Content Management systems and building new websites

31 05 2011

Quite often I get asked to help out with new website builds and to help evaluate various technologies for new websites. This is a difficult task as it can be a large and complex market out there for content management systems, for website technologies and for choosing what tools to use to build your website.

There are so many options out there and everyone will have an opinion on what you should use so my best advice to you is to –

  1. Write down the objectives of your website. Are you looking at it from a SEO perspective? Brochure ware? Online sales? Content presentation? Customer servicing? All of these will require a different solution.
  2. Who is the target audience of your website? Are you looking at a large number of users who need clear sign posting or a limited number of users who will use the system regularly? This pointer means that you need to design and engineer your site in a way to appeal to the number of users.
  3. Are there any systems that you need to integrate with? Things like legacy CRM solutions or automated feeds (Twitter! RSS!) that might need to be displayed.

Now, review your requirements carefully. These are what you would be using to consider various solutions out there.

Bespoke Vs Ready-Made

Nothing polarises people more than this argument. The proponents of the bespoke system will talk about how your website is entirely customised for your requirements, everything can be done and it will all work exactly as required. They will pooh-pooh ready-made systems as being limiting and inflexible and warn you of unhelpful support systems. Neither solution is right and neither is wrong. It’s worth weighing up whether a bespoke solution is going to meet your needs over the short and medium term and as your website and business grow -what the longer term options are and the upgrade options.

Content population

Nothing trips people up more than suddenly realising that they need to write all the pages on their new website before it is launched. It’s a time consuming and brain intensive job and requires lots of time. If you are using a content management system, then you will also need to enter all the content into your website, again, this is a time consuming job and sometimes it’s easier to call in the professionals to do both of these.

Using Photographs to improve usability

Users are visual people and using pictures gives guidance on the subject matter that you are writing about. Choosing relevant and exciting imagery will definitely engage more users as they will be drawn in by the subject matter.