Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Small business, bad content management system

CMS

What's shocked me recently in the digital world are the unusable content management systems (CMSs) that some small companies end up with.

If your website admin system has badly labelled fields and content blocks that give no clue to their purpose, how can you possibly update your content?

Fathoming out how to change the page title and meta description in Drupal CMS recently took a lot of Googling, squinting and cursing. It shouldn't have to be that hard.

Pay-as-you-go updates

In the worst cases companies find themselves unable to carry out even small tweaks, having to pay their designer each time something needs changing.

And if you're forking out for pay-as-you-go updates, does that not wipe out some of the benefit of using free open source software like Drupal?

Never heard of CMSs

It's sad that small businesses end up with unusable CMSs. Often it's because they have no clue how bad an admin system for a website could be. I mean, we're all used to pointing, clicking, dragging and dropping in our desktop packages, so why would you suspect that the software that manages websites is so unfriendly?

If people did have an inkling how geeky CMSs can be, they could specify in their web design contract that they wanted a more usable admin system.

Focusing on the visible front end

Small companies often focus all attention on the visible front end of their site - the visual design. They don't pay enough thought to life after launch and the need to update their website after the designer has gone.

Specify CMS in contract

Small companies would do well to specify the CMS features they need in the contract they sign with their web designer. So they'd make a wish list of everything they wanted to do:

  • create new page
  • upload new images
  • change content blocks on home page
  • move blocks up and down
  • change page title
  • etc

And they should insist on a usable CMS and a training session.

Unknown unknowns

But I guess that's unrealistic. After all, if you've never heard of CMSs or page titles, then how are you going to make that wish list?

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