The growth of Content Management Systems has been phenomenal over the past
several years for a number of reasons; one easily recognized is a need to
update the business website regularly and/or quickly.
User-friendliness can be objective (standard definition/best practices), yet can
also be a matter of personal taste in many areas. Appealing colors, read-able
fonts that contrast to background, navigation that is easy to access and
understand, strategic content placement, all seem obvious elements of a user-
Choices on types of color (can I get a witness to avoid yellow/green on
light blue?); whether backgrounds should have patterns that are intricate, simple,
or remain solid; the amount of content, all figure into how much traffic the
site gets and how long people stay.
To my knowledge the general rule has been to design sites to be compatible with
most commonly used media/devices, but with the proliferation of mobile and
tablets, not to mention wider monitors, “most commonly used” is relative. A site
that adapts to the device display is ideal.
What do you need to know to administer a CMS?
With a properly set up site you should still expect a degree of a learning curve.
After learning the basics you won’t need to do more than enter content — most
of the time. With WordPress for example, image uploads are simple and intuitive;
applying updates is a frequent but relatively easy task. However there is always
the possibility that you have to restore the database. This is one area where
you will need to work with other tools in your hosting admin panel suite.
The one thing you should not do is make changes or add things without
understanding as much as possible about the nature and consequences of
them (if any). If a performance hit or worse results, it is reassuring to know in advance what steps can be taken to recover.
One area where it pays to be cautious is in adding plugins. A plugin is a software module designed for specific or multiple functions depending on the implementation.
Too many plugins can slow your system down; duplication of underlying
technologies can cause a conflict and hang the system or crash the site. A host
provider may take your site offline (without notice) if they perceive “abuse.”
How much is ‘too many’? In my experience I haven’t found it yet (knock wood).
I searched the WP forums on this topic and the consensus is it’s only limited
by server resources and how well built the plugin is, and if they play well with
To date I’ve only installed on shared hosting and have used a variety of solutions for
In cases where things are going wrong or breaking, one of the first
ways to diagnose the problem is to deactivate all plugins (easily done with a
couple of clicks from the dashboard) then reactivate them one at a time and
test to see if the problem recurs, so the plugin at fault can be isolated.
The challenge, as with most everything, is having the patience and persistence
to discover what is possible and where/how to obtain it.
Consider the following:
Get training or train yourself in the admin functions of your CMS.
Understand whether your site is concentrated on information or interaction.
What screen resolution are you expecting to optimally display your site?
How many of your anticipated audience will view the site at that resolution?
Should you have a blog in addition to a “company profile” site?
How much are you willing to delegate?
This is by no means an exhaustive list but will serve to guide your direction.
The CMS approach is a welcome, expedient and robust platform for developing
your web presence, and there are many to choose from. Some are preferred
for different purposes (i.e. WordPress for blogging, others for eCommerce), but
with so many plugins and themes available, functionality doesn’t have to be
compromised and tradeoffs are not that hard.
Whatever you decide it’s always a good idea to plan for scaling. Make sure your CMS can grow with you and in what it delivers.