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Should I use a CMS

  • # November 21, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I have always built sites from the ground up, done all the code myself, and done all updates by hand, etc. However, I’m the new webmaster for a state technical school and looking at doing a full redesign a lot sooner than anyone expected.

    In the past if a client wanted to update their own site I would create forms they would use to update a database with MySQL and the site would pull the data off the database. The new site will be much much larger than it is now. For example, the president wants a blog to talk to students and I want teachers to have the choice to create a "class website" and add image, docs, etc to it as they see fit.

    I have NEVER used a CMS before. Since I’m the only "webguy" an no one else will be working with the site directly should I make the switch from updating by hand to using a CMS? Will using a CMS allow me to set up teachers to create their own sites and update them?

    Basically, before I jump into a CMS I want to be sure I’ll get use out of it. I don’t want to spend my time learning a CMS like Joomla only to continue to update the same way and continue to create the MySQL forms.

    Thanks for the info in advance guys!

    # November 22, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    A CMS (I use Drupal) is great for projects with a lot of content updates or a multi-user site, especially when the users may not have even the slightest clue about how web sites work on the back end.

    For blogging and other basic types of text/image content, most CMS’s allow you to use WYSIWYG text editing much like a word processing program that most users would be familiar with. That alone is a lifesaver if you are looking at creating a site with the intention of being the sole trainer and maintainer for the users of the site. Having the ability to give the users a familiar and simple interface for adding content is a real boon.

    The real difference with a CMS vs a straight up coded site is that Content Management Systems are updated, not fire and forget sites. This is something to consider when committing to a CMS for a project. If you are looking to just design the site and then walk away, it might not be the best choice, since best practices for maintaining a Content Management System requires routine maintenance and upgrades to keep the site secure. But if you are to be the ongoing maintainer of the site anyway, the scalability features of a CMS are hard to beat.

    # November 22, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    I would say yes: use a CMS.

    The big ones have had so much testing and bug fixing done to them, they’re safer than most programs one would program on their own.

    How long would it take for you to program a blog with commenting, multiple users, etc, etc.? Now how about Optimizing the Feed to automatically ping search engines when posted? etc. etc. I can guarantee you it would be much faster to learn WordPress… twice.

    I’d recommend starting with WordPress over Drupal or Joomla just for simplicities sake.

    my 2 cents

    # November 22, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    The blogs wont have a comments section and will only be directed to students and faculty.

    # November 22, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Okay. Did you get my point, though?

    Will it take you longer than 5-10 hours to program all of the MySQL forms, views (how the blog is displayed), Rich Text Editor, and any and all functionality that your client wants (plus debugging time)? In that time (IMHO) you’d get a great footing in WordPress.

    Not to mention the plugins for WordPress that can expand your site beyond just a blog and page editor.

    That should make at least 4 cents from me =)

    # November 22, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Yeah i got the point and it’s a big factor for my decision on what to do. The site isn’t a blog site though. It’s a full on site for a technical school: 11,000+ students, 1,000 faculty, and many many staff members. I’ve programmed a blog before. So, its like you said look at the time it will take to program everything vs learning to use wordpress or another tool.

    # November 23, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I would recommend not thinking of WordPress as a blogging software first and a CMS second. Only maybe 1 out of 10 sites I build are blogs and they’re all in WP.

    I think the choice is either between Drupal and WordPress. Either would work, but most of what you probably want this thing to do is already built into WP, or is just a plugin away. Where Drupal will require alot of customization to get you there, plus the time to learn it (and it IS a ridiculously steep learning curve). I’ve only just messed around with Drupal, and it’s a bear!

    But things like adding department heads as users and assigning them to their respective page sections as authors has a ton of different plugins that work wonderfully already established for WP. I can’t imagine anything coming up that WP couldn’t handle.

    # November 23, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I think one of the issues is I don’t fully understand a tool like wordpress. The school already has a server, a domain, everything I need on that front. I don’t want to use wordpress to host anything. I want to use it as a tool to make changes faster, organize, and allow teachers to make their own pages based on my preset options such as layouts, backgrounds, etc.

    I tend to view CMS like wordpress as the place that hosts your site too. Similar to having yahoo host your site and using their webpage tool to build and maintain your site. I know this is not correct, however. Maybe you can explain it to me better. Please.

    # November 23, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Been doing a bit of reading. So I install wordpress on our current webserver!?!?!

    # November 23, 2009 at 3:48 pm
    "dcp3450" wrote:
    I tend to view CMS like wordpress as the place that hosts your site too….. I know this is not correct, however. Maybe you can explain it to me better. Please.

    Okay, Here’s a brief explanation:

    Wordpress is a PHP program. You upload it to your website and tell it how to access your SQL server. Then it will create the tables it needs and give you login info.

    You can still upload a different.php page and that page will operate on it’s own, as if WordPress didn’t exist.

    All of the things that you will want to customize will be located in the /wp-content/ folder (plugins and themes). You can duplicate the "default" folder, rename it and update the files in it to create your new theme.

    Chris Coyier made a great set of video tutorials on this: http://css-tricks.com/designing-for-wor … downloads/

    # November 23, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Ah!

    So I’m not stuck one type of setup? I can have the site look anyway I want, correct? How does word press know what to update? Does it work like css and use selectors?

    # November 23, 2009 at 4:09 pm
    "dcp3450" wrote:
    Ah!

    So I’m not stuck one type of setup? I can have the site look anyway I want, correct?

    Correct. You have total access over how the website displays.

    For Example, I wanted my blog posts to display in a unique way on my home page of http://cssvideos.com.

    Another Example: My website isn’t made with WordPress, but my blog is…. and I made them look the same.

    "dcp3450" wrote:
    How does word press know what to update? Does it work like css and use selectors?

    Here. Login to the testing admin WP area on this website: http://php.opensourcecms.com/scripts/de … =WordPress

    Go to the Pages section, and you’ll see it’s pretty straight-forward. Add and edit pages…

    # November 24, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Always use a CMS… preferably WordPress! Its great for a site with literally one page, or a site with a zillion. Thanks to the plugins, you can easily add in elements, that would otherwise take you quite a while to conjure. Not only that, but as average peopleclients do research and find out more and more about CMS as being a given in any production, they may look down on you for not using them. I was doing research the other day and came across this designer’s site that must of had 30-40 pages? All .html. Just that though alone made me think of the old days when I did the same, and when I finally switched over, there was no turning back. WordPress forever! I only have one site now that is still HTML and its only 4 pages total, and hasnt been updated in 3 years, and is a friend of mine who I did as a favor, so I won’t spend my time putting it over for nothing. But any new project? yes, always a CMS.

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