Content Management For Small Businesses: Does My Business Need A CMS?

Many small businesses facing the decision of building a website come across the question of content management. In essence, the business managers need to balance short term costs and long-term usage of a website. Many business managers find themselves asking: “Should I spend more initially and add the right content management system to power our site? Or should I just get something out there and try to add it later?” The question is not always simple. For one, many business owners make the decision of upgrading their online presence too later or long after it is needed. Then after deciding to move forward on the project, the business managers feel pressure to get something out there … and quick. The details can often feel complicated and detached from the real world needs of the business.

For one, we feel that every business has unique needs… just as each business has a unique story and motive that drive it. Some businesses thrive with little overhead, while others are burdened with short staffing, lack of infrastructure and out-moded technology. So, when a company find themselves having to make decisions about an investment in web technology and a website, we figured it could be helpful to have a set of questions to ask and seek answers for.

Do I need a content management system?
If your company plans on making frequent orĀ  semi frequent updates to content or would like to more closely tie in marketing activities to the web, a content management system will be essential. Even having a webmaster on staff can cause delays with the gap between content decisions (editors and writers) and the publisher (web master). Updating and styling HTML can take time–especially when the request pile in… even an inhouse webmaster can get overwhelmed when making routine content updates. A CMS can simply allow for faster publishing and a better response to marketing initiatives. Website visitors for instance will be far less inclined to visit a website that is static and does not have frequent updates. Search engines also crave websites that are frequently updated–thus awarding them higher ratings and better positioning within their rankings.

What are the costs for owning and running a CMS?
The upfront and licensing costs for a CMS will vary from vendor to vendor–and depend on a large number of factors. Many small businesses feel compelled to go with an open source option, because there are many free software packages for content management available on the market. Joomla, Drupal and WordPress are just a few options available, and they are feature rich. Just because they are free and have a heaps of features does not necessarily mean that they are right for your company. There are other factors to consider, such as security, implementation costs, load time, update costs, maintenance costs, scalability and modularity. Free open source technologies can have hidden costs and long term challenges that may not be an immediate consideration in the planning phase of a web project. It can be a good idea to consider a couple optionsĀ  and take a close look at your needs and capabilities. Below are a list of costs involved with content management systems:

  • Licensing
  • Implementation
  • Modules
  • Maintenance
  • Support, training and consultation
  • Upgrading
  • Migrating

All of these types of costs can be charged as either a one time fee or as ongoing payments –depending on the vendor, software company or product. It is important to consider the costs beyond the initial implementation of the CMS.

Is it possible to have a hybrid system: one part open source and another part custom?
Yes, it is. Open source systems like WordPress can be modified and adapted towards a broad range of uses. For web designers, there can be a lot of fun in trying to figure out new approaches to adapting open source frameworks and platforms. For instance, Ironpaper has a few proprietary content management systems that we take a lot of pride in. Our CMS can integrate with WordPress and share data across the platform divide, which a number of our clients have really enjoyed. Even open source support communities themselves have long tinkered with hybrid integrations between different products–just take a look at the vast array of extensions, components and add-ons to a product like Joomla for instance. Content management design and development is a very creative process that can go a long way to building strong brands and better businesses.

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Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency and lead generation agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.