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How To Tell If A Content Management System Is Right For Me


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Howdy.

 

I'm getting ready to revamp my website with a complete overhaul, and I figure now is a good time to determine if I would benefit from having a content management system like Drupal, or if that might be an unnecessary headache, given my needs.

 

I've designed various sites over the years, though i by no means consider myself a professional web designer. At this point i can build a pretty decent looking site using Photoshop, Image Ready and Dreamweaver, and my site is mainly personal for my artwork (this site was designed prior to a good grasp of the skills i have today, which is part of the motivation for the redesign).

 

This last spring i finally went and got myself set up with WordPress and PHPlist, which took quite a bit of monkeying around to get it the way i wanted (and i'm still not satisfied with how it all looks), and i don't know if i'm ready to learn yet another whole new system. My problem is i don't have a sense for the cost effectiveness of going with a CMS--will the up front time investment be worth the benefit, or would it be an overkill?

 

I'm not even sure what questions i should be asking myself to weigh the pros & cons.

 

If anyone can help by throwing out factors i should be considering in making this kind of decision i'd really appreciate it.

Thanks!

 

Oh, if you want to look at my current site to get a sense for the content, it's www.archetypalimages.com

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I realize the decision will have to be my own...but despite my new relationship with wordpress i must admit to being an ignorant savage when it comes to knowing what questions i should even be asking myself to come to a conclusion.

 

I can see that a CMS is useful for sites that want to have multi-user access, and that it serves far more purposes than that...i'm just too confused by what articles i've read on the web so far; they all assume the reader has some familiarity with CMS's, and i do not--i simply stumbled on this at one point and rediscovered it as i was pre-planning my re-design. If i hadn't saved a link to a random CMS article i never even would considered it and would have proceeded to design my site without it.

 

Basically i lack enough information to make an educated decision, so i'm hoping someone with more experience can help me grasp what i should be asking myself.

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Ok, then what you need to ask yourself is what you want your site to be or accomplish. Things like Drupal, phpNuke are not just web sites but offer social interaction with integrated forums and blogs along with regular site content.

 

If you know what you want to accomplish that would help someone offer suggestions as to which way to go.

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Basically this is a site to showcase/promote/sell my artwork.

I make regular updates to the site, adding new art and now blogs, as well. Allowing people to comment on my postings and my artwork is key.

Sending out a regular newsletter and offering RSS is also key, to keep people informed of updates.

 

What i have now is a cob-fab of a straight up HTML site, using wordpress and PHPlist. It's hardly a seamless presentation, and i really want to cut a lot of fat and streamline my content.

 

Due to my graphic design skills i want to create a very personal, simple, seamless (as possible) site; However, i don't really have much free-time...and i don't know how challenging learning how to get what i want aesthetically out of a CMS would be. Even though designing in HTML can be an exercise in frustration at times, i'm familiar with it and like how i can rather quickly and easily put in my own touches.

 

One thing that i can see might come in really handy with a CMS is that i may begin doing a regular webcomic in the near future. Of course, I could simply create a page in WordPress that's devoted to the strip, so again, i'm not sure if the need is really there.

 

What i also don't know is how hard it would be if i went ahead with my basic re-design and simply wanted to deal with a CMS down the road; i'm guessing it could very well be a pain in the butt to integrate my design into the CMS after the fact, and that if i was going to do it at all it might be wisest to do it in tandem.

 

Also, i've been learning flash and am strongly considering adding active flash content to the site.

 

Having a calendar of events is also something i'd like to incorporate. Maybe a forum, but not necessarily; the one i've used up till now hasn't been as useful as i thought, and i think having postings from readers in response to what i'm doing is more what i'm after than back and forth discussions.

 

Hopefully this gives you some ideas of where i'm at. I could get more specific, if that would help.

 

Thanks for the assistance, by the way.

Edited by ericwilmoth
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This is just an opinion but if what you have done is working for you why change?

 

One thing that comes to mind is when you are using a CMS all your editing is done on the server, unless you set up your computer to run apache, mysql and php where you can make changes and test without being online.

 

I have a small site where I sell Palm PDA programs and it was a static HTML site for a long time but I wanted to get with the times and go the CMS route. I chose Website Baker at the time. If I were to do it over I would probably use Joomla. I used to have a forum but found nobody wanted to use it.

 

I see nothing wrong with using static HTML if that's what you are comfortable with. Using XHTML and CSS you can accomplish much.

 

As for mailing lists, I find shared accounts not a good place to host them. I fully understand and agree with the restraints in place to prevent spamming but it makes it very time consuming to run a mailing list. I run several mailing lists but I've written my own programs to send the mail (still working within the restraints in place). They are relatively small lists but if I were to run a large list I would sign up with one of the mailing list hosting sites.

 

Let's hear what some others have to say about it.

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It sounds like you may not be an ideal candidate for CMS.

 

I use Joomla for a couple of sites, and I like it a lot, but the main reasons I chose to use CMS were:

 

1. My web design skills aren't much, and I thought that by letting someone else (Joomla) deal with the backend programming, I could concentrate on the things I know how to do. My graphic design skills are also suspect, and there are thousands (yes, thousands) of free templates available for Joomla.

 

2. There is a (free) plugin available for Joomla for almost any function you could reasonably want. No programming for me.

 

I don't use the access restrictions available in Joomla, but I can think of situations where they'd be very handy. I think something like that would be pretty difficult to program on your own.

 

 

I guess I'd say that if you're able to create a site you like and that does what you want it to do on your own, you probably don't need CMS. Also, there is a fairly steep learning curve involved with Joomla.

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  • 2 weeks later...

May I suggest this site to get a very good CMS system. GLFusion You will not be disappointed in this package. The support is top notch and if you are displaying art work take a look at the media gallery this package has, it is first class all the way.

 

Let us all know which way you go.

 

Lee

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At the moment i'm getting the feeling that a CMS may not be the way for me to go. I'm being pulled away from the redesign just yet, so i'll need to think it over some more before i know for sure, so if i have more questions i'll post them.

 

Still, if anyone else cares to throw out some suggestions i'd love to hear them.

 

Cheers!

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Eric

 

How often do you change content on your site now, how much time does it take??? With HTML you make the canges then re-publish. With CMS you make the changes on the fly - bingo it is done. I have a Fishing site that I make some changes on a daily basis and without a CMS system it would be impossable to do it in a timely maner. GLFusion is a great system that gives you a photo album, forum, file management (Users can downlod files) also tools to keep the site safe and happy. Items not needed can easily be turned off. This system is evolving all the time to make life very easy for the users of the product. Take a look at my site (Link in my signature) and go to the link I gave in my first post to GLFusion. At the GLFusion site ask questions on that forum so you can get feed back from users of that system. The more you ask the more you will learn. I have tried several CMS systems and find that GLFusion is the best, very easy to install and learn, not a steep learning curve.

 

Just my two cents.

 

Lee

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I see what you're saying, Lee, about quick customization and updating, which is part of why i started looking down this road to begin with...but as a visual artist i'm looking to make a site that is far more unique, graphically, and the impression i've been getting is that to accomplish that with a CMS is going to be really tough and time consuming--of course, if i'm wrong, someone please tell me.

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Eric

 

Most CMS systems use some form of Static pages. These can have almost any content you want, it should be very easy to do the graphic work you want in a static page and use it as a home page. That is what I do on my site with a slide show on the page with a little discription of the site. I change the slide show often and it takes all of 5 min to do so. What you should do is load a CMS system up in a subdirectory and try it, that is what I did the first time and it gives you a real hands on feal before you commit.

 

Lee

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