So, you’re active on Facebook and Twitter, and the Pastor saw you had smartphone. Naturally, he asked you to build the church website.
Or, maybe you’re like me a few years ago and have decided to take your website building skills to a new level and start digging into a CMS (Content Management System).
Here are the top five things I considered when making my decision:
1. Learning Curve
This was a huge one for me. I already felt behind the curve, since the extent of my web designing history had been the ol’ static HTML. I had to learn the CMS and I had to learn it quick. There was no time to drown myself in code. For you, however, that may be different. Learning curve needs to be considered not by what’s the easiest, but what you’re willing to invest. There are plenty of awesome websites running on various CMS’. There is no one answer. Take a look at what will be required for you to “mold the code” into what you want it to do.
Usability is about how easy you can natively do tasks. For instance, if you want a blog, WordPress has it already built in, while there are some CMS’ this has to be added. The same goes for uploading and managing media files. Some CMS do this right out of the box, while others have it built right in. What kind of and how much usability do want?
When you talk about CMS’, there is usually a focus on the backend admin area. However, you need to also think about how the user side will be. How easy is it to design the website? How easy is it to have custom designed pages within the website? What is it like to make visual changes? It also doesn’t hurt to browse themes that are currently available, to give you an idea of what can be done with it.
It won’t take long before you need some answers about your new CMS, so be sure to review the documentation that’s made available. Is it easy to search through? Does it make sense? This may also give you an idea of the learning curve, too. Think of the documentation as the user manual of a video game. Is it helpful? Does it make sense? Is it usable?
Finally, you need to consider the community of users surrounding a CMS. This is huge. Not only will this determine the number of Google search hits you find when searching for some help, but this will also give you an idea of how widespread it’s being used. Think of the community as the players guide for a video game. The community is where you’re going to find how-to’s and helpful people who have been stuck on the same level as you and figured out how to beat it.
Remember, most CMS’ you’ll be considering are free, so the only commitment you’re making is your time. So, it may be wise to download and setup a testing setup of your top two favorites to test out on your local machine using XAMPP for PC or MAMP for Mac.
For those that use CMS’, what is your favorite and which have you used in the past?
[Image Tim Norris]