Content Management: Think Before You Implement

By Deane Barker

On Managing Content and Content Management Systems (CMS): This guy makes a great point here:

I have yet to see one [CMS] that is anywhere worth the amount of money and time needed to get it into place and often times, for many reasons, a CMS can actually make a site worse. Most times, unless you have lots of money and lots of people, a CMS is not the way to go. If you are thinking about going with a CMS, think long and hard before you decide to go that route. I know of too many folks who jumped in and ended up really regretting it.

My recommendation for implementing a CMS is along the same lines. First, manage your content manually for as long as it takes to “settle” – fall into a defined format and process. You may find that you don’t even need content management and that you can maintain it manually just fine.

Second, only implement content management at your points of pain – perhaps just small parts of your site need content management, and the rest can be managed manually. There’s no law that says everything has to be in a database.

One site that I maintain is actually a big FrontPage Web. All the “content” pages are done in FrontPage as normal HTML, since they’re all structured very differently and FrontPage’s WYSIWYG editing and automation are perfectly suited for this. Then, when a page is completed, a record for the page, with some meta information, is put into a database which is used to make sortable, filterable index pages of all the content.

We’ve thought about making the content pages dynamic by running them off an expanded database, but why? They’re simple to create and with proper use of include files and CSS we have yet to have a problem with keeping them maintained and consistent. The site works beautifully the way it is.

Content management is great, but it’s not the answer for everything. Before CMS, there was HTML, and it still works just fine.

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