More and more SMEs are turning to Content Management Systems (CMS) to create their websites. In this article we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of using a CMS when creating your website.
What is a CMS?
A CMS is a software to install on your server, which allows you to manage your website without the need for in-depth programming knowledge. There are many CMSs, but the best-known ones are WordPress, Drupal, Magento, PrestaShop and Joomla. Each CMS has a specific interface and functionality. Here is a screenshot of the “Creating an article” section of the CMS WordPress.
You just have to write the content of your article in the field provided and click on the “Publish” button to put your content online. You can also add photos and videos to your articles or change the font and text color.
We have taken the example of WordPress here because it is one of the easiest platforms to use, whatever your level of knowledge. Please note that other platforms also allow you to write articles and create your website quickly.
What are the advantages of using a CMS to create your website?
As you can guess, the main advantage of using a CMS is the simplicity it offers when managing your content. You don’t need to have advanced knowledge in programming if your goal is only to have online presence and communicate in a basic way.
Many extensions (free and paid) will also allow you to enrich your site with new features such as the ability to offer your content in several languages, include a contact form, share your articles on social networks and improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization: for more information, read our article “What is SEO?“).
The other main advantage of using a CMS is linked to the many forums for mutual help that will allow you to solve most of your problems and update your site without too much difficulty. CMSs are always evolving to adapt to the latest trends, whether it be search engines (SEO), computer security or new communication media (tablets, smart phones etc.).
Finally, be aware that a website must be regularly updated. If you use a mobile version of your site, the slightest change will cost you three times as much (or take three times as long) because the changes will have to be made on the site in computer version, on the mobile devices (“IOS” version for iPhones and the Android mobile version for all other smart phones). On the other hand, if you use a CMS, this update will be much simpler to perform and it will cost you much less if you go through a service provider.
What are the disadvantages of a CMS?
Although CMS offers a multitude of features, you will quickly have to dirty hands with code if you want to go further than a basic site resembling all the other ones. In effect, the website models offered are often limited and their personalization is not always obvious. It is quite common to want to modify some aspect of the design or to add specific functionality. You will then have to learn to manipulate the different programming languages before you can get the site you want.
The main problem with CMSs is that they are accessible to everyone and consequently the number of basic websites has exploded. You must quickly become an expert (or go through an agency) to be able to differentiate yourself and not pass for an “amateur.” Indeed, after long hours spent trying to modify a particular function, it is tempting to leave the site in the state you found it and to be content with its original appearance.
You should also be aware that even if it is very easy to make changes on your site via a CMS, it is even simpler to make everything crash by messing with the code! Therefore, even if you want to learn how to manage your site on your own, do not forget to perform backups on a regular basis or ask for help from a professional if you want to perform an action that is beyond your capabilities.
Should I go through a CMS or build my site from scratch?
If you decide to go through a professional to make your website, then you have several options. For example, you can ask them to create your site entirely from scratch, without going through a content management system, or you can ask him to use a CMS.
The advantage of coding your site in its entirety is the fact that you will be able to customize it without any limits. Make sure, however, that your programmer understands exactly what you are asking for. Also pay attention to extra hours adding up, because even a simple change request can take your programmer several hours to complete and charges can escalate quickly.
Keep in mind that you will lose independence if your site has been coded by someone else and you will need to call on them for any change or update. Although programming languages are universal, not everyone has the same method of coding and it is not uncommon for a programmer to criticize the work that was done by a predecessor, even using it as an excuse to raise prices or to justify their own incompetence in giving you exactly what you want.
If you ask your service provider to use a CMS, it will be easier for you to take charge of your website and manage it autonomously thereafter, even if you ask for help when needed. You can also easily entrust the management of your site to someone else because using a CMS is a common practice that any specialist will be familiar with.
It is therefore a personal choice to decide whether or not to use a CMS when creating your website. Generally speaking, if you want to have some sort of control over your site and possibly learn how to manage it yourself, using a CMS is the best option and most companies are turning to this solution, which is much cheaper than programming an entire site from scratch.
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