Every website owner, before ordering a website, faces a dilemma: whether to use a professional developer’s services or try one of the ready-made solutions that content management systems offer.
It’s a fight between web developers and ready-made website builders: who offers a more comfortable option for creating a fully-functional website that is easy to manage, customize and that looks great on any device? Professionals blame CMSs for providing low-quality code and site vulnerabilities. Website builders strike back, citing the high prices for websites made by studios.
The reality is that both are great, if they offer the answer to a customer’s problem. Most issues with a CMS happen when service providers give carte blanche to inexperienced users. However, even such cases can be solved with a professional support, or development team services any CMS’ user can ask for.
A CMS’s goal, as it’s clear from their acronym, is providing users with the opportunity to manage their website content without external help. Many modern CMSs offer ready-made solutions for multiple kinds of websites, online stores, blogs, and businesses.
The problem is the people who take those, mostly beautiful, templates from service providers and start changing everything to “customize” a website to their own taste. Customization is not an issue, but there are things (like the color palette, code, and some other elements) that should not be changed by inexperienced users.
A CMS can be a useful, comfy way to run a site.
1) CMSs offer a great variety of templates
Modern website building systems produce great-looking templates that are easy to manage or tweak to achieve a unique design with minimum effort. Gone are those times when CMS was used only by small businesses or amateur bloggers. Today even large companies use content management systems like WordPress, or even Squarespace to run their blogs, create landing pages or separate websites for specific brands, categories or collections of products.
For example: HBO’s Game of Thrones social media campaign site is built on Squarespace.
2) Managing multiple pages is a breeze
Adding a new page in a properly designed and coded CMS is a no-brainer. Such systems allow creating pages with an automatic url and a clean code in a few clicks. E.g. a WP admin panel automatically generates an URL for a page from its title. And an owner can customize this URL before publishing a page to make it shorter or more competitive, remove unnecessary symbols or numbers from it.
One of the major pitfalls that can happen to a multiple-page websites is issues with its architecture. Any website owner should take care of its IA and build a structure that is easy to maintain and is clear for users. Make sure the CMS you’ve chosen offers setting up parent categories and sub-categories categories easily.
3) WYSIWYG editors offer easy customization
When WYSIWYG editors and website builders appeared, there were many conversations about their proper use. Daryl Coopersmith in one of his reports for WorldCamp 2009 made a statement that visual editors are rather What You See Is What You Kind Of Get editors (WYSIWYkoG).
Since then, visual editors evolved greatly. There are many tools, website builders, and other services (e.g. MailChimp), that use visual drag-and-drop editors to let users create websites or customize designs. With really well-made website builders you get the exact results you see inside your admin panel.
WYSIWYG allow users without coding skills tweak designs to achieve the look of the website they need. Of course, there is a risk that users without proper understanding of web design principles or UX techniques will achieve not-so-exciting results. However, who said there are no such risks with custom websites?
Most website templates that CMSs offer are created by professional designers, so the best way to avoid spoiling the design to make as few changes as possible. In theory, the best way is to have a person that will take care of your website content without interfering with its design and layout.
4) CMSs offer responsive websites out of the box
The responsive CMS is a reality today. Most website builders with a CMS included offer ready-made solutions that respond to all major mobile devices.
Thus, in modern website builders, you will definitely see a panel like this that already shows what template looks like on tablet and smartphone. Squarespace, Webflow, and many others offer their users responsive-out-of-the-shelf templates that look cool on smaller screens. MotoCMS goes even further. It allows tweaking all values and additional settings for tablet and smartphone layout to make images, texts, menus look more harmonious on portable devices.
With the right CMS, you can see how your future website will perform on various devices instantly.
5) Loading speed is not a problem anymore
There are users who blame content management systems for slow loading speed and poor user experience due to this issue. In fact, loading issues can happen to any website, be it a web studio design, or a CMS theme, or a template.
Loading speed depends on many factors and the platform is often not the major factor in this issue. A user cannot blame CMSs for uploading images that are too heavy, or choosing low-quality hosting. If you follow Google’s guidelines and check your website speed with its Page Speed Module, you can see what exactly slows down your website performance and change it fast.
6) Most modern CMSs offer SEO-friendly solutions
First, let’s clarify: to have a SEO-friendly website, you need a webmaster or a person who will manage your website optimization (both, on and off-page). Or you should learn to do it by yourself. CMSs can only offer you a more or less comprehensive range of tools for setting up your website optimization properly.
Carefully explore the available SEO options when choosing a CMS for your future website. Some systems only allow their users to setup the page title, description, and keywords. Others, like Webflow, let you optimize pretty much all vital SEO options (like alt-tags, image descriptions), synchronizing your Google Webmaster and Analytics accounts to get fresh info about traffic etc.
WordPress, Joomla, and other popular CMSs offer their users handy plugins to take your website search engine optimization to the next level. The main thing you should remember here: no plugin, or even the most SEO-friendly CMS, will take you to the top unless you optimize (or have a person that can do it for you).
7) CMSs today allow code customization
I know, it’s not the strongest way of weighting the scales on behalf of the CMS; but for many developers that create websites for multiple clients, this can be a great option. In other cases, systems should provide code access only to professional users.
Sometimes these code manipulation options include only simple code injection to add some third-party services to a website. If a CMS provider has a detailed tutorial or tips on how to do it properly, it’s usually not a problem.
8) Setting up roles (designer, developer, SEO, content manager)
As is clear from the previous section, the main secret of clever use of a CMS is the role management. Since CMS stands for content management system, it’s better to allow an end user to manage only the content of a website.
The best situation here is when a user has a team where each member has their own field of work. First, it’s almost impossible to run a full website alone (if it’s not just a personal page or blog). If it’s a business site, you should have a team that includes a webmaster, an SEO professional, and a content manager at least.
In any case, CMSs work perfectly when the user has some knowledge about the Web, and their audience.