Jan Leow's Press Blog

Which CMS (Content Management System) to use for your website

There are so many CMS software around which you could use to make your website, from free to commercial versions. For corporate company, choosing a correct CMS should be carefully thought out as it involves the whole business process. For home users and small businesses, picking a CMS system shouldn’t be a painful process. Each CMS software is not the same, though in basic, they should deliver the content in a way that can be easily navigated for visitors dropping by your website.

I have been using a few of the content management software provided by BlueHost using their provided Fantastico auto-install script. After testing out a few and banging my head trying to figure out how to use them, I came to the conclusion of just using Drupal, Mambo, Joomla, or Post-Nuke. Each has their own pros and cons.
The ones that I have used extensively are the Drupal and Joomla CMS. Though I was also considering using Mambo which is the predecessor of Joomla and Post-Nuke. In the end, after testing them out after a time, I decided to use Joomla for its many advance features and Drupal for its simplicity.

For the first time user, CMS are a little confusing to use and it takes awhile to get familiar on how to use them effectively. Help files do not always explain the functions well and you have to scratch your head and find out some of the features on a trial and error basis. Choice of CMS is also dependant on its popularity as well. CMS that has widespread popularity meant that you could find much information on how to use it effectively, you could also get beautifully designed templates to go with it which may be free or paid version, and you may be able to find various kinds of plug-ins to increase its functionality.

Having Fantastico in your Web Hosting Provider saves you a lot of trouble in downloading, installing and upgrading any software. However it does limit your choices to the ones provided. This is not bad though, as the software provided are some of the most popular ones.

CMS uses blocks or modules to separate the various section of a website. When you make your website, each block is used to control what is needed to be displayed on web page. For example, one block can be used to display the navigation panel, one block to show the latest news releases via news flashes, one block for polls, or a block can be used to display advertisements, and of course the main block for your content for your visitors to read. Once you have created a block, you can move it around the web page; you can shift it from the left sidebar to the right sidebar, to the top side as banner or shift to the bottom as a footer, etc. depending on the design of your block.

If you have many people working on the website, CMS can be used to manage the users logging in. You may grant each user certain privileges from simple content editors, content publisher or full blown administrator rights. Instead of allowing them access via your hosting account, using CMS you could limit their access to the CMS software instead so that they may not mess up too much of the website you are trying to manage. Granting them full administrator is rather dangerous, if the user does not know what they are doing, they could really mess up the website big time. Even if you are the only user, there is always the risk that you might mess up your website whenever you make some risky changes.

However using a CMS software to manage your website saves a lot of trouble making a website page by page. With the block or module feature, the entire web page is already set; all you need to do is to provide the content to make your website useful. It also helps to just let you concentrate on writing the important content as the CMS would automatically provide the linkage from their main page, section pages, or category pages to your content that you publish. In comparison if you are creating a website page by page, you will need to make the internal link by yourself, modifying individually the sections to make the connection to the new web page that you have just posted.

One downside to using CMS, though this may not apply to everybody, you will need to learn how to make backup and restore it. Backing up is the easy part, however since it involves backing up the SQL database and the PHP, restoring the database and the corresponding PHP software from the backup may be tricky. Especially lay people like who are not expert at handling complicated IT stuff. Nevertheless, it is very important to keep a back up of your website content. You never know what might happen to the web server. Sure they have multiple redundant backup, however you do need to have your own backup as well otherwise all your hard work would just go down the drain when something unfortunate happens. This is one lesson many people including myself never quite appreciate until disaster happens!

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