If you're known as "Mr. HTML" around town, but your site is getting far to big to manage manually, then you need a content management system.
"What exactly is a content management system?"
If you're the marketing director for a company, and you've discovered a HUGE pricing error for that big promotion on your home page -- but it's 2 AM Sunday morning and you can't reach any of your techies, then you too need a content management system
However, if you enjoy spending money to hire a "designer" every time you want to freshen up your site, or add a new page, or promote a new product; and you like to wait forever until they get around to it -- PLUS you don't mind sending copy back and forth for approval, changes, approval and posting -- then you do not need a content management system. You need a shrink!
So, what exactly IS a content management system?
It's a software program that is designed to, well, manage the content on your web site. What content, exactly? Whatever content you have including:
- Products specifications
- Features and benefits
- Product illustrations
- Product categories
- Special promotions
- Terms and Conditions
- Privacy Statement
- Press Releases
- Site navigation links
- About Us
Get the picture? Most content management systems have a big bucket, called a "repository" where all of your content is stored. You use the built-in "WYSIWYG" (what you see is what you get) editor to create or update pages. You don't have to know anything about HTML because these things work like a word processor only for Internet content. Bold, underline, change fonts and sizes, add hyperlinks, attach pages to a menu; it's all there.
"You can even manage work flow by notifying co-workers and supervisors that there is new content in the CMS waiting for review and approval."
You can also use your CMS to "stage" future content. Got a big promo coming up in December? No problem. You can create the content in June if you want to. Then, when the big day finally arrives - click - and it goes live.
Your shiny new CMS also lets you place images anywhere on a page and upload them to your site with ease. Forget learning complicated FTP tools, your CMS knows all and makes you look pretty smart too!
Prices for a good CMS range from free or shareware, right on up to nearly the cost of a full-time designer. The good news is even if you end up opting for a high priced version, you won't be having to pay those huge consulting prices for the rest of your life like you do when you hired an employee.
A CMS isn't going to make you a good writer if you don't already have the tools. It can't draw pictures for you, and it can't give you feedback on your advertising strategies. It can keep you organized, your site relevant, and let you get back to sleep 10 minutes after you find that big boo boo at 2 AM Sunday morning. And THAT is worth the price of admission to a content management system all by itself.
This directory is meant to be a starting point to investigate different content management systems. Most companies use a single technology for their web server, which usually then dictates what content management systems are available for that technology. Therefore we have categorized our directory by technology.