Why Does a Small Business Need a CMS?

Since most small business owners are completely satisfied with opening and publishing their Websites with Frontpage or Dreamweaver, I thought it time to consider exactly what would motivate a small business to port their adequate Website over to a content management system (CMS)?

You know it’s time to get a Web CMS when…

Reason #1: Your Web content has become “unruly”

    Your site is only as good as it’s content, and when your Website become too large with static (.html) pages, the result is pages that become too long (poor readability), out of date and out of context. Links to other internal pages may be inconsistent. In the end, Web users will find it difficult to pinpoint information on the site.

    Since CMS’s are designed in a content-centric manner, site navigation, categories and site-mapping logically result. Thus, there is less need for redundant site maintence tasks, and users are able to access and intuitively find information.

Reason #2: You need enhanced or improved functionality

    Another motivating factor for moving to a CMS, is that your site lacks required functionality. You may wish the site could easily be extended with features like security controls, discussion forums, keyword searching, a feedback system or the ability to easily syndicate content to and from other sources (ie; news feeds).

    Since most CMS’s are dynamically driven, features like knowledge management (FAQ lists, customer support, CRM, feedback systems, article management, searching, metadata, archiving) and user management (member login, registration, role-based security) are often inclusive to the CMS features. Some content management systems even offer extended features for collaboration (forums, calendar) and e-commerce (shopping carts, payment gateway) initiatives.

Reason #3: You want the experts to publish their own content

    Website content doesn’t get updated effectively when their are administrative bottlenecks. Often, the person that understands A, doesn’t know about B, but knowledge of A and B may be required to get content up-to-date on the site.

    Web Content management systems can eliminate the bottlenecks associated with delivery, formatting, and editing of site’s content. Content authors, editors, and Web administrators can all “work” on the site instead of waiting for each other.

Reason #4: You want to more frequently update the site — anytime, anywhere

    Many sites go without basic content updates because there are too many technical obstacles along the way. You may find your content is ready for the site, but the site is not ready for your content. There may be issues with FTP access or scheduling that prevent you from updating the site on a consistent basis. For businesses that have a remote or distributed staff, the site is not updated because the Web authoring software (Frontpage, Dreamweaver, FTP, etc..) is not convenient or accessible. Simple updates to static sites are often time consuming and tedious, so the site goes without updates.

    A good CMS will simplify the time and procedure required to post a content update. Rather than having to know HTML code, or duplicate existing pages, a CMS will provide an intuitive means to add and edit content. A CMS will let the content provider (author) easily format content, and define when and where to publish the content on the site. Most Web CMS tools provide Web-based tools to manage and update the site. This makes secure site updates possible without the use of desktop Web authoring and FTP software.

Reason #5: You need more consistent templating or navigation

    Another obstacle to Website management can be the site’s structure or user interface (UI). There may be multiple menus, sections, images or sub-folders that complicate making changes to one area without breaking another.

    Most content management systems separate the “design layer” from the “business logic” layer. This enables you to update site content without creating an entirely new Web page with images, menus and sitewide links. Often CMS navigation (menus) are dynamically driven which means menu labels and related links may get automatically updated when you add new content. Since design and content is separated, future updates to the look-and-feel of the site can be made without having to “redo” or lose all of the content.

Reason #5: You need improved search engine rank (SEO)

    Your site’s .html pages may be indexed by Yahoo! and Google, but you want to drive traffic based on specific keywords and phrases that are in line with your marketing objectives. The quality and format of your site’s content is critical to optimizing your site’s placement in the search engines.

    Many CMS tools focus on SEO and have search engine friendly tricks “built-in”. Some of these SEO tricks include, page titles, meta tags (keywords and description), descriptive hyperlinks, permalinks and optimized filenames that are automatically generated from your site’s content. By optimizing each page, search engines can more accurately read and index your site, resulting in better search engine placement.

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