Published:09/02/2016

Do I need a Content Management System?

It’s a question we are frequently asked by new and existing clients alike. And when we aren’t asked it’s usually because the client has already decided they need one. But is a CMS really necessary or might it prove an expensive additional development that won’t meet your expectations?

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
A CMS is a web based application or program that allows content on a website to be updated or added within fixed templates. 

What can a CMS do?
A CMS is a great tool for websites where you need content to be updated regularly. It allows copy, images and videos to be uploaded without the need for a web developer. It’s ideal for websites that feature regular blogs, vlogs or press releases; photo galleries that need to be updated regularly; or websites where information changes. All of this type of content can be amended or uploaded within pre-existing templates, which will need to be built by a web developer at the same time as the website and CMS are created. So if you are looking for editorial control, within a set structure, a CMS is your answer. 

Having said that, making these updates does require that anyone using the CMS has a working knowledge of how to use it, as well as the time to make them. In practice it may well be that the limited time it takes a developer to make simple amends and additions is more cost-effective than training staff to use the CMS efficiently. 

What can a CMS not do?
If you are expecting a CMS to give you complete control over your website once it’s built, you are likely to be disappointed. Whilst content such as words and images can be added and edited on demand, a CMS will not allow you to alter the design of your website. If you want to change the navigation, the colour pallette, the layout or the structure of your site, a CMS won’t help you. For anything like this you will still need a web developer, and a CMS could be a costly and time consuming outlay that proves redundant. 

What does a CMS cost?
There is no simple answer. There are  a whole host of development options, each with their own pros and cons, and if you have specific requirements you will probably require something bespoke. One thing is certain, whatever your requirements, the addition of a CMS will be time-consuming and, more often than not, costly too. Even open source and off the shelf options often need to be developed to fit each website’s unique requirements. 

Summary
Every website is different, and there is no ‘one hat fits all’ CMS solution. However, there are some questions you can ask to help steer you in the right direction, for instance:
- Does your website require regular content updates (i.e once a month or more often)?
- Can your content updates be made within templates (i.e. blog posts that follow the same format every week)?
- Do you have the time and money to invest in building a CMS for your website?
If your answer to these questions is yes, a CMS is probably the right decision for you. But, it’s always best to make a list of your exact requirements and discuss them with your developer. It’s in their interest to have your website working smoothly and efficiently for you, so they will be happy to recommend a CMS if they think it meets your needs, or advise you to steer clear if they think it’s an unnecessary investment. 

Can we help? If you would like advice on whether a CMS is right for you, or which CMS best fits your needs, get in touch with the Rifle team.