Choosing A Web Content Management Software.

Tuesday, 28. July 2009

Choosing the right software for your dynamic web content management is important.

There are tons of hosted and installable software packages out there that do web content management. Some good, some not so good. Only one thing is certain, you’ll have your work cut out for you if you choose the wrong one.

I’m going to talk about a few of the most popular open source packages that are out in the wild. Each are different, and do things differently. The one that’s right for you, depends on what your endgame is.

Just like a carpenter, different jobs require different tools. You don’t use a saw to drive a nail, and you don’t use a hammer to screw in a screw. So the first step in choosing a software package is knowing what you want to do. Let’s break web presentation types into groups first:

  • Static or rarely changing content, broadcast site.
  • Changing content, broadcast only site.
  • Changing content, news site with or without user comments.
  • Changing content, community style site, high level of user content creation.

So, now that we have some boxes to place our needs into, let’s look as some options that fit in those boxes as well.

Static or rarely changing content, broadcast site.

This is equivalent to a yellow page ad. Before you say “that’s not what I want”, let’s talk about businesses that fit this type of site. If you are a conventional community business, reaching a customer base that is within a 20 mile range, and your product or service doesn’t change, or go on sale, this type of site will probably be your best fit.

So, what’s the best software / service for you? Well, since the site could be plain old html, you could us Nvu. From the website:

Nvu (pronounced N-view, for a “new view”) is a complete Web Authoring System that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web page editing. Nvu is designed to be extremely easy to use, making it ideal for non-technical computer users who want to create an attractive, professional-looking web site without needing to know HTML or web coding.

Now, if you are looking for something that makes some more decisions for you, such as being able to use themes and templates. And have all the editing take place on the server, then you might want to slip into the next group.

Changing content, broadcast only site.

This type of site would be considered a one way informational site that has information that changes regularly. Although these sites can be managed by editing .html pages with a local editor, you might find that using a web page manager such as Website Baker is the best fit for you. Website Baker is a simple website manager that features easy to use templates. You will need a web server running php and mysql to make it work, and it can be installed on a shared server as long as you have access to a mysql database.

Changing content, news site with or without user comments.

If you have ever read a blog post, then you have probably seen a website content management system called Word Press. Word Press is probably the most popular blogging software on the planet. It has all the tools that you want if you are looking to get your information noticed on the net. It requires php and mysql, and like Website Baker, can be setup on a shared server. Be warned, Word Press is known to be prone to security issues. It is not unusual to see 2 or more security fixes a month. If you choose to use Word Press, make sure you watch for security updates. Oh, and yes, this blog runs on Word Press.

Changing content, community style site, high level of user content creation.

Ok, you’ve been on the web for a while, and you have lots of visitors. Or, you have a club or organization with lots of members that want to contribute content to the site… Well, you probably are going to need to use one of the big boys of dynamic content. Drupal is considered by many to be one of the best and most stable platforms to build a large community site on top of. This software allows for a huge user base, great user management utilities, allows access controls on every aspect of the site, and has a reasonable security record. Drupal has been around for a long time, so it has lots of modules and addons available for it. It has 1 to 2 security fixes per quarter, and like all software, should be monitored regularly. Joomla is also a contender for this market as well. Joomla has less features, which makes it easier to manage then a Drupal server. Joomla usually has security related updates one a month or so.

So, we’ve just touched the surface of what these different software projects can do for you. I’m sure one will be a good fit, but don’t be afraid to try all of them to see what works best for you. After all, they are all open source, so they are free to use, by anyone.

— Stu


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