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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.
Now that we have discussed what a hosted solution is, let's take a look at a few examples so that you can get a feel for what types of services that you are going to find. There are so many CMSs on the market that it simply isn't possible for me to show you all of the options available, or even give you a comprehensive overview of them, to be honest. What I have done is to select a few examples that's going to give you an idea of the types of solutions that you are going to come across as you begin comparing them. By no means am I saying that these solutions are better than any of the other ones that you are going to see, or that I'm recommending one over another.
I first want to talk about enterprise-level hosted services. These are comprehensive, full-service solutions that offer highly scalable services, industry standard analytics, and often offer you the ability to integrate with other systems. Now typically, these solutions will offer turn-key services from site planning, development, all the way through the deployment. Now these services usually are going to want to speak with you about your specific needs before giving you a quote. The Compass web publishing system is a good representative of an enterprise-level service.
A much larger and more diverse group of hosting solutions are available that offer subscription-based plans. Now this is by far the largest group of hosted plans, and you are going to find offerings that range all the way from enterprise-level services down to small boutique services. Adobe's Business Catalyst is an example of a larger full-service solution. They offer some of the best features in the business, with comprehensive e-commerce solutions, powerful web analytics, and built-in marketing tools. The site-creation and management tools are constantly evolving, and they offer a tiered pricing plan based on the services that you use.
Business Catalyst is targeted towards designers and agencies, and there is a one-time partner fee and options that are designed to assist you in branding and reselling Business Catalyst-powered sites. Learn more about their services at businesscatalyst.com. Verb is another subscription-based plan that features robust CMS capabilities with a focus on e-commerce. Like many other services, Verb allows reselling, and also gives you the option of billing either you or your clients directly. Verb also gives you a sandbox where you can develop sites for free to try out their service and then upgrade the site to a subscription-based plan when you want it to go live.
Many subscription-based plans do this, and it is a great way to try out their services before you commit. You can check out what Verb has to offer at verbcms.com. One of the more popular hosting solutions is Squarespace. Squarespace is a full-featured hosted solution that presents designers with a modular way of building web sites. You can choose from templates and then drag and drop the features you want onto your pages to build your sites, plug in your content, and you are done. Of course if you're looking for little bit more control, you can design your own templates in CSS. Check them out at squarespace.com.
Webvanta is a full-service hosted CMS solution that offers a few twists on traditional services in that they have a range of services that are packaged to target designers, agencies, and businesses directly. In addition to the hosted service plans, they also offer full web design and development services for your site, even offering to create sites directly from your Photoshop comps for those who want to custom design but lack coding skills. For designers, Webvanta has a partner program that allows you to create your own branded portal for your clients.
You can learn more at webvanta.com. Osmek is a different kind of hosted solution. While not a CMS in its own right, Osmek allows you to store content for your sites in the cloud. They have a robust API that can serve content in a number of ways, including XML, JSON, PHP, and even directly into your own templates. Once Osmek is hosting your content, you can easily update, create, or manage your content through their consul. The pricing, although tiered, is a little different than most plans as well, as it is based on how many sections in your sites you are storing content, for not the entire site itself.
Check it out for yourself at osmek.com. Now both CushyCMS and PageLime are similar to Osmek in that they don't actually host your site. What both of these, and similar content hosting services, do is allow you to mark up your sites where you would like to have control over the content. From there, the services allow you to access and manage your ongoing content directly through their portal. These content-hosted solutions offer an impressive array of services, including image management, image editing, branded portals, and page creation.
See more at cushycms.com and pagelime.com. Finally, I want to mention a growing trend among hosted solutions. While many people want the power of open-source communities and platforms, there's a large number of people who don't want the trouble of setting up or hosting the CMS themselves. Sites like Drupal Gardens and WordPress.com allow you to use both of these powerful open-source solutions while still relying on a hosting platform to extend services and handle the installs. You can learn more about these at drupalgardens.com and wordpress.com.
I feel that I should also mention that most hosting companies are adding CMS and site-building options to their services as well that go way beyond the single click install. A quick search on Google will result in dozens of high-quality hosting companies with these options. Well, thanks for hanging in there with me. Honestly, we've barely scratched the surface of the available hosted solutions. Take a look at some of the services that I have mentioned here, test-drive them and then search the web for other options; you just might find that a hosted solution is the right option for your CMS needs.
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