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6 Questions To Ask Your Content Management System Web Designer

6 Questions To Ask Your Content Management System Web Designer resized 600

Are you looking for a website you can edit yourself? 

As many of you may know, creating a website can be an expensive and time-consuming experience.  The end result may leave you wondering what happens as your business changes? Will you have to go through all that again?

Having a content managed website means that you are in control of the content on your site, but just how much of that content do you actually have access to?

Important information like this can be left out of the initial communication when choosing a web design agency, and I wonder just how many of you ask these vital questions.  By asking these 6 questions you can save yourself a lot of time, money and effort when it comes to revamping your website in the future.  After all, your business will change with time and your website will need to reflect these changes.

1. What is a content management system (CMS)?

Many people still do not understand what a CMS system really is, and in order for you to use it correctly and make the right choice, you will need clarity on what the system actually is. A content management system is something that a website is built upon and is extremely user friendly to people who may not be confident with using computers. A CMS allows you to edit and update the information on your website, as well as add new projects and services you have to offer, without the need to contact your website designers.

Simply put, a CMS converts web based languages like HTML, PHP and other web coding language into plain text.  This means that when you login to your site to make updates you are familiar with the language it is written in.  Most good content management systems resemble Microsoft Word editors to make it very simple to edit and update your content. CMS systems will save you money in the future, as you will not be paying your web company every time you need to make an update to your website.

2. When my website goes live will I be able to edit it myself?

Many businesses hire a web design company to build and design their websites and to provide them with continued support after the site has gone live.  Some businesses hire a dedicated person entirely for this role. Regardless of whether you outsource your web design or do it in house, the question of whether you will be able to edit the site once it goes live is one that should be asked way before the build begins.  The reason being is that if you want a CMS system it will need to be taken into account before the build actually begins.

3. What Content management system should I choose?

There are many ‘do it yourself’ CMS systems on the market at the moment.  Some are even free. The majority of these offer a basic template for you to work on. The templates come standard with their own styles, setting up the whole website for you, meaning all you have to do is input the content.

These pre-made templates can be very restrictive and you will need to ask the question of exactly how much of the website you will be able to edit once complete. 

If you are looking for something more long term, giving you that little bit of extra ‘free roaming’ around your site, the key would be to look for a bespoke system.  Look for a company offering much more than just a content-editable website. Ideally you want a full content managed website with support in case you need it.

Look for a company that offer a content management system which will let you redesign the whole look of your website, with guided and professional expertise on hand throughout. Another important factor to consider is training. There are companies (JDR, for example!) who offer brilliant training sessions for you to improve your skills and help you become an expert on updating your website.

4. How do I access the ‘CMS’ from various places?

Latest content management systems are built online. So where ever you have a computable device and Internet connection, your website can be edited. You will be given a link which takes you to a log in screen, and a unique set of login details allowing you to access your website on the go. Undeniably, this is the best way to have a website set up, allowing access not just to everyone with your company building, but also for people working outside of the office.  This type of flexibility is paramount to small business website success.

The old fashioned content managed systems have editing software, which has to be downloaded onto a computer.  This way you are restricted to that computer when you want to make changes to the site.

5. Will I be able to use it even if I have very basic knowledge of computers?

A good CMS will have an easy to use interface allowing people to understand their way around the main sections on the control panel.  The editable areas will be clearly marked and be easy to find and click on. Sometimes you will also find little help tips next to certain links/areas which will prompt you on what to expect within that part of the CMS. Look for a company who offer telephone support if you are a beginner because then help will always be on hand if needed.  Some web design companies, especially the smaller ones do not offer this as part of their service as they simply would not be able to cope with it.  Make sure you ask about the level of after sales support you will receive when researching web design companies.

6. Can I integrate a shopping cart into my website?

E-commerce websites, as they are now known, can be built within CMS systems. This will allow you to add products within categories and various amounts of sub-categories.  You will also be able to add discounts and special offers for promotional items, set up your shipping costs by weight, amount spent, or flat rate charges. You should also have the capabilities to integrate some of the most trusted online payment systems such as PayPal and Sage Pay.

As well as these amazing features, some CMS systems will also allow you to choose your colour scheme and customise your shopping cart to your hearts content.

When developing an ecommerce site, special attention should be made to the CMS platform that you use to build the website on.  Remember there are a lot to choose from but not all of them are the same!  Do your research first; it will save you a great deal of time and money in the long run.

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Article by Shelby Norton

photo credit: Martin Terber via photopin cc