Inspired by the sticky situation a new client of ours found herself in, this post is aimed at the small business thinking of buying a new website or upgrading an existing site.
We know that web jargon can at times be scary and unfathomable. And it can be tempting for the already over-stretched small business owner to go along with whatever is suggested, putting their trust in the expertise of their web supplier. Unfortunately this makes it all too easy to sleep-walk into a digital disaster.
A little preparation and research upfront, could save a lot of headaches and unnecessary expense further down the track. So with this in mind, please read on about “Things You Need to Know When Buying a New Website”.
#1 Do I need a Content Management System?
What is a CMS?
A content management system or CMS is an interface that allows a web administrator to make content changes quickly and easily to their website without needing any knowledge of web coding.
Building your website onto a CMS platform, means that going forward you will be able to make many changes to your site without needing to come back to your designers / developers.
How hard is it to use a CMS?
Some Content Management Systems are easier to use than others, but generally if you can use a word-processing package like Microsoft Word, you will be able to make text and image changes to a web page.
If you are prepared to jump in and really get to grips with your CMS, you will also be able to add and delete pages, change page layouts, amend navigation structures and manage e-commerce stores.
It is important to be honest from the outset about your organisation’s ability to use a CMS and share this information with your web supplier.
Paying for a CMS that you are too busy to use, find is too difficult to use or even, like our furry friend pictured, are too slothful to use, is akin to pouring money down the drain.
Often CMS training is given at the end of a web-build, but if you have any doubts about your prospective web administrator’s ability to use the software, make sure you ask for a hands-on demo at the start of the process before you have committed to anything.
Will a CMS save me money?
That depends. If you think you will need to make regular or extensive changes to your site, it may make financial sense to consider a CMS. You will be able to make these changes yourself, and thus avoid having to pay designers / developers to make them for you.
Note however, that building a site on a CMS is generally more expensive than building a static site. It may also (depending on the system used) incur ongoing licensing fees.
Therefore if you don’t need to update your site regularly, it could make more sense to buy a cheaper static site (perhaps with a blog module attached so you can post news articles yourselves) while earmarking future budget for occasional designer-made updates.
It is worth talking these issues through with your web company at the outset, and making sure you are clear on the maths.
We will look at the differences between open source and proprietary content management systems, and why it’s important to know which you’re getting.