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Full scale CMS systems vs “Light CMS” Trend

Full scale CMS systems vs “Light CMS” Trend
Published July 8, 2009 by dfordsi Comments: 3
Light CMS Admin Area

Light CMS Admin Area

When Colony Tire approached us last year about redoing their web presence, we discussed the level of content management they were going to need. Initially DotNetNuke was kicked around as was joomla. But when it became clear they were only going to be editing a select few sections/pages, we knew a light CMS would indeed work for them. We told them that it would give them what they want, be less complicated, have an easy learning curve and cost less. Needless to say they were on board.

We often get requests from clients wanting a full blown CMS like drupal or joomla. Don’t get me wrong, CMSs are great and systems like joomla and drupal do have their place. But for a large majority of sites out there, the level of content management that full scale systems offer is complete overkill and might even get you into trouble. Often times we hand over the keys to a full blown CMS and we end up doing the site maintenance anyway as it proves to be too challenging for the client.

Full scale systems that allow you to edit every single tiny detail on a page can leave you open to inconsistencies/anomalies on a site, things being accidentally/inadvertently changed and simply page layouts that break. In joomla, the steps required to add a menu item and then link it to a page would be too much for someone that isn’t tech savvy and doing this kind of thing every day.

Part of the problem is that the marketing behind these tools offers what seems to be a holy grail/silver bullet to solve all content and maintenance issues. We can now have our receptionist/intern update our site right?! Probably not. The reality is that most CMSs are for people who have a significant level of computer/web savvy. The bigger and more complex the system, the trickier they can be to use or learn for non technical people.

That’s why I am excited to see the emergence of a trend towards “Light CMS”. Light CMS is something that we’ve been recommending and implementing for our clients for years as illustrated above. What makes a “light” CMS light? Firstly, it should only edit areas of a site that need to be kept fresh ie news, testimonials, job postings etc and not interfere with static content that never/infrequently changes. Secondly, it should be flexible and easy to deploy. Thirdly, it should sufficiently abstract the content away from the markup to guard against breaking stuff ie the layout. And lastly, it should be easy to use and easy to learn. That’s it.

Hopefully this trend towards light CMS will have clients asking for it by name.

Discussion

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3 Responses to “Full scale CMS systems vs “Light CMS” Trend”

  1. Louise McGregor said:

    Good point about the consistency issues. I think one of the issues is that the people making the CMS purchase decisions are often unrealistic in what they will be doing with their content.

    I’ve heard “we’ll be updating everything everyday” so often – when it’s often not realistic or even desirable. I’ve also heard demands for high levels of functionality and lots of bells and whistles, and then a content evaluation reveals that visitors want more plain content – ie; text and flat images.

    • David Ford said:

      Very true Louise. When making content decisions, the client doesn’t always factor in the user/visitor experience into the equation sufficiently… when it should be one of the main criteria from the start. Thanks for Commenting!

  2. John conrad said:

    It’s a very interesting subject I was looking around about more information but you got really what i was looking for in your article so thanks and keep it up you have a great blog .
    I’m very interested in CMS and all its related subjects.