When building or commissioning a new website, one of the most important considerations is the Content Management System (CMS) you’ll build the site with. Get it wrong, and it can cost you a lot of time and money to rectify down the line.
“Our current site is too restrictive – it’s too hard to add/edit content”.
That’s one of the most common reasons we hear from charities looking to develop a new site with us. There’s thousands of CMSs out there, and the vast majority are outdated relics of internet history. If you can’t easily add/edit pages, change the navigation menu, choose a different layout template, add SEO-friendly data etc then your website is an anchor weighing you down rather than a tool you help you fly!
And if you’re reliant on the company who built or has licensed the CMS to make all your changes for you – then you’re a hostage to their fortunes. They may have offered to build you the site cheaply in the first place, but plenty of them have gone out of business or they charge a fortune for every change (if you can get hold of them on the phone in the first place).
Imagine having to pay an IT company every time you wanted to create a Word document or make a phone call. It’s nonsensical. Yet that’s the position that many charities find themselves in when they want to update their website.
In my opinion, open-source CMSs are so powerful and flexible these days that you need a very good reason not to use one. Drupal and Joomla are popular, but WordPress is the king of CMSs as it powers nearly a quarter of sites on the internet.
It has an enormous global community of users and developers – so it’s a very competitive marketplace. That’s good news for you because it keeps prices economical and the quality of service high. It’s easy to use, search-engine friendly, integrates with lots of other types of software, and flexible enough to grow with you however big or ambitious your website needs become.
Open-source vs Proprietary Content Management Systems
For a good description of the difference between open-source and proprietary CMSs and their pros and cons, have a quick read of this article.
Don’t like your current WordPress agency, or they’ve gone AWOL? That’s no problem as you’ll find plenty more out there. That’s true to a lesser extent with Drupal and Joomla. I’ve had experience in building and managing Drupal sites in the past, and I think it’s fair to say that they’re generally more expensive and it’s harder for you to update the site software yourself.
A note on ‘free’ websites.
We’ve been contacted quite a lot recently by charities who had applied for, and been offered an £18,000 website grant by the Transform Foundation. A lot of them had gone quite far down the road with them before realising how much they’d have to pay the IT company every year once the site is built.
I’d liken it to giving you a grant to buy a car, but with the condition that you can only fill it with their petrol – at a thousand pounds per tankful. You need to do the sums to be sure that you might not be better off paying a bit of money on a car that you can fill up wherever’s got the cheapest petrol.