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In CMS Fundamentals, James Williamson defines content management systems (CMSs) and explains their role in web site development. The course demonstrates the different CMS solutions available today, including WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla; reviews CMS terminology and best practices; and shows how to develop a content management strategy. Guidelines are also included for evaluating a potential CMS, whether hosted or self-hosted, open source or proprietary, and choosing a CMS based on a specific need or focus.
I have one final piece of advice for you before we end this chapter. I know we've discussed a lot of different processes, workflow considerations, and migration strategies regarding content management systems; however, it's really easy to get caught up in the nuances and minutiae of choosing and integrating a CMS and lose sight of what's really important, the functionality of your site. Never lose sight of the fact that you or your organization has specific goals in mind for your site, and that a CMS should assist you with those goals, not get in your way, create inefficient processes, or obscure your content behind features that, frankly, you don't need.
Now this saying has been around for a long time regarding the web, content is king. Regardless of what kind of site you're managing, the content in content management needs to come first. Remember that people are visiting your site for your content, not the latest widget or your cool dropdown menus. As such, you need to stay focused on your content throughout the entire process and avoid common distractions along the way. When choosing a CMS don't let the impressive feature list of one CMS distract you from another CMS that offers a better workflow for your needs.
It's also common to get so enamored with a specific feature that you convince yourself that your web site can grow into it or that your visitors will really appreciate the extra feature set. Both of those things might be true, but if adopting that feature comes at the price of less flexibility for your content and a less efficient way to present it, then it's not a good trade-off. Also while all the analysis, processes, and workflows I've mentioned up till now are very important in successful CMS implementations, don't let them become a distraction from the quality of content that your site needs.
If you find that a specific workflow becomes too restrictive to content creators or that you don't have enough freedom to publish content in a timely manner, then change workflow. Make sure that no matter which CMS you choose you have enough flexibility in how you work to make tweaks to it if it's going to result in greater quality and greater focus on your content. Make sure as well that the workflow and processes that you adopt are suitable for your team's size and their abilities. All the site analytics in the world won't improve your site's quality if you spend the majority of your time bogged down in workflow checklists and web analytic tools.
Those processes should support the creation of content. And if they get in your way, find a way to scale them back and modify them in a way that allows you to keep your focus on creating great content. I guess the best way that I can sum this up is to be very clear about what you expect your CMS to do and what you expect from your team. Be realistic in your goals and don't expect a CMS to be a cure-all for every workflow problem that you encounter. A content management system is just another tool in your chest, and its role is to help you build and maintain engaging online experiences.
As with any tool, it's only as good as the artisan that wields it. Take the time to learn your CMS's capabilities. Make sure you clearly state your goals at the beginning of the project and stay focused on the user experience and quality of the content. Those three steps alone will do more to ensure a successful CMS integration than all the checklists in the world.
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