using a content management system to take control of your own website

One of the things I like most when I build a website is empowering my clients to manage their websites themselves. It just feels great to be able to provide them with the tools they need to use their website, rather than just build it for them and that’s the end of it.

And it’s always easier than they think it will be! Usually when I ask a client if they want to have the ability to update their website, they panic and say OH NO! mostly out of fear. They’re afraid of breaking the site or not understanding how it works because they don’t know HTML code. But with a simple content management system (or CMS, as we call it in the web geek world) it really becomes just as easy as composing an email or updating a Word document.

WordPress as a CMS

I’ve recently started using WordPress as a way of managing ‘regular’ websites. For several years, I’ve used WordPress for blogging, which was its original purpose. But it is a very powerful tool once you understand how everything is built, and just about any website can be converted to a WordPress site without an issue. In fact, at the end of 2011, I redesigned and rebuilt my own website and it runs largely on WordPress (the only exception is my portfolio, and that’s just because it was already built and running outside of WordPress, so I left it as-is)

A great perk of using WordPress for content management is that the tool itself is amazingly simple to use. This helps with the nervous client who is afraid of touching his or her website- they just open it up and type, no need for understanding HTML or CSS or any other big fancy language :)

Custom CMS

However, even with WordPress and all of its benefits and plugins and capabilities, there are times when a custom-built content management system is a better option. Some clients prefer something built just for them, which is completely fine. And some web projects- online stores with a complicated product catalog, for example- may have some specific requirements that just don’t quite fit into WordPress, or don’t fit into it well. So I have plenty of websites where I’ve built a simple CMS that is tailored to the client’s needs. It is just as easy to use as WordPress, but it functions a little differently for that particular project.

Many times, the tool itself is a matter of personal preference. But the ultimate goal, in my mind, is to give my clients the confidence and tools to manage their website in a way that helps their businesses grow.

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