data compiled by W3Techs, 62.1% of websites are NOT using a Web Content Management System (Web CMS). Visit your favorite website (after reading this post, of course) and chances are it is not using a CMS.
What is a Web CMS?
Wikipedia defines Web CMS as “a software system that provides website authoring, collaboration, and administration tools designed to allow users with little knowledge of web programming languages or markup languages to create and manage website content with relative ease.”
There are thousands of
Web CMS solutions, from freely available, open source options to enterprise-grade, commercial solutions. If you’re managing a website today without one, you may be asking yourself, “Why would I need Web CMS?”
In this post, I outline ten common scenarios that make it essential to have a Web CMS.
1) The people managing content on your site want to be self-sufficient.
In many organizations, the Marketing team owns the content on the website. From the homepage imagery to the “About Us” messaging, the responsibility resides within Marketing. Like any organization, Marketing needs to be nimble and agile. So the last thing they need are barriers and obstacles that prevent them from making website content updates quickly and effortlessly.
In a past job of mine, Marketing owned the website content and I managed a number of the product pages. We didn’t have a Web CMS. Instead, the Design team (who created our rich and stunning pages) managed a folder structure on a shared network drive.
When I wanted to update a page, I’d email Melina on the design team. She’d make the change and send me back a preview. I’d review the preview and give the “OK.” From there, Melina would copy the page from the network drive to our production website.
What if Melina was on PTO? I could seek out one of her peers on the Design team and ask them to make the update for me. Or what if Melina was super busy (as she usually was)? My update may have to wait a day or two.
Or what if we had a Web CMS? A ha! With a Web CMS, Marketing (me) could make the update directly to the page. I could preview the update and have my boss review it. From there, I could push the update “live,” via the Web CMS. I become self-sufficient, while freeing up others (like Melina) to work on more strategic projects.
2) Your traffic is growing and you’re concerned about website performance.
It’s a great situation to be in, but a challenge nonetheless: traffic to your website is taking off. Unique visitors are increasing. You’re producing fabulous content, which means that average pages per visit is also increasing.
It’s all good, right? Well, because of all this site activity, average page load time is increasing and visitors are starting to grumble. If you don’t act to resolve this, unique visitors and page views may start to plateau, as users abandon your poor-performing site.
Here’s where a Web CMS may help. Many Web CMS solutions provide options to
increase website performance, such as page and module caching. This feature stores recently requested site content (and code) in “memory.” The next time the same page is requested, the Web CMS serves up that page directly from its cache. And that’s faster than having to regenerate the page from scratch.
This feature is smart enough to know when a page has changed. When that happens, it clears that page from its cache. And the next time that page is requested, the Web CMS serves up a fresh (updated) copy of the page.
Performance is a big focus of our's. Read how we're making
performance as good as ever in the latest release of our CMS.
3) You want to scale server resources to support your growing e-commerce site.
Page caching is a good method for speeding the response time of your website. As you sustain even more growth, however, you’ll soon hit up against another constraint: the bottleneck of serving your site from a single web server.
If users abandon your slow-performing B2B website, you may lose future customers. If they abandon your e-commerce site, on the other hand, you’ll lose revenue. How can you scale your server resources to meet growing demand?
Many Web CMS solutions provide a “webfarms” feature. With webfarms, you install the Web CMS software on two or more servers. The feature intelligently routes incoming website requests across the servers. So the incoming demand is no longer serviced by a single webserver; instead, it’s distributed across a number of them.
Webfarms provide “cache synchronization” (across the servers in a webfarm) which preserves consistency in a site visit that spans more than one server.
Are you an existing DNN user? Feel free to download our
Webfarm Configuration Guide.
4) You want aN Easier way to manage SIte url's
For Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the focus of a SEO strategist is ever changing. In years past, we cared a lot about keywords, keyword density and link text. These days, the quality of site content is more important than ever.
That being said, URL management continues to be important for SEO. Some Web CMS solutions provide convenient and easy-to-use
SEO features to manage URLs “at scale.” Instead of manually managing the URL of each and every page on your site, Web CMS solutions help you apply re-write and re-direct rules in an automated and intelligent fashion.
Just think of the time savings: if manually assigning a URL takes 5 minutes of time, then managing the 200 pages on your site takes 1,000 minutes (nearly 17 hours!) of time. Not to mention: the use of an automated tool is less error prone than having you hand-code URL’s yourself.
Related post: Colleague Bruce Chapman details 10 ways DNN can help your site’s SEO.
5) You’re growing your team of content contributors and want to instrument quality control.
Earlier, I referenced the need of website content owners to become self-sufficient. And while that starts with just one person, soon enough, an entire team (or teams) of content owners will come aboard to manage site content updates themselves.
While that’s fine and dandy, you may find yourself needing to instrument quality control measures. With so many people updating the website, the chance of an innocent error increases. On an employee’s bio, an innocent error is not the end of the world. On a pricing page, however, an error can result in lost revenue.
A Web CMS can help here, especially those that provide
granular permissions and workflow. With granular permissions, site owners can create roles, and then assign creation, editing or deletion rights (on sections of the site) to particular roles. For example, the “Sales role” may have permission to update the pricing section of the site, but no permission to update other areas.
With workflow, content updates can be reviewed by an approver before they go live on the site. The reviewer can approve the update and publish the page. Alternatively, the reviewer can reject the update and ask the requester to make specified changes.
6) You want to grow the sections of your site, while maintaining brand consistency.
Think of any website you visit. The number of sections it has today is greater than when it first launched. That’s the reality of websites: over time, they grow, rather than shrink. So let’s say you’re in growth mode and want to create two, three or perhaps five new sections of your site. Without a Web CMS, this can be challenging or time consuming.
With a Web CMS, you can create a page template for each new section. The page template defines the structure, layout and elements of a page and can be re-used across a section of the site (or, the entire site itself). They can also be made available to all (or selected) users of the Web CMS. In addition to saving time and effort, page templates ensure brand consistency. Design the template once, have it reviewed by your brand marketing team, then use it everywhere you want.
7) Your content team is growing and you want to institute change management.
You’re running an end-of-quarter pricing special, offering a 15% discount if customers purchase by next week. The deal will be announced tomorrow, but someone just published it to the website today. Wait! Who did that, asks the VP Sales (she’s upset!). Without a Web CMS, it would be difficult for the Marketing team to provide an answer.
On the other hand, a Web CMS with version control can provide the answer, along with a simple solution. Marketing can determine the user who made the change, including the date and time it was published to the site.
In addition, Marketing can view a comparison of the current and previous versions, to see the specific changes that were applied (side note: as I’ve outlined above, this scenario calls for the workflow feature provided by a Web CMS!).
Here’s the simple solution: you can easily “back out” to any of the previous versions of the page. So it’s easy to undo the premature pricing special.
8) You want to update your site with a new look and feel.
Your website looked fine when you had 10 customers, but now you have 100. Visitors now expect more from your site. If your website doesn’t provide the experience your target customer expects, you can lose credibility and future business.
You can always call a design agency and they can assemble a six-figure proposal to completely re-imagine your website. The other thing you could do is deploy a Web CMS. Most Web CMS solutions will come with a “default” set of skins (or themes). With minimal changes, you can use one of these themes to enhance the look and feel of your site.
Alternatively, you can shop around for third party (free or paid) themes provided by your Web CMS. Some Web CMS solutions have a marketplace of hundreds of themes you can choose from. Some are free, while others have a fixed price. The price you pay includes the use of the theme, along with customer support.
Feel free to browse through the
themes available in The DNN Store.
9) You’re losing visitors because they can’t find what they’re looking for.
As much as marketers like to think they’ve organized content super-intuitively, many times site visitors can’t find what they’re looking for. What happens when visitors can’t find the information they want? That’s right, they leave. Good luck getting them to come back!
How’s the search feature on your site? Does it help users find the information they want? Try this: find a piece of content that’s two or three levels deep on your site. Email your mom and ask her to find it on your site. If she fails, then consider how effective your on-page search is.
Many Web CMS solutions offer a search feature that comes with built-in “site crawlers.” It’s the job of these crawlers to find and index the pages of your site. Perhaps you don’t want particular documents or pages presented in search results? No problem. You can configure the crawlers to ignore particular pages, folders or document file types.
So deploy a Web CMS with a rich search feature, then invite Mom back to your site. We think her second visit will end with a better result.
10) You’re managing more than one website.
Think about everything I’ve covered so far. I’ve been writing about managing a single website. What if you’re managing two, three or ten sites? Multiply the manual steps, the complexity and the late nights by two, three or ten. But you know that.
Some Web CMS solutions enable you to manage multiple websites from one “instance” of the CMS software. This gives you a single place to manage these sites. And, with some CMS solutions, content can be easily shared across sites. Let’s say you’re a holding company and your web team manages the websites of five subsidiaries.
You can create a module of HTML with an “About Us” description that’s shared across all five of the subsidiary sites. Did you hire a new CEO? No problem. Just update the HTML module and it’s immediately reflected on all of the subsidiary sites.
Life just got easier.
A Web CMS is not for everyone. If you’re a one-person team, investing in a Web CMS may not be justified. You can continue to manage the site’s pages, files, images and videos manually. But if you’re part of a team, then a Web CMS can be a worthy investment in helping manage and coordinate workflow.
If traffic to your site is growing, numerous Web CMS features (e.g. SEO,
caching, webfarms, etc.) can help you optimize performance and scale for growth. And that’ll help keep traffic growing. If your website is not using a CMS, hopefully this post has given you one (or more!) reasons to think about doing so.
Read more about our
commercial CMS, Evoq Content.