Do I need a Content Management System?

Why do I need a Content Management System?

CMSIn this article we considered the balance between design and content in a website and the importance of keeping your site dynamic and up to date. Having a Content Management System (CMS) on your website allows you to ‘log in‘ to your site and make changes. The simplest systems allow you to change wording and add or remove pictures etc. While more sophisticated systems (including the Open-Source options discussed in this article) can offer almost unlimited functionality. If you want it you can have it! Many businesses want to make modest changes to words or pictures on their website – the sort of updates that should take no more than a couple of minutes – but they get frustrated trying to track down their web developer and then finding they are charged significant amounts for even the smallest amendment. Having a Content Management System on your website makes day-to-day updates much simpler. It is possible to do many updates in house with only minimal training and no knowledge of HTML coding. Even if you outsource your web updates, A CMS makes most changes quick and easy – and cheaper!

Content is no longer king? It’s rapidly becoming commodity

Moving on from the time and money benefits of being easily able to keep your website up to date as your business evolves, the ability to manage the content on your site goes much further in today’s marketing environment. E-mail and social media offer fantastic opportunities to get your message out to your market, but they require a stream of high quality content. I’m currently reading the book “The Content Code” by Mark Schaefer, and in it he hypothosises that in today’s world of content marketing, content is no longer King! After climbing back on my chair thinking all I held true to be a lie, I read on and the point he makes is that today, great content is a must; but that is only the start! It’s getting content seen and engaged with that is the issue. So what has this to do with the issue of CMS? Well, generating the content needs to be easy, you need to be able to focus on the content itself and how it is shared and disseminated, rather than the technicalities of getting it onto the web in the first place. A good Content Management System is THE most important tool for doing this.

The power of website collaboration

As you might have guessed, I like content management systems, but as well as being an essential tool, they can also become a source of frustration! As you develop a desire to manage and evolve your website, it won’t be long before you start to say “If only I could……”. CMS systems are great, but at the non-technical level, they can be a little restrictive. This is where the concept of “Collaborative Websites” come in. by partnering with a marketing company that understands your CMS, when you to that point where you are saying “If only I could……”. it will probably not be a big issue to tweak the system so you can (especially if you are using something like WordPress). In this way, you can do as much of of the work on your website as you want and have the knowledge to, and bring in the experts only when you need to, keeping you in control, and costs down.

DIY SEO

To finish, a few words about Search Engine Optimisation. Gone are the days when you need an SEO technician to “optimise” your site. Technical optimisation can now be built in to your CMS. Focus can then shift to making sure that your content is going to get the position it deserves on search engines. This in now much more about covering the right subjects, making sure your content is structured correctly and contains the right keywords (yes they are still important), and that it gets shared extensively. Again a good CMS with SEO functionality (We tend to use the Yoast Plugin for wordpress) is a great tool for this. Build & forget is no longer a viable website strategy. The best way to avoid this in the real world is to have and use a flexible CMS to ensure that your site is where it should be – At the core of your Joined-up Marketing Strategy.

Design and Content – Getting the balance right

The balance between Design and Content What’s the point of a website?

I don’t think it makes any difference whether your business is B2B, B2C, Third Sector or even just a hobby, getting the right balanced between design and content is important. The fundamental point of every website is to engage with your audience, not just now, but into the future too; so why is it that often, getting a new website for your business is seen primarily as a design project? For most website projects the big focus is on getting ‘look’ using the latest styles and functionality to create a ‘wow’ factor. Yet most visitors to your site aren’t looking to be ‘wowed’, they are looking for your products, services or information about your company. They are looking for the content of your site, and they want that information to be up to date, so is there too much focus on design as a one-off project when the website is built and not enough on the sustained process of keeping your site up to date and relevant? Don’t get me wrong, design is important. A website needs to look the part and reflect your business ethos. However, once the site is built and launched, unless it is regularly updated, your site and your business will start to drift apart.  Your site should maintain strong, relevant, up-to-date content, otherwise it will not engage your visitors. Surely engaging your visitors is the point of a website?

A website is for life – at least the life of the website!

Building a new website isn’t cheap so typically a business will want to keep a new site for a while – typically 3-4 years or more, yet so many sites get little or additional content or attention once they are launched. How many businesses don’t change over 4 years? If a website is to be a true reflection of a business, content must evolve. This is the only way a website can effectively communicate up to date marketing messages. The reality is that that design isn’t enough. Evolving, dynamic content is what drives effective communication of marketing messages.

The importance (and value) of content

I will go further: I believe that a site with good content and poor design is likely to produce more than a site with lots of design and poor content – so long as it is navigable! On more than one occasion I have heard corporate clients complaining that small local competitors had websites that performed better than their own. On investigation, the reason is normally that the local competitor site, while not necessarily a cutting-edge design, is simple, to the point and up to date because it is managed and updated in house, while the corporate site is over-designed, over complicated and, because development and updating is handled externally, out of date! In another example, an online retailer ‘upgraded’ their website to a new, design-led site. Sure, on first view, the site looked great but once you started to use the site, you find that valuable product information available previously can no longer be found – is that progress? I had a personal example last weekend…. A group of us went to stay in a B&B in the North East. We booked in mid-January. A few days before our stay, I noticed on the B&B website that all the prices had just been increased. At the end of our stay, we were charged the higher price because:

"The prices went up back in January but it takes ages to get our website updated...."

I’m sorry, that just isn’t good enough! Even a small (and otherwise very pleasant!) B&B should be able to update their own prices on their website as soon as they change.

Who should build your site?

The normal approach is that a designer will design the layout of your site and then pass this ‘look’ to a developer (either freelance or in the same company) who will ‘code’ the site to make it live. Developers who work with designers are more likely to be project-driven – do a job then move on to the next project. Does this really fit with ongoing use and evolution of your website?

Design/Content Balance – An Alternative Approach

Let designers design as an important step in website development but work with someone who understands content delivery and takes a collaborative approach to  to develop your site and create a platform for technical and content updates to really make your site work. With the latest Content Management System (CMS) platforms such as WordPress it is even practical to consider embracing site updating in house Recognise that designers design, developers develop and marketers market – different skills that should be combined most appropriately to work in the way that best suits you to deliver your business marketing goals.

Social media etiquette – 5 rules

rupo When it comes to social media, there are a few ‘givens’ that it’s just good etiquette to do. None are particularly troublesome or time consuming and they make you more of an attractive proposition to be connected with on social media. Try to emphasise the ‘human side’ of social media. Currently, there is a drive for marketing automation, making social media a hands off process. This pollutes social media platforms with poor content and results in one robot talking to another. Social media marketing (for that matter, marketing in general) should be about relationships, not pitting one programme against another to see which can do it quickest and easiest. Don’t forget, it’s real people that you are trying to talk to:

  1. Always mention your source – When you share content from someone else, be sure to mention them (if they have an active social media account). Not only is it polite, it will gain you extra exposure, should they retweet, favourite, like, share etc you.

E.g: Number of women in engineering grows – LINK. Via @WomensWeekly

  1. Reply to “thanks for following us” posts (If they are human) – Often, when you follow someone or like their page, you’ll receive a direct message or post on your wall saying thank you. Often, these are automated messaged, like this:

auto However, sometimes these messages are genuine and someone has taken the time to specifically thank you for following them. See an example here: non auto If they are genuine, it’s always good to say acknowledge them. Whilst you can never be sure what is automated and what isn’t, you tend to get a feel for it after awhile.

  1. Don’t react on impulse – Sometimes, it’s hard to convey a message properly with limited characters or just via text, the point gets misconstrued. Therefore, take time to analyse a message or post and give a measured response.
  2. Don’t spam – Quality over quantity. Cliché yet so true. Rather send 1 or 2 good posts that people will read than 10 that aren’t relevant. People will become disinterested in your account should you post drivel all the time.
  3. Don’t abbreviate too much – Sure, in order to meet a tweets 140 character limit, you’ll need to cut a few words or create an acronym or two. However, too much and your message will become difficult to understand. This goes for Facebook. Whilst there is a larger character limit, abbreviating too much can mean the post loses it’s message.

BSA make sure your social media is real and engaging. If you would like to talk to us about enhancing your social media, please get in touch.