The Case for WCMS

A victim of yet another mystifying acronym, WCMS stands for Web Content Management Software (or system). A WCMS is at it’s most basic level a piece of software, installed and running on a web server that serves as an organized framework for web site content which can include pages, blog posts, news items, products, images, video…just about anything you might want to include on your site.

Why use a WCMS?

The main advantages to using a WCMS:

  • Web Content Management Software puts YOU in the driver’s seat

A Web Content Management System is software that provides you the ability to maintain your website without needing any HTML or other coding knowledge.  You can update your content whenever you need to without waiting on your designer’s schedule or paying for their time.  If you can use Microsoft Word and include an attachment with an e-mail, you can log on through a web browser and use a WCMS with an integrated WYSIWIG editing tool.

You know your business better than anyone, especially more than whoever is maintaining it right now.  When it comes to new articles, relevant information, frequently asked questions, and ideas that will attract visitors and result in sales or inquiries, you need to be in control.  You take responsibility for the content on your website and a WCMS gives you the tools to make it happen. 

  • Having up-to-date content and a standard design will increase your visibility

If you are serious about having your website grow your business then you have to get serious about growing the amount and quality of content.  Whether you sell products online or provide services to a small community, your website can be a valuable marketing tool.  A Web Content Management System provides the means for you to grow your website and ultimately grow your business or organization, reaching a wider audience based on the value of your content.

Chances are, when your site was first launched, it was an experiment – let’s face it – when all this started, no one knew what the value of the web or how significant it’s role was going to be. So the first sites were built conservatively in regard to expense. Many were done (and still are) for free, by friends, relatives or dedicated volunteers (and let’s be honest – they look like it).

Having a friend or volunteer design your website may save you money, but it will also likely stall your success.  If your website is  out of date in the information it presents, or if your design is amateur or archaic, then a WCMS may be the right next-step.  A professional designer can bring your website’s style and design to a current standard, and a WCMS enables you to keep your information and messaging current.

Where are the Points of Pain?

The main disadvantages to using a WCMS:

  • Web Content Management Software puts YOU in the driver’s seat

You may have noted that this is also on the list of advantages and that both points are true. A WCMS is a container for all the stuff YOU put in it and therefore, the responsibility for learning how to use it to it’s maximum potential is yours. If you are a small business or non-profit, you will need to expend a fair amount of energy learning the ‘lingo’, how to navigate around as a content publisher and more. Some of it is fairly esoteric, ie: taxonomies play a big role in how content is organized and presented. So expect that exercising your geek muscles is part of the landscape. 

  • Server Administration and Upgrades

Not all hosting services (especially shared) support WCMS packages along with their underlying technical requirements. For example, if your site requires auto emails triggered by an event, there are configuration considerations on the server side that may not be supported by your current provider. If you want to offer image uploads to users, you will most definitely run into limitations on file size.

Once your site is up and running on a WCMS platform, you’ll need to keep your site software current with security releases as they become available. A number of WCMS packages have tried to make this process as easy as possible but it definitely requires a higher level of technical competence to manage – especially when something goes wrong during an upgrade (as invariably happens).

Examples of WCMS in Action

The lists are continually growing and impressive. Popular sites using common WCMS: