In the late 1990s, if you didn’t have a Web site, pundits would predict your demise. Although the hype behind the Internet boom has subsided, few question the importance of having a Web site. Today, Web sites have become ubiquitous and their value measured by how quickly they can deliver the latest information. Like a newspaper, the headlines have to change daily, or there’s very little incentive to buy.
While your company’s Web site may not need to have content refreshed with daily frequency, the nature of the Web, coupled with the expectations of Web visitors, demands higher refresh rates than most Web sites can maintain. Hence, the conundrum—how do you keep a Web site stable enough to generate a return on investment while also supporting the requirement for fresh updates and frequent changes?
Here’s where the concept of Web content management comes into play. Historically, changing the site data or content required authoring by subject matter experts (marketing, HR, etc.) and then site updating by a technical person such as a Webmaster—the bottleneck for all changes. The answer to this problem used to be the “dynamic” Web site, which is programmed to take data stored in a database and then process it automatically with a program to present a formatted Web page.
The downside is this solution doesn’t allow for easy data entry by non-technical personnel, which is why Gartner Research says, “Content management is one of the hottest technology areas for enabling efficient Web sites and workplaces.”
Content management is a means to separate the data from the presentation. Content Management Systems (CMS) systems allow end users to define what data is required without ever needing to have a technical person work with the database.
Designers create standard templates to determine how the Web pages should look, and then subject matter experts can enter the data that end users desire. Most CMS systems have Web-based interfaces that are very easy to learn and use, enabling non-technical personnel to update all content at any time. Higher end CMS systems also provide for approval workflows and automated publishing, which is useful for managing promotions, new product introductions, and other time sensitive communications that are ideal for the Web.
Built to Last
CMS systems provide a sound foundation and a lasting architecture that allow your company to change your content and the presentation of your Web site—without being subject to expensive future overhauls and technical constraints. The entire look can be changed without changing any programming, and all of the content can be altered without a Webmaster or designer.
CMS is the first and best step toward the goal of creating a Web site built to last. Better yet, the ROI for a CMS can be tremendous; it usually pays for itself in less than one year by eliminating the need for expensive technical resources to speed the dynamic changes to your content. IBI