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About Content Management Systems

Content Management Systems are, in my opinion, nothing short of a God-send. The basic concept behind them is that they provide a secure environment where only the owner or employees of a particular businessí web site may login and change a potentially wide variety of information and functionality on their site.

A properly designed Content Management System (CMS) is extremely accessible. First, it does not require any additional software. Second, you can use it to administer (change) your website simply by visiting a special login page, then entering the appropriate username and password.

One tip... be sure you never include a link from the visitor portion of your website to the login page associated with the Content Management System. No matter how secure your site, there will always be hackers out there whose greatest joy is the challenge of breaking and entering. Donít make their jobs any easier by showing them the way.

When properly designed, Content Management Systems are very easy to use. Many employ a friendly little text editor that loosely resembles Microsoft Word. To bold a word, for example, you simply highlight it and click the little B button.

A good Content Management System is built in such a way that a unique set of permissions is assigned to each person. So the owner of the store might be able to create other site administrators, change the pricing of items in his inventory, see who tried to log in and when appropriate, switch the entire site from using Authorize.net to using PayPal.com, and so forth.

At the other end of the spectrum, the temporary worker that you hired to spend the day updating something trivial should not be entitled to the same high level administration privileges that you need. Instead, they should be limited to doing only the things that you want for them to do. A well-designed Content Management System can physically separate those various capabilities, and make certain that only the right people can access and change the appropriate types of information.

I would like to take a moment to explain why I am not a fan of using prefabricated Content Management Systems. I agree that they are sometimes necessary for small companies and very limited situations where a tight budget is the primary consideration. On the whole, though, I encourage our significant customers to use a custom Content Management System that has been specifically designed to meet their needs. Using a prefabricated CMS is like buying a double-wide trailer... youíre severely limiting what it can do for you. Youíre never, for example, going to be able to punch out the side and add on another bathroom.

A custom Content Management System, on the other hand, is the electronic equivalent of Henry Fordís moving assembly line. It specifically evaluates each area of need and develops a solution that takes the raw material available to it and transforms it into precisely what is required at the next stage. A well-designed custom Content Management System starts at the beginning, knows where it is going, understands what is feeding into each part of the process, and perfects each sub-process so that the entire business system works together in a completely automated and comprehensive fashion.

Developing a custom Content Management System is not cheap. As you can imagine, it takes time and superior planning skills to do it right. Needless to say, it is critical that when you choose a custom Content Management System, you also choose a web development company that knows what it is doing, and then does it.


This material is Copyrighted. All rights reserved. Linda C. Uranga-Norton, President and Founder, Urangatang Web Design. To obtain reprint permission or engage the author for speaking engagements, please contact the author at . All reprints must include a link to the author's website at www.urangatang.com.

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