-Build-It before I learned all this tech stuff. A real search engine friendly Content Management System and Web Hosting plan all in one no-brainer package. No link back required. Site-Build-It is ideal for getting started quickly, publishing articles to the web, and getting high search engine rankings.

Another excellent software is XSitePro. XSitePro can build you a fully functional web site complete with footer menus, site maps and link pages in an hour or two. Ideal for people who want to churn out many real web sites quickly.

If all you need to do is generate a single page sales letter mini-site, this Free Mini Site Generator will do the job.