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Content Management (CMS) -The Kiss of Death?

webdesignThe aim of this article is to talk openly about the restrictions that having a content management system can have on your online marketing and ultimately the success of your business. CMS is sold by web designers as the perfect post launch package but is that really true? Lets take a look at the realities of CMS.

The ability for a site owner to control their own content is nothing new and there are 1000’s of off the shelf content management systems (CMS) out there for developers to use to enable clients to, at various levels control their own content. ‘That’s great’ you might say, ‘who needs to hire a web developer to make changes to a site when I can do it myself?’

More worryingly it also implies that the skill sets of the original designer can be imparted onto the client simply because they now have control

The problem with the ‘who needs to hire a web developer to make changes’ question is that it assumes that a) A CMS system can do everything your original developer can do and will update a website perfectly, it’s fool proof after all …. isn’t it? B) More worryingly It also implies that the skill sets of the original designer can be imparted onto the client simply because they now have control.

I’ve yet to see a CMS system that updates any and every part of a site perfectly and with ease, that’s because it simply doesn’t exist.

When I talk about CMS what I really mean is control and addition of the content pages such as ‘about us’ or ‘home page’ etc. I’m not talking about blogging or e-commerce. It goes without saying that for e-commerce and a blog to be effective the client has to have control but that comes with restrictions. Restrictions put in place by a good developer to make sure the site stays looking how it should.

If you’re reading this and thinking ‘What, CMS doesn’t actually give me total control of my site and let me make updates to anything?’ then you’d be absolutely right, Many people don’t realise this. CMS actually can be quite restrictive because to build in a CMS to a website there are many considerations to be made especially with the design.

Put simply it’s an expert updating the site expertly.

When a designer knows they will have post launch control over a site they can do whatever as they know that they and only they will have to update it. Put simply it’s an expert updating the site expertly. If you know that this isn’t the case then you have to factor things in.

Now with all that in mind there are several ways in which content can be updated on a website:

  1. No CMS but you update it yourself as you have some html ‘know how’
  2. The people that built the site update it for you
  3. The people that build the site include a CMS and you update it yourself via that
  4. You are big enough to have an internal dedicated member of staff to look after the site updates (a techy)

Now in the case of point 1 then so be it but either the user is a time served expert online web designer or they aren’t. If they are then why are they hiring a web designer to build the site in the first place, with maybe the exception of time constraints? If they aren’t then should they really be fiddling with it after it’s been perfectly made and is live? You don’t service your car when you don’t know your spark plug from your sink plug so why would you jeopardise your online marketing strategy by playing with your website content?

Point 3; Ok so you have a CMS system, you have control of all or some of your site. Here’s the thing. Here’s the little question or questions that have been bugging me for the past few months:

  1. If only simple text updates are needed now and again (and remember I’m not including a blog or e-commerce here) then surely any good web design company would be more than happy to do it?

    ‘Why?’, I hear the website companies scream. Well, it takes less than a minute of your time and it’s an excellent way to keep in touch with your clients and keep them sweet. A happy client will steer happy prospects in your direction. If you still think it’s justified to charge £50 to change a typo then either you probably wont be in business for much longer or your traditional advertising expenditure must be huge due to the lack of referrals from happy clients.

  2. So with that in mind and here’s the crux of my article. Why would a client pay a lot of money to a web design company to come up with their online marketing master piece only for them to launch it and then someone with no web design or marketing knowledge take over?
  3. Are we as web design companies doing our clients a disservice by offering and in some cases pushing CMS to clients as a ‘good idea’? When you think about it is it really a good idea to give control back to the client which is comparable to handing the steering wheel of a car over to someone who can’t drive?

So is CMS in the wrong hands spelling the kiss of death for businesses as online marketing becomes so important and in many cases the sole revenue stream?

What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear them below. Please leave a comment.

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