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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.
One of the most common questions people ask themselves as they begin researching content management systems is, can I do this myself or am I going to need some help? Now bringing in outside consultants or developers can be extremely helpful in migrating to a CMS, and in many cases can ease the time required for the transition to a CMS-based workflow. It's also quite possible that you or your organization can adopt a CMS on your own without the additional expense of a developer. So how do you know which category you fall in to? Let's take a look some of the things that you should consider when deciding on whether or not to use outside help.
This is going to vary greatly based on the CMS that you choose. Now some systems are designed to be easy to set up and administer, even for those that don't have a high degree of technical proficiency; others require a bit more attention to detail and require specialized skills in order to get them working the way that you intend. In the end balance your technical skills against the requirements of your CMS. This will give you a pretty good idea of whether or not you're going to need some help. You also want to consider how long you have before you need to be productive in the CMS.
If you have the luxury of learning at your own pace or setting up an internal site that you can perfect before going live with it, you might have the time required to get up to speed on the CMS before using it commercially. Just be sure to be honest about how long it's going to take you to become proficient in the CMS. Always allow for more time and expect there to be some bumps along the way. Now if on the other hand, you have a client or a management staff that needs the functionality right away, you shouldn't hesitate to hire an outside developer to help you set up and walk you through the proper way to configure and use the CMS.
If you have the budget, this approach can greatly lower the learning curve required when adopting a CMS, and it ensures that you're doing things the right way. Paying a professional to help you learn your way around the CMS and make sure it's set up correctly can save you a ton of money in the long run. This is also a perfect time to dispel one of the most persistent myths about content management systems. Over and over and over I've heard that a CMS is a perfect way for a non-technical person to set up and run a complex site.
This type of marketing spin is the direct reason that so many organizations turn to a team of content creators, buy or download them a CMS, and then express disappointment when the outcome is less than ideal. The fact of the matter is that you need to be a web professional in order to properly configure, customize, or manage a CMS. If you work in an organization with content creators, editors, and administrators, but really no web professionals, you are either going to need to hire web designers and developers to manage your CMS or contract a development team to oversee the technical part of the process.
Of course, instead of going that route, you can always choose a hosted solution, or a proprietary CMS that has a dedicated development team behind it to assist you along the way. We're going to talk more about those options a little bit later on. It's also up to you to decide at what stage of your CMS development that you want to bring in assistance. You could engage a consultant to assist you in your search for the proper CMS, help you set it up once you have selected it, or help to extend or customize it once it's installed. If you bring in a consultant to assist you in your search, make sure that you select one that has a broad range of experience with various content management systems.
You will want to make sure someone is giving you a recommendation based on your needs rather than the way they just prefer to work. Now just as it's important to take the time to assess your needs before choosing a CMS, you should also honestly assess your internal skill sets in order to make the correct call when deciding on engaging outside help.
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